GAME: Rangers (6-3, 2nd, AL West, -10. GB) at Mariners (4-6, 3rd, AL West, -3.5 GB). GAME #: 11. SERIES: 1st of 4 games. MEETING: 1st (Rangers won 2012 series 10-9). WHEN: Thursday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 2; Rangers L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
For a while anyway, the Mariners are going to have a hard time living down the embarrassment of dropping their home-opening series to the Houston Astros, a club widely acknowledged as the worst team in the majors. But the Mariners did their best to put the lie to that, losing by a combined 24-10 Tuesday and Wednesday.
Houston, losers of 100+ games in each of the past two seasons, entered the series riding a six-game losing streak and batting .199 as a team with just 39 hits to show for the season. They departed with 46 hits in three games (37 in two wins), including eight home runs, and a .367 batting average of that span. The Astros hit just two home runs in their first seven games.
The Mariners have shown they have nothing at the back end of their rotation. In Tuesday’s 16-9 loss, No. 4 starter Brandon Maurer couldn’t get out of the first inning, allowing six earned runs on seven hits. In Wednesday’s 8-3 setback, Blake Beavan worked 5.2 innings, but yielded five runs on nine hits. Maurer has a 16.20 ERA while Beavan stands at 7.59. To compound that lameness, Seattle’s bullpen sports a 5.51 ERA.
Fortunately for the Mariners, they catch two breaks when the Texas Rangers come to town to begin a four-game series Thursday. Not only will the Mariners have ace Felix Hernandea on the mound, they won’t have to face Texas lefty Matt Harrison, scratched from his start with back problems.
Harrison is 10-2 lifetime against Seattle and went 4-1, 1.11 against the Mariners last season, his only loss a 1-0 setback Sept. 22 at Safeco Field.
The Rangers have summoned Justin Grimm from AAA Round Rock to take Harrison’s place opposite Hernandez. He has never pitched against the Mariners. A closer look at Thursday’s starters:
The 27-year-old Hernandez, in his ninth major league season, all with the Mariners, will be making his third start. After a vintage Felix performance in the opener (no runs on three hits, eight strikeouts) against Oakland, he had a sub-par effort in a loss to the White Sox last week. Hernandez has a losing career record (12-16) against the Rangers, but went 2-0 in two starts against them last season.
MARINERS: RHP Felix Hernandez (1-1, 2.57 ERA, 0.85 WHIP)
- LAST START: April 6 at Chicago, lost 4-3; 4 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.1 innings; 3 strikeouts to 2 walks, 1 home run, 108 pitches, 66 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RANGERS: July 14, 2012, won 7-0 with a complete-game shutout; 3 hits in 9.0 innings, 12 strikeouts to 0 walks, no home runs; 107 pitches, 74 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. RANGERS: 12-16, 3.76 ERA in 34 starts covering 220.1 innings; 193 strikeouts to to 67 walks, 19 home runs, 1.24 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 51-35, 3.16 ERA in 119 starts covering 823.0 innings; 784 strikeouts to 230 walks, 64 home runs, 1.18 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Julio Borbon (4-for-21, .190), Adrian Beltre (3-for-15, .200), Mitch Moreland, .222.
- HATES TO FACE: Lance Berkman (2-for-3, .667), Elvis Andrus (16-for-51, .314), David Murphy (19-for-63, .302).
- CURRENT RANGERS VS. HERNANDEZ: 82-for-326, .252 BA, 68 strikeouts, 22 walks, 35 RBIs, 10 home runs, .308 on-base percentage.
RANGERS: RHP Justin Grimm (1-1, 9.00 ERA, 1.78 WHIP in ’12)
Mariners killer LHP Matt Harrison was scratched due to back problems. The Rangers summoned out of the farm system the 24-year-old Grimm, in his second major league season, both with the Rangers. Grimm started the season at AAA Round Rock (Pacific Coast League), where he went 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA. The Bristol, TN., native appeared in five games for the 2012 Rangers, going 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA. He made two starts but has yet to face the Mariners.
- LAST START: June 25, 2012, lost to Detroit 8-2; 6 earned runs on 8 hits in 1.0 innings; 0 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 52 pitches, 34 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Never faced.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: No record.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: Never pitched.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Grimm has faced just one Mariner, Kendrys Morales, who is 0-for-1.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Houston, four vs. Texas (Thursday-Sunday), three vs. Detroit (Tuesday-Thursday). The Mariners will not get their first day off until Monday.
- Mariners pitchers have allowed 19 home runs, including three more Wednesday, the most in the majors.
- Kelly Shoppach had three hits for the Mariners Thursday, including a home run and RBI double.
- The Mariners have hit 14 home runs in their first 10 games. They didn’t hit No. 14 last year until their 20th game.
- Seattle right fielder Michael Saunders sprained his right shoulder when he crashed into the wall to make a catch in the first inning. He will be re-evaluated Thursday.
- Franklin Gutierrez, who hit his third home run in the sixth inning, committed his first error since Sept. 11, 2012 and just his second since Aug. 20, 2009.
- Manager Eric Wedge elected to rest Michael Morse, tied for the major league lead with six home runs, Wednesday.
- LHP Bobby LaFromboise made his major league debut hours after his summons from Tacoma. He struck out the first two batters he faced.
- For the second game in a row, the Mariners drew the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history. Wednesday’s crowd of 10,493 undercut Tuesday’s sparse throng of 10,745.
- The Mariners were involved in three transactions Wednesday. They recalled LHP Bobby LaFromboise from AAA Tacoma, optioned LHP Lucas Luetge to the Rainiers, and announced that OF Casper Wells, designated for assignment March 31, had been claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays.
|4/11||Thr||vs. Tex||RHP Felix Hernandez (1-1) vs. RHP Justin Grimm (0-0)|
|4/12||Fri||vs. Tex||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (2-0)|
|4/13||Sat||vs. Tex||LHP Joe Saunders (1-1) vs. RHP Alexi Ogando (2-0)|
|4/14||Sun||vs. Tex||RHP Brandon Maurer (0-2) vs. RHP Nick Tepesch (1-0)|