|Mariners' 1-2 lineup combo giving Brewers fits|
The Seattle Mariners' recent surge starts at the top -- namely, leadoff man Mallex Smith and No. 2 hitter J.P. Crawford.
The Mariners, who have won six of their past seven games, will try to continue their hot streak when they conclude a three-game road series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday afternoon.
Over the past seven games, Smith and Crawford have combined for a .410 average (25-for-61) with 18 runs, seven doubles, three triples, one home run and 15 RBIs. Seattle has averaged 7.4 runs per game over that stretch.
Crawford went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a triple and three RBIs as the Mariners defeated the Brewers 4-2 Wednesday. Smith was 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs.
"They're young, athletic and have plenty to prove," Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Smith and Crawford.
In the series opener on Tuesday, Crawford went 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBIs as the Mariners won 8-3. That followed a 4-for-4 performance Sunday with a home run and four RBIs in a 13-3 victory against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
Crawford, 24, was the centerpiece of an offseason trade in which the Mariners sent All-Star shortstop Jean Segura to the Philadelphia Phillies.
"This season is about opportunity for young players and going forward," Servais said. "We certainly gave up a good player to get J.P. Crawford, but where he's at in his development and his age, it's huge. Just let him go out there and play and learn. That's what it's about.
"There's going to be some failures and rough games along the way, but what we're starting to see is this is a guy that is really going to be a big part of our future. The fact he's in the middle of the field at shortstop is huge. It's really, really big."
While Crawford started the season at Triple-A Tacoma, Smith made the big-league club after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays despite missing most of spring training because of an elbow injury. The 26-year-old struggled early in the season and received a short demotion to Triple-A in mid-May, but he has batted .307 since May 27 to raise his average from .164 to .237.
"Mallex has had some good at-bats and created a lot of traffic (on the bases)," Servais said.
While the Mariners have recently surged, the Brewers have lost seven of their past nine games.
Their only runs Wednesday came on solo homers by Mike Moustakas and Ben Gamel, the latter an inside-the-parker.
"We both need to help each other out," Gamel told MLB.com, referring to the offense and pitching. "We just have to put our best foot down tomorrow. We all have high expectations and big aspirations, and when things aren't going our way, we have to fix the ship. We have to figure it out."
Mariners right-hander Mike Leake (7-6, 4.54 ERA) is scheduled to start against Brewers right-hander Chase Anderson (3-2, 4.70) in the series finale as Seattle goes after a sweep.
Leake is 4-0 over his past five starts and is 5-5 with a 4.52 ERA in 15 career starts against the Brewers. Anderson 0-2 in four starts this month. He's 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in one previous appearance against Seattle, in 2016.
--Field Level Media