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The best game on the MLB schedule for Thursday is the American League matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners. Tampa and Seattle are both holding Wild Card spots in the American League with just a few weeks left to go in the regular season. Here they will look to get a statement win over one another, with an American League Cy Young contender set to headline this significant clash.
The Seattle Mariners enter this game with a record of 78-61, which is good for the second Wild Card position in the American League. Seattle only trails the Rays in the AL Wild Card picture, and it would take a meltdown from the Mariners to miss out on the postseason at this stage. To help them avoid such a meltdown, the Mariners are sending their top starting pitcher to the mound on Thursday night.
Luis Castillo comes into this game with a record of just 11-7, but his individual numbers have been phenomenal this season. Castillo has an ERA of 3.19 and he is averaging over a strikeout per inning in his 169.1 innings of work for the year. But Castillo will be tested in this game against a Rays team that can put up runs in bunches, while Castillo looks to improve on a mediocre road record for the season.
In 2023, Castillo has gone 7-3 in home games, with a stingy 2.49 ERA in those contests in the Pacific Northwest. On the road, he is just 4-4 with a 3.99 ERA, a stark contrast to his level of performance at T-Mobile Park. If the Mariners are going to be a serious contender to win the American League pennant, Castillo needs to be more consistent away from home, starting with this outing against the Rays.
The Tampa Bay Rays are comfortably in the postseason this year, as they are eight games up on the final Wild Card team in the American League. Tampa has won two games in a row and three of their last four, taking the final two games of their last series against the Boston Red Sox. Here, they will look to prolong the road struggles of Luis Castillo en route to another key victory for their AL East championship hopes.
Zack Littel is on the mound to start this game for the Rays, who enters with a 3-4 record and a 4.69 ERA for the 2023 campaign. In four home starts, Littel is 1-1 and has a bloated ERA of 6.04 in 28.1 innings of work. However, that is not a large sample size to analyze, and we could see much better from Littel in this game than his numbers to this point in the season thus far.
Working in the favor of the Rays going into this game is that they have put up some big offensive numbers against the Mariners so far this season. Tampa has lost two of their three games against the Mariners in 2023, but they have scored 24 runs in those three games, including 15 in their first meeting of the year. Look for the explosive Rays offense to have their way with Seattle once again on Thursday evening.
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Jay Sanin is a sports bettor and writer from New York. He has been handicapping since the moment he was old enough to gamble legally, with his specialties being niche sports like the WNBA and XFL. He’s been told he has a voice for radio. He also has a face for radio.More info on Jay Sanin
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