Ty France just keeps hitting for the Seattle Mariners, who continue their three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
France drove in two runs on Tuesday in Seattle’s 8-4 victory in the series opener. The reigning American League co-player of the week is 18-for-38 (.474) with four home runs and 15 RBIs over his past nine games.
“I’m just getting on time,” France said. “When I’m on time, I’m able to react to pitches, lay off bad pitches and put good swings on pitches — that’s basically what it comes down to for me. When things are going well, it means my timing’s right and I’m able to get that good swing off.”
The timing has been excellent lately for the entire Seattle team, which has won four straight and seven of its past eight games.
The Rays struggled to generate any offense against Mariners starter Logan Gilbert on Tuesday. The right-hander allowed just two hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in the win. Gilbert has given up one earned run over his first 22 1/3 innings covering four starts.
Seattle will next turn to left-hander Marco Gonzales (1-1, 3.29 ERA), who received a no-decision after allowing six runs (two earned) over 4 2/3 innings against the Texas Rangers last Thursday.
Gonzales, 30, owns a 13-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 13 2/3 innings in three starts this season. He is 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in five career starts against Tampa Bay.
The Rays are expected to start right-hander Drew Rasmussen (0-1, 5.25 ERA), who allowed two runs on four hits over three innings against the Chicago Cubs on April 20. He threw a season-high 79 pitches.
Rasmussen, 26, has allowed seven runs in 12 innings across his first three outings.
Tampa Bay has lost seven of its last eight meetings against Seattle dating back to last season.
The Rays battled back from an 8-0 deficit with four runs in the seventh inning on Tuesday. Catcher Rene Pinto recorded his first major league hit, a two-run homer, and shortstop Wander Franco followed soon after with another two-run blast.
Franco, 21, is batting .338 with four homers and 12 RBIs. Despite committing a rare error in the Tuesday loss, he is proving to be just as good as advertised in his second season.
“What he’s doing with the bat underscores a lot with what he’s done with the glove lately,” Rays catcher Mike Zunino said. “It’s fun to watch him play. He brings a ton of energy. I mean, he’s a superstar in this game. He’s going to be. And he’s staying extremely humble and working hard, and it’s fun to watch good things happen to him.”
Seattle could be without Zunino on Wednesday after he exited the Tuesday game in the fifth inning due to a left biceps strain. He is listed as day-to-day.
The Mariners continue to receive strong performances from their pitching staff, including a relief corps that includes Andres Munoz, Paul Sewald, Drew Steckenrider and Diego Castillo.
Munoz, 23, struck out Ji-Man Choi with two runners on to end the series opener. The right-hander has fanned 14 against three walks in his first seven innings this season.
“He’s gaining confidence as a young player,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s going to pitch some really big innings for us as the season goes along.”
–Field Level Media