Saturday night, the Mariners will send a pitcher coming off arguably his best outing of the season to counter Tigers lefty Drew Smyly, who is coming off his worst performance of 2014.
Chris Young, the Mariners' big right-hander, carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning his last time out. Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun notched one of only two hits against Young over his 6 1/3 innings to break up the bid. Young fanned five and walked three in the win.
"I was trying to find the adjectives to describe this guy today," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said after the dominating performance. "What a godsend for this rotation. He's just been tremendous. He pitches in and out, up and down. He never wavers. He knows what he wants to do and he executes it pretty good."
Washington released Young just before the regular season after he had a strong Spring Training. The Mariners signed him to a one-year contract in late March, and he's exceeded expectations after injuries depleted the rotation.
Young didn't pitch in the Major Leagues in 2013, making nine starts in the Nationals' Minor League system. He missed most of the year recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome. Young dealt with shoulder problems dating back to 2007, when he was an All-Star with the Padres, but those days seem to be behind him.
"I love it here," Young said after his last start. "I'm grateful for this opportunity and I want to continue to make the most of it. The Mariners took a chance on me and I want to reward them for it. I want to get back to being the pitcher I once was, and I feel like that's what I'm working toward. That's what I'm trying to do, and I'll keep going."
Young is 4-2 with a 3.30 ERA this season in nine starts (10 appearances). In two career starts against Detroit, he's 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA (3 ER, 15 IP) and 13 strikeouts.
His pitching style, which creates an abnormal number of fly balls, suits him well at spacious Safeco Field. He's 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in his four home starts.
Smyly was clobbered to the tune of four home runs over five innings in Detroit's 10-0 loss to the A's earlier in the week. Friday, he said that he's since worked on trying to keep his pitches down, with an extra focus on his cutter.
"I'm trying to get my cutter going," Smyly said. "Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. It's been inconsistent all year, so in my bullpen I pretty much just focused mainly on getting my cutter the action that I'm looking for. I think and [pitching coach Jeff Jones] thinks that's kind of my equalizer pitch.
"That's the pitch that makes me better, makes everything I do all go together. When that's not working for me, I'm not near the same type of pitcher."
Smyly took some solace in the fact that Max Scherzer had a four-homer game on his record, that coming in his first start of the 2011 season at Yankee Stadium. Scherzer, who will start Sunday's finale, rebounded from that one to give up one homer over his next four starts combined, allowing five runs over 26 innings with three wins in that stretch.
Tigers: McClendon remains close to club
Lloyd McClendon obviously thought about what it would be like to manage the Tigers at some point last fall. When Jim Leyland retired, McClendon was the logical in-house candidate and arguably the favorite in the managerial field until Brad Ausmus interviewed and left an impression.
At no point while serving as the Tigers' hitting coach, however, did McClendon think about the task he faces now: How would he try to get Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez out?
He's had to think about it a lot this week with the Tigers coming to Safeco Field and McClendon facing the franchise he served for eight years as a coach on former manager Jim Leyland's staff.
"You have ideas," McClendon said. "You have things you think you can exploit to help us be successful. But the fact is, once the game starts and the players are between the lines, it's up to the players. They have to execute. There's only so much that I can do or my staff can do. It's up to the players to execute the game plan."
McClendon's transition from Tigers managerial candidate to Mariners managerial choice happened so quickly, there was barely enough time for him to ponder the situation. On the day the Tigers introduced Ausmus as their choice to succeed Leyland, McClendon was in the midst of a second interview with Seattle.
Mariners: Maurer optioned, Chavez up
Struggling right-handed pitcher Brandon Maurer, loser of four consecutive starts, was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma a day after giving up five runs on six hits and four walks in a 7-5 loss to the Angels.
Maurer (1-4, 7.52 ERA) lasted at least five innings only twice in seven Major League starts after injuries to James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Blake Beavan and Erasmo Ramirez's performance forced him into the starting rotation.
Manager Lloyd McClendon said Maurer underwent an MRI on Friday after complaining of back soreness following last night's start. But the fact the 23-year-old was demoted and not placed on the disabled list indicates he's healthy because a club isn't allowed to option an injured player to the Minor Leagues.
To help fill Maurer's roster spot, the Mariners recalled outfielder Endy Chavez from Triple-A Tacoma and put him in the leadoff spot while rookie James Jones was moved down to No. 2. In 37 games this season with the Rainiers, Chavez posted a .272/.289/.346 slash line with two doubles and no home runs. A 12-year MLB veteran, Chavez played for the Mariners in 2009 and 2013.
• Robinson Cano has missed two consecutive games with an illness and hand injury.
• On Friday, Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma became the 260th pitcher to give up a homer to Miguel Cabrera at the big league level.
• Rajai Davis returned to the Tigers' lineup Friday after missing the finale in Oakland due to a sore shoulder.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.