GAME: Rangers (7-4, 2nd, AL West, -2.0 GB) at Mariners (5-7, 3rd, AL West, -4.5 GB). GAME #: 13. SERIES: 3rd of 4 games. MEETING: 3rd (series tied 1-1). WHEN: Saturday, 6:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Rangers L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Felix Hernandez has the $175 million contract, but so far this season Hisashi Iwakuma has been Seattle’s ace. He upstaged countryman Yu Darvish on a cold night at Safeco Field Friday in Seattle’s 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers, giving the Mariners their first win in four games and delaying a fan mutiny by at least a day. Now it’s up to veteran LHP Joe Saunders to keep things rolling.
Saunders (1-1) has a poor career record against Texas — 3-7, 6.48 ERA — but he’s practically unbeatable at Safeco Field, going 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 10 career outings. He’ll oppose Alexi Ogando, 2-0 this season, 1-0 in his career against the Mariners and 0-0 at Safeco Field.
Prior to the Iwakuma-Darvish doings Friday, manager Eric Wedge said that newly acquired Aaron Harang, picked up in a trade with Colorado this week, will move into the rotation immediately. He starts Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers.
Blake Beavan will move to the bullpen where he will take the long relief role vacated by Kameron Loe when the Mariners designated Loe, with six gopher balls on his ledger, for assignment. Beavan was ineffective in his two starts, posting an 8.44 ERA and an opponent batting average of .348.
Harang’s insertion will push Felix Hernandez’s next start to Wednesday with Iwakuma closing out the homestand Thursday.
A closer look at the Saunders-Ogando matchup:
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (1-1, 3.48 ERA, 1.74 WHIP)
The 31-year-old Saunders, a Fairfax, VA., native in his ninth major league season and first with the Mariners, will make his third start and first against the Rangers. Saunders had a sluggish start April 3 at Oakland, giving up four earned runs in four innings in his Mariner debut. He rebounded in Seattle’s home opener, working 6.1 shutout innings in a 3-0 victory.
- LAST START: April 8 vs. Houston, won 3-0 at Safeco Field; allowed 6 hits over 6.1 innings, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, 91 pitches, 57 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RANGERS: July 23, 2010, lost 1-0; 1 earned run on 7 hits in 7.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 126 pitches, 78 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. RANGERS: 3-7, 6.48 ERA in 11 starts covering 58.1 innings; 48 strikeouts to 20 walks, 15 home runs, 1.49 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 7-0, 1.91 in 10 starts covering 61.1 innings; 28 strikeouts to 21 walks, 4 home runs, 1.17 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: David Murphy (0-for-4, .000), Lance Berkman (0-for-2, .000).
- HATES TO FACE: Ian Kinsler (10-for-24, .417), Jeff Baker (3-for-9, .333), Nelson Cruz (6-for-20, .300).
- CURRENT RANGERS VS. SAUNDERS: 35-for-105, .333 BA, 12 strikeouts, 8 walks, 7 home runs, .383 on-base percentage.
RANGERS: RHP Alexi Ogando 2-0, 0.77 ERA, 0.94 WHIP
The 29-year-old Ogando, a native of the Dominican Republic in his fourth major league season, all with the Rangers, will be making his third start and first against the Mariners. He pitched his best game April 3 at Houston, holding the Astros without a run and just three hits over 5.1 innings while striking out 10 and walking one. A 2011 All-Star, Ogando has made four career starts and nine relief appearances against Seattle. He has never won at Safeco Field.
- LAST START: April 8 vs. Tampa Bay, won 5-4; 1 earned run on 3 hits in 5.1 innings; 2 strikeouts to 3 walks, 0 home runs, 89 pitches, 49 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Sept. 21, 2012, working in relief, did not factor in the decision in the Rangers’ 6-3 loss at Safeco Field; worked 1.0 innings, 1 hit, 0 strikeouts, 0 walks.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 1-0, 4.91 ERA in 13 games, including 4 starts covering 25.2 innings; 24 strikeouts to 6 walks, 1 home run, 1.24 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 0-0, 3.00 ERA in 4 games, including 1 start, covering 9.0 innings; 10 strikeouts to 1 walk, 1 home run, .088 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Michael Saunders (0-for-8, .000), Jesus Montero (0-for-3, .000), Brendan Ryan (0-for-3, .000).
- HATES TO FACE: Dustin Ackley (2-for-4, .500), Franklin Gutierrez (2-for-4, .500), Justin Smoak (5-for-12, .417).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. OGANDO: 13-for-59, .220 BA, 16 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, .230 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Houston, four vs. Texas Thursday-Sunday, three vs. Detroit Tuesday-Thursday. The Mariners will get their first day off Monday, following 14 consecutive games to open the season.
- In his three starts, Hisashi Iwakuma has allowed five earned runs and nine hits in 20.3 innings. Iwakuma didn’t issue his first walk until Friday night with two out in the fifth inning. His streak of 18 innings without a walk is the second-longest in franchise history, behind Cliff Lee’s 22.1-inning streak to open the 2010 season.
- Mariners leadoff hitters had 12 RBIs in the first 11 games of the season, most in the majors. Franklin Gutierrez had eight of them.
- Kendrys Morales is batting 6-for-10 with runner in scoring position.
- OF Michael Morse, who broke a finger Thursday night, might be out for less than a week.
- Closer Tom Wilhelmsen is 4-for-4 in save opportunities and leads the league in total saves.
- In the Mariners’ five victories, they are batting .355 (16-for-45) with runners in scoring position. In seven losses, the Mariners are batting .059 (3-for-51) with RISP. The Mariners have no hits with RISP six times in 12 games.
- After the day off Monday — counting spring training, they have played 30 of the last 31 days — the Mariners have 16 consecutive games before their second day off, May 2.
|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. Nick Tepesch (1-0)|
|4/16||Tue||vs. Det||RHP Aaron Harang (0-0) vs. TBA|
|4/17||Wed||vs. Det||RHP Felix Hernandez (1-2) vs. TBA|
|4/18||Thr||vs. Det||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) vs. TBA|