(Photo credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports)
After taking two of three games from the Los Angeles Angels, the Seattle Mariners open a three-game home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.
The Mariners (81-65) entered their day off Thursday a game ahead of Toronto in the race for the American League's third and final wild-card playoff berth. Seattle is also in third place in the AL West, 1 1/2 games behind division-leading Houston and a half-game back of second-place Texas.
The Dodgers (88-57), who were also off Thursday, have a 13 1/2-game lead in the National League West. Their magic number entering Thursday to clinch their 10th division title in 11 years was down to four, which means they could pop the champagne this weekend.
Wednesday's 6-1 loss to visiting San Diego dropped the Dodgers to 5-7 this month.
"I think that every September we have played good baseball except one," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said in reference to a 12-17 record in September 2017. "I think it's just focusing on playing good baseball. Try not to get too far ahead of things. And once we get to a certain point, dial it in."
The Dodgers got good and bad news Wednesday. Reliever Joe Kelly came off the injured list after missing 29 games with right forearm inflammation but starter Walker Buehler's rehab from Tommy John surgery was shut down and he won't pitch again this season.
"I think that once we put our (October) roster together, we'll do a good job of preventing runs," Roberts said. "What roles guys are going to play, I don't know yet. It's not going to be conventional. It doesn't need to be."
Dodgers rookie right-hander Bobby Miller (9-3, 3.98 ERA) is scheduled to start the opener against Mariners right-hander George Kirby (10-9, 3.48), with both pitchers facing the opposing team for the first time.
Kirby, the 20th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Elon, sparked controversy last Friday at Tampa Bay after allowing a tying, two-run homer in the seventh inning of a game the Mariners eventually lost 7-4.
"I wish I wasn't out there for the seventh, to be honest," Kirby told reporters after the game. "I was at (more than) 90 pitches. I didn't think I needed to go any more. But it is what it is."
Kirby walked back those comments the next day and apologized to manager Scott Servais.
"Obviously, I screwed up," Kirby said. "That's not me. 'Skip' has always got to pry that ball out of my hands. Just super uncharacteristic of me as a player and who I am out on that mound. I love competing. Like I said, I just screwed up. I'm really looking forward to next week, just going forward and enjoying time with the team and getting into the playoffs."
Said Servais: "When you make a mistake and it only affects you, it's not that big of a deal. But when it starts affecting other people, that's when you start taking notice. I think this is one that George will learn from. ... We move forward. I love having him out there."
Since giving up just three hits over nine innings in a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles, Kirby is 0-1 with a 6.00 over his past four starts.
"If I don't do my job, it definitely eats at me, and it's been eating at me the last month," Kirby said.
Miller, the 29th overall selection out of Louisville in the 2020 draft, is coming off a no-decision in the Dodgers' 7-6 loss in 11 innings Saturday at Washington. Miller allowed five runs on six hits over seven innings, with two walks and a career-high eight strikeouts.
--Field Level Media