It’s a happy coincidence for the Mariners that even as they prepare to honor the franchise’s iconic designated hitter that their current DH is on a sustained tear.
Nelson Cruz enters Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels with six homers in his last six games and eight in his last 11. He also leads the American League with 92 RBIs.
It’s a fitting tribute to hitting coach Edgar Martinez, whose 18-year career resulted in Major League Baseball choosing to recognize the game’s best DH each year by presenting them with the Edgar Martinez Award.
The Mariners are recognizing Martinez’s achievements Saturday by retiring his No. 11 in a pre-game ceremony at Safeco Field. He joins former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. as the only Mariners to receive that honor in the franchise’s 41 seasons.
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In anticipation of a sellout crowd, the Mariners are opening the gates at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for the 6:10 p.m. game. The ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m.
Those in attendance will receive a miniature replica of the No. 11 plaque that will hang in center field alongside Griffey’s No. 24 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.
The Mariners (59-58) would also like to mark the occasion with a victory after surrendering their hold on the American League’s final wild-card berth by opening their four-game series against the Angels with two losses.
"Those two games came down to one play," Cruz said. "If we make one play or make one pitch, we’d be in a different situation. That’s the game we play. Sometimes it goes your way. Other times it goes the other way."
Entering Saturday, the Mariners trail Minnesota by one-half game for that final spot and are tied with the Angels and Tampa Bay. Kansas City, Baltimore and Texas are also within three games of the Twins.
***Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (4-4 with a 5.10 ERA) seeks his first victory in his second tour with the Mariners when the series Saturday at Safeco. He is 0-1 while allowing eight runs in 8 1/3 innings in two starts since returning from Tampa Bay in a July 28 trade for reliever Steve Cishek.
***The Angels are starting right-hander J.C. Ramirez (10-10, 4.21), who pitched briefly for the Mariners in 2015, when he made eight relief appearances and allowed seven runs in 8 1/3 innings.
***Erasmo Ramirez is 4-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 10 games, including six starts, in his career against the Angels.
***J.C. Ramirez got a victory in his only previous appearance against the Mariners. It occurred earlier this year in April 8 when he allowed two runs in 1 1/3 innings but got the victory when the Angels rallied.
***Mike Trout is 8-for-20 in his career against Erasmo Ramirez. Other to watch: Albert Pujols is 3-for-11, Cameron Maybin is 4-for-10, Andrelton Simmons is 3-for-9 and Kole Calhoun is 2-for-11.
***The Angels hold a 7-4 edge in the season series with four comeback victories and one game when they broke a tie in the ninth inning.
***It only seems Trout wrecks the Mariners in each at-bat. Actually, he is just 7-for-23 (.261) this season in seven games, although he does have two homers and eight RBIs. He also has nine walks, which boosts his on-base percentage to .471.
***Kyle Seager needs one more double at Safeco to become the second player to reach 100 for his career. Ichiro Suzuki has 133 career doubles at Safeco.
***Pujols went 3-for-5 on Friday with two RBIs. He is batting .319 (15-for-47) this season against the Mariners and .220 against everybody else.
***Jarrod Dyson went 2-for-4 on Friday and is batting .356 (16-for-45) in his last 11 games. His average is up to .252.
It was two years ago Saturday — Aug. 12, 2015 — that right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma pitched a no-hitter in a 3-0 victory over Baltimore at Safeco Field. It was the fourth no-hitter in franchise history.
Iwakuma hasn’t pitched this season since May 3 because of inflammation in his shoulder. He suffered the latest in a series of setbacks Friday in a disappointing outing in an extended bullpen session, and it seems increasingly likely that he won’t pitch again this season.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners