The race for the postseason is getting tighter, but the Rays have the luxury of one of the league's deepest rotations.
Tampa Bay, which leads the Yankees by 2 1/2 games for the American League's second Wild Card spot, will throw Alex Cobb in Friday's series opener in Seattle. The Mariners will counter with Hisashi Iwakuma.
The Mariners have gone 20-25 since the All-Star break, and they're 30-38 at home this season. Iwakuma, an All-Star this year, is 12-6 with a 2.92 ERA, and he's completed at least six innings in 12 of his last 14 starts. Iwakuma has logged a 3.87 ERA and given up 14 home runs in his last 14 outings.
Cobb has made 17 starts for the Rays this season, and he's gone 8-3 with a 2.82 ERA. The right-hander has lost just once since May 5, and he's gone 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA and 72 strikeouts in his last 73 innings. The 25-year-old has held opposing hitters to a .228 average and 12 homers.
Cobb faced the Mariners on Aug. 15, his first start back after missing a month because of a concussion. He said that outing -- five innings of one-run ball -- helped him get rolling in the right direction, which peaked last time out, when he took a complete-game loss to the A's, despite giving up only two runs.
"Unfortunately we didn't get the win, but I felt like I pitched pretty good. I competed throughout the whole game," Cobb said. "And I liked the fact I was able to go deep into the game for the first time in a while. And I felt the same in the eighth as I did in the early stages of the game. That obviously will be in my mindset now, as it always is. Now that it's been done for me, I expect to do that every time out."
Cobb will see Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, the third overall selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, who has been a newfound weapon this season. Seattle has gone 18-12 in games in which Zunino has started behind the plate, but he's batting just .232 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in his first 33 games in the Majors.
Rays: Wil can still thrill for rookie
Wil Myers has cooled off a bit for the Rays, but the rookie outfielder has still been productive. Myers is batting just .163 (7-for-43) in the last two weeks, but he's hitting .286 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs overall.
Myers, a third-round pick by Kansas City in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, has shown some interesting splits in his debut season. Myers has a higher on-base percentage against lefties (.372) than he does against right-handers (.333), but he's hit nine of his 11 home runs against right-handed pitchers.
Mariners: Seager manning the hot corner
Seager has started at third base in 93 consecutive games, the fifth-longest run in the league over the last five seasons and second-longest current streak -- trailing Baltimore's Manny Machado and his 189 straight games. Seager's streak broke a former franchise record by Adrian Beltre (86).
And he hasn't just played, he's been productive. Seager batted .293 with 15 homers and a .359 on-base percentage before the All-Star break, and he's the first Seattle player since Beltre (2006-08) and Ibanez (2005-08) to hit at least 20 home runs in back-to-back seasons.
• Rookie James Paxton will make his Major League debut for the Mariners on Saturday.
• Seattle leads the Majors with 25 home runs in the first inning, and is tied for second in the AL with 52 homers in the seventh inning or later.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.