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May 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Mariners-Royals pregame notes: James Jones gets first start at leadoff

James Jones watches his pinch-hit double in the eighth inning Friday night against Kansas City. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

James Jones watches his pinch-hit double in the eighth inning Friday night against Kansas City. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

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A few pregame notes from the Mariners:

SEAGER STILL OUT — Battling the flu, Kyle Seager is out of the lineup for the second day in a row. That’s a shame for all the kids (14 and under) coming for Kyle Seager Bat Night tonight.

KEEPING UP WITH JONES — Rookie James Jones will make his first career start in the leadoff spot against Kansas City tonight. In his minor league career, he hit .306 (110 for 360) with 83 runs, 24 doubles, 11 triples, nine home runs and 46 RBI while hitting in the leadoff spot, including .338 (76 for 225) in 2012 with High Desert.

Jones has made two starts as the No. 2 hitter. In his first seven major-league games, he is 5 for 11 (.455) with a pinch-hit double Friday night and one sacrifice bunt.

“He’s the prototypical-type leadoff guy. We’ll give him his chance and see what he can do,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I like what I see. I don’t think he’s overmatched at the plate. He has the ability to put the bat on the ball. He gets great jumps in the outfield. I’m impressed.”

BULLPEN STREAK — The Mariners bullpen has not allowed a run in its last 14 innings spanning the last five games (since May 5 at Oakland). Overall, the bullpen ranks fourth in the AL with a 3.22 ERA (39 ER in 109 IP). Tom Wilhelmsen tossed a scoreless ninth inning Friday and has now tossed 10 consecutive scoreless innings (since April 21) after starting the season by allowing five runs in his first 8.1 innings.

ON-BASE MACHINE — Robinson Cano has reached base safely (via hit or walk) in 18 consecutive games (April 20-current), and he is batting .319 (22 for 68) with 10 runs scored, 4 doubles, a triple, 11 RBI and six walks during this streak. Overall, Cano has recorded at least one hit in 29 of 35 games this season, including a team-high 11 multi-hit games. He has 19 RBI (tied for second on the club), and leads the M’s with five go-ahead RBI.

KEEPING IT CLOSE — Seattle lost by five runs Friday, but 14 of Mariners last 16 games have been decided by 3 runs or less. Overall, 25 of the 35 games have been decided by three runs or less (13-12 record). Seattle has played most games decided by three or fewer runs in the AL, ahead of Boston, Cleveland (24 G), Boston & Oakland (23 G). Seattle is 5-4 in one-run, 7-4 in two-run and 1-4 in three-run games.

 

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