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Blue Jays-Mariners Preview

Blue Jays-Mariners Preview
The Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays each had different managers when the teams met earlier this month.

Under new guidance, these last-place clubs have played better of late and look to keep that going when they open a three-game set Monday night at Safeco Field.

A little more than a week after Seattle won a pair of one-run games to take two of three at Toronto from June 9-11, each fired its manager within a day of the other.

The Mariners (31-50), owners of the worst record in the majors, let John McLaren go on June 19 and replaced him with Jim Riggleman. The Blue Jays (40-43) fired John Gibbons the next day and replaced him with former manager Cito Gaston, who led the club to consecutive World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

Since then, however, both teams have improved.

Seattle won 9-2 at San Diego on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep of the lowly Padres for its fifth victory in six contests. The Mariners, who won three in a row from April 15-17, haven't won four straight since closing the 2007 season with five consecutive victories.

"We feel like we're playing pretty good baseball and just trying to win the game, not get ahead of ourselves," said Riggleman, who is 6-3 since taking over. "They're focusing and giving a good effort."

On Sunday, Ichiro Suzuki went 5-for-5 and Adrian Beltre homered while driving in three runs for Seattle, which had a season-high 18 hits. Beltre is batting .432 (16-for-37) with a homer and 11 RBIs in his last nine contests, while Suzuki went 8-for-14 in the San Diego series.

After outscoring San Diego 18-6 over the weekend, the Mariners might have a tougher time producing runs against Toronto's pitching staff that is among the best in the majors with a 3.55 team ERA. Seattle, however, needed only six runs to win the series earlier at Toronto, which is 5-4 under Gaston.

The Mariners face Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay (8-6, 3.12 ERA) for the first time this season. Halladay allowed five runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-5, 10-inning loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday.

"(Halladay) battled as hard as he could," Gaston told the Blue Jays' official Web site. "It's unfortunate we didn't get that win for him."

Toronto has lost the last three starts made by the right-hander, who is 4-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 10 starts against Seattle.

The Blue Jays didn't need much run support Sunday for starter A.J. Burnett in their 1-0 win over Atlanta after he struck out 11 in seven innings.

Alex Rios went 2-for-4 with two doubles and drove in the game's only run. He is batting .358 (24-for-67) with nine doubles in his past 17 games and .377 with 10 doubles in 32 games against Seattle.

R.A. Dickey (2-3, 4.79) makes his second straight start and fifth of the season for Seattle on Monday. The knuckleballer allowed six hits in seven innings of an 11-0 road victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday.

"I hope I can be consistent," said Dickey, who is 1-3 with an 8.35 ERA as a starter this year. "I had a good knuckleball. I was able to take the spin off it, threw it for strikes."

The right-hander will make his first start against Toronto since 2004. He is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays, but allowed a hit in two innings of relief to earn the win in a 3-2, 10-inning victory at Toronto on June 9.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: June 30, 2008

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