The Florida Marlins have won twice in 22 games this month, have fallen deep into the cellar of the NL East and are just a few days removed from their manager resigning.
Now they get to play a three-game home series 3,300 miles away - and take their swings against the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner to kick it off.
Preparations for a U2 concert in South Florida have forced the Marlins to take their troubles to the Pacific Northwest, where they'll face Felix Hernandez and the Mariners in what's technically a road game for Seattle.
Florida (33-42) has known about the Irish rock band's invasion of Sun Life Stadium since late January, but the show isn't even until Wednesday - leaving pitcher Chris Volstad to wonder what he might be missing.
"I guess it will be the best concert of all time, with all that time to set up,' Volstad said.
What the move sets up in Seattle is an interleague scenario that 80-year-old Jack McKeon - who took over as interim manager Monday after Edwin Rodriguez resigned - has been in favor of since his first managerial stint with the Marlins.
"People say, what rule would you change?" McKeon told the team's official website. "I would change the rule where (NL clubs) would use the DH when they came here, so the people could see the clubs using the DH, which they never see in the National League. And in the American League, you'd let the pitchers hit."
Even though the pitcher has to hit this weekend at Safeco Field, the Mariners (37-38) aren't likely to complain Friday.
That's because Hernandez (7-6, 3.34 ERA) will be on the hill, though he'll be looking to bounce back from a 5-1 loss Saturday against Philadelphia in which he surrendered three runs over seven innings
Hernandez, who won his only previous start against the Marlins at Safeco in 2008, is already looking forward to getting into the batter's box.
"It's going to be fun. It's going to be awful if I don't get a hit because I don't want to look bad in front of my home fans,' said Hernandez, who's 2 for 21 with a grand slam in his career.
He'll see a Marlins lineup that's looked slightly rejuvenated over its last two games after scoring one run or fewer in seven of its previous 10. Florida stopped its 11-game slide - and got McKeon his first win - by beating the Angels 5-2 on Tuesday, but that same offensive output wasn't enough in Wednesday's 6-5, 10-inning loss.
Hanley Ramirez, who was in a 3-for-35 slump, had two hits in each of the last two games. Ramirez is 5 for 12 in his career at Safeco, where Florida won two of three in 2008 - the lone exception being when Hernandez allowed four runs - three earned - over 7 1-3 innings for Seattle.
Any defeat over the weekend will set a Marlins record for losses in a month with 21.
The Mariners might technically be on the road, but they'll be happy to be back in Seattle after losing three one-run games in the nation's capital. A ninth-inning sacrifice fly was the only scoring in Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Nationals.
"We pick ourselves back up again, go home, separate from this and get right back on track," Wedge said.
After scoring just one run in their last 22 innings in Washington, the Mariners try to rebound against Florida starter Ricky Nolasco (4-3, 4.48).
Nolasco needs to bounce back as well. He's 0-3 with an 8.20 ERA in his last five starts, including a 7-4 loss Saturday against Tampa Bay in which he allowed five runs in five innings.
The right-hander, who has never faced Seattle, is 1-4 with an 8.42 ERA in his last five interleague starts.
Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is batting .426 during his 11-game hitting streak.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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