No one has hit more home runs in interleague games since the start of last season than Nelson Cruz.
If that wasn't daunting enough for Arizona's attempt to extend a scoreless streak, the Seattle Mariners slugger has been locked in during recent home games and will seek to build on this weekend's impressive performance in Monday night's opener against the Diamondbacks.
Cruz has hit 15 homers in 31 interleague games since the start of 2014, five more than the next-closest batters: Toronto's Jose Bautista and Houston's Colby Rasmus. He's hit 65 in 256 overall contests in that span, second only to Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout with 67.
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Cruz has four homers in his last six games while batting .429. He went 7 for 12 this weekend to help Seattle (46-53) take a three-game series from Toronto.
In Sunday's 6-5 comeback win in 10 innings, Cruz hit the tying two-run homer in the seventh and drove in three runs. Franklin Gutierrez ended it with his third home run in 19 contests this season, lifting Seattle to its fourth win in six games.
"It's a big tough road (for Gutierrez)," manager Lloyd McClendon said of his outfielder, who has played 192 games since the beginning of the 2011 season and missed all of 2014. "The biggest challenge for us is managing his health and playing time, and making sure we can keep him on the field."
Cruz is batting .485 in his last nine home games and will get to face a pitcher who's coming off his worst performance of the season.
Robbie Ray (3-5, 2.72 ERA) gave up five runs in 4 2-3 innings in a 5-3 loss to Miami on Wednesday. The left-hander was 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his prior two starts, beginning with a 4-2 win in Texas on July 7.
Ray yielded two unearned runs in 7 2-3 innings in that game and hasn't given up an earned run over 14 2-3 in two stars versus the AL this year.
Rookie Mike Montgomery (4-4, 3.25) pitched a one-hitter in his last interleague start, a 5-0 win in San Diego on June 30. However, he is 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA in his last three starts after logging a 1.62 ERA in his first seven in the majors. He was charged with eight runs in 2 2-3 innings in a 9-4 loss in Detroit on Wednesday.
He'll face a Diamondbacks team that won three of four over Milwaukee to close out the week after losing eight of nine. Arizona (46-51) won 3-1 Sunday for its second straight shutout and allowed five runs in the series.
"Now we go on the road to the Seattle, a good team, we'll have to keep pitching that way and hopefully getting a few more hits," manager Chip Hale said.
The Diamondbacks, who have never had three consecutive shutouts, can register their second-longest scoreless streak by keeping Seattle off the scoreboard through the seventh inning Monday. Arizona had a record 31-inning run in July 2002.
Ray gave up four runs in five innings in his only start against Seattle, an 8-1 loss Aug. 17 while with Detroit. Robinson Cano, who went 2 for 3 against him, is batting .337 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 22 games this month.
Arizona's Ender Inciarte has one double in five consecutive games and is 10 for 22 in that stretch.
The Diamondbacks took two of three in the most recent matchup against Seattle from June 18-20, 2012, in Arizona. The Mariners are 7-2 at home in the series.