Seattle Mariners Series Preview: at Texas Rangers
By Matt Seto
The Mariners’ tour-de-AL West continues into the weekend as the M’s take on the bottom-feeding Rangers at Arlington. That last series win against the A’s was a huge first step in the most important September we’ve seen in a while. Keeping the ball rolling over the next week is going to be even more important. With back-to-back series against the Rangers and Astros, the Mariners are facing some of the worst teams in the league. That doesn’t mean much for the Mariners though, who have a losing record against the Rangers (6-9) on the season. Here’s your Mariners series preview for this weekend’s 4-game matchup against the Texas Rangers.
Game one: Roenis Elias (9-12, 3.97 ERA) v. Robbie Ross Jr. (2-5, 5.63 ERA)
Elias has faced the Rangers three times already in 2014, sporting a 1-1 record with a no-decision. The last time he faced them was back on August 25th, where he pitched well enough to win, but the Mariners had some struggles at the plate and took a 2-0 loss.
Robbie Ross Jr. is making his first start since throwin 5 innings of no-hit ball against the Astros last week. Ross was pulled after 70 pitches in what eventually ended up as a loss for the Rangers. Arguably the best start of Ross’s career, there has been a bit of controversy in Arlington after Ron Washington pulled the young starter halfway through his no-hit bid.
Game two: Hisashi Iwakuma (13-6, 2.90 ERA) v. Scott Baker (3-3, 5.23 ERA)
Poor Kuma allowed 3 bombs in his last start against the Nationals, the Mariners managed to squeeze out a win, but he might be a bit rattled after going only 2.1 innings against the Red Sox on the 24th. That was his shortest and worst outing of the season, and a start against the Rangers is just what the doctor ordered to get the confidence back.
Baker is making his 7th start of the season after bouncing in and out of the bullpen for much of 2014. He’s in search of his 4th straight win (the first was an extra innings walk-off appearance), and is on extended rest as he has been battling a sore neck.
Game three: Chris Young (12-7, 3.46 ERA) v. Nick Martinez (3-10, 5.14 ERA)
Chris Young was absolutely shelled in his last start against Oakland. He was chased after only 2 outs where he gave up 5 runs on 4 hits. His ERA jumped nearly a third of a run from that start alone. The 8 days rest might have messed with his rhythm, and he’s back on regular rest for Saturday’s start.
Rookie Martinez has certainly been getting his fair share of starts this season, and is seeming to come into his own as the season winds down. Martinez faced the Mariners at Safeco on August 26th where he took a loss after going 5.0 innings and giving up 5 runs, including a homer.
Game four: James Paxton (5-1, 1.91 ERA) v. Derek Holland (0-0, 1.29 ERA)
Paxton is continuing to show us that he belongs in the MLB. He faced the Rangers on August 26th and was dominant, going 6.2 innings of scoreless ball en route to a Mariners shutout win. Paxton is in search of his third straight win, and 5th win against AL West opponents for the season.
Holland is making just his second appearance of the season on Sunday after proving he’s still got it in KC last week. Holland went 7.0 innings and gave up only one run but was let down by his offense (a familiar story) and the Rangers took a 2-1 loss. Holland is returning from a knee-injury sustained in the off-season.
- Chris Young is still in search of his 13th win of the season, which would be a career high for him. His last 12 win season was back in 2006 with the Rangers.
- The Mariners have had a hard time with the Rangers this season, sporting a 6-9 record against the worst team in baseball. As we get deeper into September, these softer opponents are going to be clutch to making any run at a wild card spot.
- Fernando Rodney notched his 41st save of the season and is now only three shy of the Mariners’ club record of 45 set way back in 2001 by Kazuhiro Sasaki (there’s a name we haven’t heard in a while).
- The Rangers are saying that the return of Yu Darvis is likely going to have to wait until next season as he’s still battling elbow inflammation and has been riding the DL since August 13th. With less than a month left in the season, it seems unlikely that any rehab and promotion will happen for Darvish.
- The Rangers are also riding a 5 game losing streak right now, putting their elimination number at only 1 game. It seems likely that the Mariners are going to officially knock them out of the playoff hunt this weekend.
Wild Card Roundup
The Jays and Yankees are shooting themselves in the foot as we roll into September, and it’s looking like a two dog race for the wild card right now. The Tigers and Mariners have been flip flopping on that last spot for a week or two now. The way the Mariners have been playing (and the A’s), there’s still a chance that the M’s can hop up a spot in the AL West and leap-frog the A’s. The Mariners have a lot of AL West matchups in September, including three more against the A’s and 7 more against the Angels.
- The A’s are hosting the Astros in Oakland for the weekend, giving them a chance to gain some ground back on the Angels, who are 4 games up in the West right now.
- In the most important matchup of the weekend, the Giants are headed to Detroit to take on the Tigers in a three game series. The Giants are in a wild-card race of their own as they’re currently holding onto that first spot in the NL. They’re only 2.0 games back of the Dodgers for the NL West lead though.
- The Yankees need a few wins as they head to KC for the weekend. This is do-or die time for both the Yankees and Indians, who are 4.0 back of that second spot.
- The Indians are off to Chicago to take on the White Sox.