GAME: Mariners (7-10, 3rd, AL West, -5.5 GB) at Rangers (9-6, 2nd, AL West, -2.5 GB). GAME #: 18. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 5th (series tied 2-2). WHEN: Friday, 5:05 p.m., Rangers Ballpark. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Rangers L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
The Mariners didn’t exactly dazzle at the plate during their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers that ended Thursday with a 2-0 victory — they struck out 40 times in 110 at-bats. But they should benefit in their three-game series with Texas from facing three Rangers starters — Yu Darvish, Nick Tepesch and Derek Holland — not nearly as accomplished as the trio of Tigers they just encountered, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
Darvish is the best of the three, but he hasn’t done anything special against Seattle in five career starts. Darvish is 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA and lost 3-1 April 12 at Safeco Field.
Working against the Mariners is that they will throw the back end of their rotation against the high-powered Rangers.
While Friday night’s Seattle’s starter, lefty Joe Saunders, is off to a 1-1, 2.08 start, he lost his only outing on the road and is a far better pitcher at Safeco Field (7-0 career) than he is on the road. And at Rangers Ballpark, he has been dreadful. In 31.2 career innings, Saunders is 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA.
The Mariners and Rangers will be playing their second series of the season. In the first (April 11-14), the teams split four games, with each team scoring 11 runs.
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (1-1, 2.08 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
The 31-year-old Saunders, a Virginia native in his ninth major league season and first with the Mariners, will make his fourth start and second against the Rangers. Although he took a no-decision in his last outing against Texas (April 13) and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past two starts, Saunders has never had any luck pitching at Rangers Ballpark.
- LAST START: April 13 vs. Texas, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 3-1 loss at Safeco Field; 0 earned runs on 3 hits over 7.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, 98 pitches, 59 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RANGERS: Same as last start.
- CAREER VS. RANGERS: 3-7, 5.79 ERA in 12 starts covering 65.1 innings; 50 strikeouts vs. 22 walks, 15 home runs, 1.40 WHIP.
- AT RANGERS BALLPARK: 0-6, 9.38 ERA in 6 starts covering 31.2 innings; 24 strikeouts to 16 walks, 13 home runs, 1.80 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: David Murphy (0-for-7, .000), A.J. Pierzynski (3-for-13, .231), Adrian Beltre (7-for-27, .259).
- HATES TO FACE: Ian Kinsler (10-for-27, .370), Jeff Baker (4-for-12, .333), Nelson Cruz (7-for-23, .304).
- CURRENT RANGERS VS. SAUNDERS: 38-for-127, .299 BA, 14 strikeouts, 10 walks, 7 home runs, .353 on-base percentage.
RANGERS: RHP Yu Darvish (2-1, 2.75 ERA, 0.76 WHIP)
The 26-year-old Darvish, the Osaka, Japan native in his second major league season, both with Texas, will make his fourth start and second against the Mariners. Over the past two seasons, Darvish has held Seattle hitters (the current ones) to a .156 batting average. But his ERA against the Mariners is 6.21 — by far his worst against any team with at least two starts. Darvish has lost 10 games in his brief MLB career, and three have been to the Mariners. Darvish came within one out of throwing a perfect game in his season debut at Houston.
- LAST START: April 12 at Seattle, lost 3-1; 3 earned runs on 3 hits in 6.0 innings; 8 strikeouts, 1 walk, 108 pitches, 61 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Same as last start.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 2-3, 6.21 ERA in 5 starts covering 29.0 innings; 31 strikeouts, 17 walks, 1 home run, 1.44 WHIP.
- AT RANGERS BALLPARK: 11-2, 3.96 ERA in 15 starts covering 97.2 innings; 117 strikeouts to 43 walks, 9 home runs, 1.32 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (1-for-15, .067), Justin Smoak (1-for-11, .091), Brendan Ryan (1-for-8, .125), Dustin Ackley (2-for-12, .167), Raul Ibanez (1-for-6, .167).
- HATES TO FACE: Kyle Seager (5-for-13, .385).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. DARVISH: 15-for-96, .156 BA, 33 strikeouts, 13 walks, 0 home runs, .270 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Texas (Friday-Sunday), three at Houston (Monday-Wednesday). The Mariners return home April 25 to face the Angels.
- The Mariners hit seven home runs at Safeco Field during the season’s opening home stand (10 games). With fences farther back last year, the Mariners also hit seven homers in the season’s first 10 games.
- During the three-game series with Detroit, the Mariners struck out 40 times and posted a team batting average of just .218.
- Hisashi Iwakuma, who pitched six scoreless innings Thursday, came away with a no-decision but lowered his ERA from 2.18 to 1.69.
- Kyle Seager, who had the RBI double in the seventh inning to give Seattle the lead Thursday, has a seven-game hitting streak. His double was his eighth of the year, most in the majors.
- Carter Capps’ victory Thursday — at Justin Verlander’s expense — was the first of his major league career.
- In the Mariners’ seven victories, they are batting .351 (20-for-57) with runners in scoring position. In 10 losses, the Mariners are batting .135 (8-for-59) with RISP. The Mariners have no hits with RISP six times in 17 games.
- The Mariners Thursday recalled RHP Hector Noesi from AAA Tacoma and optioned LHP Bobby LaFromboise to the Rainiers. Noesi started the year with AA Jackson, going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts to earn Southern League Pitcher of the Week honors. The right-hander did not allow a run and scattered five hits in 11.0 innings (12 strikeouts, 3 walks). He was transferred to AAA Tacoma Monday, but did not pitch.
- The Mariners are in the midst of 16 games in 16 games. They will not have their next day off until May 2.
|4/19||Fri||at Tex||LHP Joe Saunders (1-1) vs. Yu Darvish (2-1)|
|4/20||Sat||at Tex||RHP Brandon Maurer (1-2) vs. RHP Nick Tepesch (1-1)|
|4/21||Sun||at Tex||RHP Aaron Harang (0-0) vs. LHP Derek Holland (0-1)|
|4/22||Mon||at Hou||RHP Felix Hernandez (1-2) vs. RHP Brad Peacock (1-1)|
|4/23||Tue||at Hou||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) vs. RHP Bud Norris (2-2)|
|4/24||Wed||at Hou||LHP Joe Saunders (1-1) vs. RHP Lucas Harrell (0-2)|
I’m wondering if the new closer fences has the sluggers trying to hit every pitch out, resulting in a lot of strike outs