GAME: Mariners (7-12, 4th, AL West, -5.5 GB) at Rangers (11-6, 2nd, AL West, -0.5 GB). GAME #: 20. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 7th (Texas leads 4-2). WHEN: Sunday, 12:05 p.m., Rangers Ballpark. STREAKS: Mariners L 2; Rangers W 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Critics rebuked — properly so — the 2012 Mariners for ranking 14th and last in the American League in batting average (.234), on-base percentage (.296) and slugging (.369). The Mariners tried to rectify these blemishes to their statistical portfolio by importing Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez, but so far what the Mariners have to show for the upgrades is nada, nil and zip, take your pick.
After sustaining back-to-back 7-0 and 5-0 losses to start a six-game road trip through Texas and Houston, Seattle’s first consecutive goose-egg games since June 24-25, 2012, the Mariners rank 15th in batting average (.218), 13th in on-base percentage (.285) and 15th in slugging (.342) — worse across the board in every category.
With 156 strikeouts, the Mariners are also on pace to whiff 1,330 times, which would break the franchise single-season record of 1,280 set in 2011.
The Mariners have been scoreless the past 19 innings and totaled five runs in their last five games, a drought that new No. 4 starter Aaron Harang will inherit Sunday when he attempts to keep Seattle from suffering its first series sweep of a rapidly deteriorating campaign (9-10 after 19 games a year ago).
Harang, who allowed three earned runs in his first Seattle start last week against Detroit, has made only three career starts at Rangers Ballpark, but they are three he would prefer to forget (12.34 ERA). He will oppose LHP Justin Grimm, who had a forgettable no-decision against the Mariners April 11. A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Aaron Harang (0-1, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
The 34-year-old Harang, a San Diego native in his 12th major league season and first with the Mariners, will make his second start and first against the Rangers, a club he hasn’t faced since 2007. Harang, who became Seattle’s No. 4 starter when he replaced Blake Beavan in the rotation, is probably not looking forward to pitching at Rangers Ballpark. In three career starts there covering 11.2 innings, Harang has a bulbous 12.34 ERA.
- LAST START: April 16 vs. Detroit, lost 6-2; 3 earned runs on 7 hits in 5.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run, 95 pitches, 68 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RANGERS: June 16, 2007, won 8-4; 2 earned runs on 6 hits in 5.2 innings; 5 strikeouts, 3 walks, 0 home runs, 122 pitches, 73 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. RANGERS: 1-0, 9.35 ERA in four starts covering 17.1 innings; 12 strikeouts, 10 walks, 4 home runs, 2.01 WHIP.
- AT RANGERS BALLPARK: 0-0, 12.34 ERA in three starts covering 11.2 innings; 7 strikeouts, 7 walks, 4 home runs, 2.22 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Adrian Beltre (1-for-8, .125), A.J. Pierzynski (2-for-10, .200), Geovany Soto (5-for-23, .217).
- HATES TO FACE: Jeff Baker (1-for-1, 1.000), Ian Kinsler (1-for-3, .333), Lance Berkman (15-for-58, .259).
- CURRENT RANGERS VS. HARANG: 26-for-104, .250 BA, 27 strikeouts, 13 walks, 9 home runs, .336 on-base percentage.
RANGERS: LHP Justin Grimm (0-0, 4.50 ERA, 2.00 WHIP)
The 24-year-old Grimm, a Bristol, TN., native in his second major league season, both with Texas, will make his second start and second against the Mariners. Grimm made his first start last Thursday and allowed two runs in four innings. He was called up from AAA Round Rock after Matt Harrison went on the disabled list with a strained back. Grimm was supposed to start Wednesday, but the game was rained out.
- LAST START: April 11 at Seattle, took a no-decision in the Rangers’ 4-3 win; 2 earned runs on 5 hits in 4.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 92 pitches, 50 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Same as last start.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 0-0, 4.50 ERA in 1 start covering 4.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 3 walks, 2.00 WHIP.
- AT RANGERS BALLPARK: 1-1, 9.00 ERA in 3 games, including 2 starts covering 10.0 innings; 9 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 1.90 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Kyle Seager (0-for-3, .000), Robert Andino (0-for-2, .000), Raul Ibanez (0-for-2, .000).
- HATES TO FACE: Michael Morse (2-for-2, 1.000), Jesus Montero (1-for-2, .500), Franklin Gutierrez (1-for-3, .333).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. GRIMM: 5-for-18, .278 BA, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, .381 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Texas (Friday-Sunday), three at Houston (Monday-Wednesday). The Mariners will return to Safeco Field Thursday to face the Angels in a four-game series. That will be followed by three against the Baltimore Orioles.
- Rookie Brandon Maurer pitched the best game of his brief career Saturday, allowing two hits in 6.2 innings, but both were home runs in a 5-0 Texas win. Maurer issued three walks and struck out two. Although he lost, dropping his record to 1-3, Maurer lowered his ERA from 16.20 to 7.45 with back-to-back quality starts.
- Kyle Seager, with a 2-for-3 night, extended his hitting streak to nine games Saturday, longest by a Mariner in 2013. Seager is 11-for-33 over his last nine games.
- After starting just two of the previous seven games due to soreness in his legs, CF Franklin Gutierrez was back in the Mariners lineup Saturday (1-for-4 with 2 strikeouts).
- In the Mariners’ seven victories, they are batting .351 (20-for-57) with runners in scoring position. In 12 losses, the Mariners are batting .116 (8-for-69) with RISP. The Mariners have no hits with RISP eight times in 19 games.
- The Mariners are in the midst of 16 games in 16 games. They will not have their next day off until May 2.
|4/21||Sun||at Tex||RHP Aaron Harang (0-1) vs. RHP Justin Grimm (0-0)|
|4/22||Mon||at Hou||RHP Felix Hernandez (1-2) vs. RHP Brad Peacock (1-1)|
|4/23||Tue||at Hou||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0) vs. RHP Bud Norris (2-2)|
|4/24||Wed||at Hou||LHP Joe Saunders (1-2) vs. RHP Lucas Harrell (0-2)|