Seattle (52-50) at Chicago Cubs (62-41)
When: Sunday, July 31st 2016
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: ESPN
The Seattle Mariners look to make it two straight against the NL Central leading Chicago Cubs when the two teams meet on Sunday Night Baseball. Seattle got the better of Cubs’ ace Jake Arrieta yesterday in a 4-1 win after the Cubs took the opener 12-1. The Mariners spoiled Arrieta’s start Saturday, handing him the loss when newly-acquired closer Aroldis Chapman was unable to nail down a four-out save. Former number four overall pick in the 2008 draft, Brian Matusz, will get his first start for Chicago tonight after getting two starts for Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs are expected to option RHP Justin Grimm to Iowa to make room for Matusz. The loss on Saturday broke a three-game winning streak for the Cubs who still hold a 6.5 game lead over the Cardinals in the division. Chicago’s Kris Bryant (6-for-13) and Ben Zobrist (6-for-14) have both hit safely in four straight games. Mariners OF Nelson Cruz has reached base in 10 straight, going 13-for-35 over that stretch.
Pitchers: Mariners – Felix Hernandez (5-4, 3.45 ERA) | Cubs – Brian Matusz (0-0, 12.00)
Felix Hernandez will get his third start since returning from the disabled list and he’s hoping for better results this time out. He’s allowed nine runs and 19 hits over 12.2 innings in his previous two starts. Hernandez did earn the win last time out, though, despite giving up four runs and nine hits over six innings at Pittsburgh. Hernandez’s only start against the Cubs came in 2010, when he allowed two runs on five hits and struck out eight in nine innings but didn’t get a decision in a 13-inning Cubs win.
Matusz struggled out of the bullpen for Baltimore before being released, allowing at least one run in four of his seven outings. His last big-league outing came against the Mariners, who roughed him up for four runs and five hits in 1.2 innings on May 17th. Matusz has made 13 appearances (one start) against Seattle, posting a 3.20 ERA without a decision.
Yesterday’s win over the Cubs might have given the Mariners some confidence after getting hammered the last two nights. Felix hasn’t been himself, but with two starts under his belt since a stint on the DL, he’ll be ready for the prime time lights of Wrigley. Matusz has never lived up to the hype and probably never will. Seattle has already knocked him around this season and I think they’ll do it again.
Pick: Mariners +115