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Mariners start 2013 with familiar foe in A's

Home slate begins April 8 with new AL West member Astros
TORONTO -- The Mariners will open on the road for a fifth straight season next year, according to the tentative 2013 Major League schedule released on Wednesday, with Opening Day set for the Oakland Coliseum on April 1.

It will be the fourth straight time Seattle kicks off its season on the road against the A's, although this year the two teams played their first two games in Tokyo before resuming play a week later in Oakland.

But Seattle does get a unique twist next year, with the Mariners facing off against the Houston Astros, the new American League West member, in their home opener on Monday, April 8. That three-game set with the Astros starts a 10-game opening homestand that also includes the Rangers and Tigers.

The new schedule also features the revamped Interleague slate, which will have crossover games spread throughout the course of the season, instead of packed primarily into June. Because of the Astros' move to the AL, there will now be an odd number of teams (15) in each league. And that means Interleague games will be played nearly every day, with the Reds and Angels opening the season against each other this coming year.

The Mariners travel to Pittsburgh for a two-game series on May 7-8 in their first Interleague action. They'll host the Padres on May 27-28 for a pair of games, then travel to San Diego on May 29-30 to conclude their "natural rivalry."

The AL West and NL Central are paired together in 2013, so the Mariners host the Pirates on June 25-26 and then have the Cubs for three games at Safeco Field on June 28-30. It will be the Pirates' first appearance in Seattle since 2007 and the Cubs' first return since 2010.

Seattle travels to Cincinnati on July 5-7, hosts the Brewers on Aug. 9-11, and concludes Interleague Play at St. Louis on Sept. 13-15. Milwaukee's visit will be its first to Safeco Field, as the last time the Brewers played in Seattle was 1997 in the Kingdome when both teams were in the American League.

The Mariners will play 20 Interleague games in 2013, two more than this year.

With the new 15-team alignment in each league, they'll also play two series (one home, one road) against each team in the AL East and AL Central, and six series against their four AL West rivals (three home, three road).

The Mariners have a tough stretch on the road in early May when they play 14 of 17 days on the road, with a trip to Toronto and Pittsburgh, then three games at home with the A's, followed by a nine-day journey to face the Yankees, Indians and Angels.

But Seattle also has a 10-game homestand from June 3-12 with the White Sox, Yankees and Astros. The Yankees will be at Safeco just that once for a four-game series from June 6-9 and the Red Sox also make just one four-game appearance in Seattle on July 8-11.

The Mariners wrap up the year with six games at home, concluding with the final weekend series against the A's on Sept. 27-29.

The Mariners have announced home start times, but all Saturday games are listed as TBA, pending the national television schedule being finalized. The announced 2013 schedule and start times are tentative and subject to change. The official schedule, with complete home and road start times, will be announced at a later date.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.

Seattle Mariners