Mariners to face NL East in Interleague Play

Mariners to face NL East in Interleague Play

Mariners to face NL East in Interleague Play
SEATTLE -- Interleague Play arrives Friday and that typically is good news for the Mariners, who have done very well against National League rivals.

In 14 years of Interleague battles, the Mariners' 136-112 record (.548) is tied for the sixth-best among the Major League's 30 clubs.

Even last season -- when Seattle struggled through a 101-loss season -- the Mariners were 9-9 against NL foes.

This year, the Mariners play their "regional rival" Padres twice, beginning with this weekend's series at PETCO Park in San Diego. They'll then square off against NL East foes Atlanta, Florida, Washington and Philadelphia in four straight series from June 17-29, before hosting the Padres at Safeco Field at the start of July.

Because of a scheduling conflict for the Marlins in Miami, the Mariners receive the added benefit of that series being shifted to Safeco Field. That means four of the six series will be in Seattle, where the Mariners are 75-49 in Interleague Play.

Of course, the Marlins will technically be the home team and National League rules will apply in that shifted June 24-26 series, but Seattle fans will be able to enjoy watching pitchers bat in their own park for the first time.

Those hurlers will get their first hacks this weekend on the road in San Diego, where Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda and Felix Hernandez are scheduled to throw. As a result, the Mariners will be without designated hitter Jack Cust for that series.

Mariners pitchers took batting practice for the first time this week, with Bedard and Pineda both hitting home runs in Tuesday's session.

"It's somewhat odd this year, because we play three games, then we don't go back to Interleague for a month after that," said manager Eric Wedge. "But we have to get them ready."

Bedard has a .267 batting average (4-for-15) in his career. Hernandez owns a .118 average (2-for-17), but proudly includes a grand slam against Johan Santana in '08 as one of his two hits. The rookie Pineda can't remember the last time he swung a bat in competition, but he was an infielder in his teenage years in the Dominican Republic, and put two over the fence Wednesday.

Last year: The Mariners went 6-3 at home last year in Interleague Play and 3-6 on the road, including a series sweep of the Reds that included a pair of 1-0 victories by Cliff Lee and Ryan Rowland-Smith at Safeco Field.

All-time: Seattle's 136-112 record in Interleague Play is tied with Oakland for the sixth-best record in the Major Leagues.

at Padres, Friday-Sunday: The Mariners are 39-35 against their regional rivals, including a 19-18 record in San Diego. Seattle has gone 12-6 at PETCO Park. This one figures to be a classic matchup of two pitching-minded clubs that both rank among the bottom seven scoring teams in the Majors. The two meet again at Safeco Field on July 1-3.

vs. Phillies, June 17-19: Seattle owns a 5-1 edge against the Phillies, a team the club hasn't faced since 2005. Depending on how the pitching lines up, this might be a chance to see Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt or old friend Cliff Lee take the mound at Safeco Field.

at Nationals, June 21-23: The Nationals have had Seattle's number, posting an 8-4 mark that includes series sweeps in the last two meetings in '05 and '08. This will be the Mariners' first time playing at Nationals Park after going 0-3 in their only jaunt to old RFK Stadium in '05.

vs. Marlins, June 24-26: This series was shifted to Safeco Field due to a scheduling conflict for the Marlins at their own Sun Life Stadium in Miami, but technically these will be Florida's home games. That gives Seattle fans a chance to see All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez and young slugger Mike Stanton, as well three games played under NL rules.

vs. Braves, June 27-29: The Mariners are 2-1 against the Braves at Safeco Field, and 3-3 overall, with this being Atlanta's first appearance in Seattle since '03. This will likely be a last chance for Mariners fans to see Chipper Jones, and a first chance to see rising star Jason Heyward.

Players to Watch:

Ichiro Suzuki, RF (.338, 11 HRs, 54 RBIs): In 179 Interleague games over 10 seasons, the Mariners leadoff man has 257 hits and 113 runs.

Chone Figgins, 3B (.299, 42 RBIs, 41 SBs): Most of Figgins' success came with the Angels from 2003-09.

Felix Hernandez, RHP (10-4, 2.83 ERA): Hernandez has started 19 Interleague games in five seasons, with his 10 wins tied for fifth-most in the the Majors in that span.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.