The two hottest teams in baseball since the start of July will square off in a three-game series starting Friday night in Seattle
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The Mariners have a 24-10 record since July 1 to climb back into the American League’s wild-card playoff chase. The Baltimore Orioles, who are 23-12 in that span, have moved past Tampa Bay into first place in the AL East
While the Mariners had a day off Thursday, the Orioles defeated visiting Houston 5-4 to extend their streak to 76 series without being swept, the fourth-longest in major league history. Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle homered for Baltimore, and closer Felix Bautista escaped a jam in the ninth inning to earn his 31st save
Baltimore’s series streak is the longest since the St. Louis Cardinals set the record of 124 from 1942-44
“We’re just a good group of guys,” said Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer, who allowed two runs over seven innings to earn the victory on Thursday. “Every series — every day, actually — is independent of the last, so it doesn’t matter whether we lost Game 1 or lost Game 2. Every day’s a new day. Things can change.
Said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde: “I’m proud of our club. We do fight. They battle, they scrap and they’re pulling for each other.
The Mariners have won their past six series, including sweeping the past two. They took four straight last weekend in Anaheim, Calif., against the Los Angeles Angels, then came back home to sweep a two-game set with the San Diego Padres to extend their winning streak to seven games
Seattle also has won nine of its past 10 games
Cal Raleigh’s two-run homer sparked a five-run rally in the eighth inning Wednesday night in a 6-1 victory against the Padres. The home run, which banged off the Hit It Here Cafe on the second deck in right field, was reminiscent of the one Raleigh hit late last season that clinched Seattle’s first postseason appearance since 2001
“It was kind of similar,” Raleigh said. “It’s kind of that same down-and-in pitch. I just didn’t try to do too much with it and tried to keep it fair. … It was a big moment in the game. We know we are in the playoff hunt, and every game is big. I was just pumped up for the team.
Mariners manager Scott Servais joked that Raleigh’s swing wasn’t exactly statuesque
“I think we’ve seen that swing before,” Servais said. “It was a big hit. He’s got a ways to go to get a statue.
Friday’s series opener is scheduled to feature a matchup of right-handers in Baltimore’s Kyle Gibson (11-6, 4.50 ERA) and Seattle’s Luis Castillo (7-7, 3.21)
Gibson has won his past two decisions, including a 7-3 victory Saturday against the visiting New York Mets. In that game, he went seven innings and allowed three runs on four hits, with one walk and nine strikeouts
Gibson is 4-5 with a 4.21 ERA in 14 career starts against Seattle. He lasted just three innings in a 13-1 loss to the Mariners on June 23 at home, giving up five runs
Castillo got a no-decision in Anaheim on Aug. 4 despite blowing an early four-run lead. He allowed seven runs on 10 hits over six innings in a game the Mariners won 9-7. Castillo will face the Orioles for the first time
–Field Level Medi