GAME: Rangers (30-17, 1st, AL West, +5.5 GA) at Mariners (20-27, 3rd, AL West, -10.0 GB). GAME #: 48. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 8th (Rangers lead 5-2). WHEN: Friday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 6; Rangers W 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
One thing you can say for sure about Mariners manager Eric Wedge: He’s no pessimist, even at a time when pessimism among Seattle fans is running rampant. The club has lost a season-high six games in a row, including 12-0 and 7-1 bloodlettings in the two-game series against the L.A. Angels. Plus, the Mariners are seven games under .500 and 10 games back in the division race. Not to worry, Wedge suggests.
“There’s no panic,” Wedge informed reporters after the Angels had cleaned up on his ball club by a combined 19-1. “I mean, panic’s not in my vocabulary, and it better not be in theirs (his players). The coolest cat wins. We’re two series removed from winning five out of six series, and even then we didn’t feel like we were the ball club we could still be. So it’s all right there for us. We just have to go out and take it.”
The Mariners will catch a couple of breaks when they host the AL West-leading Texas Rangers this weekend at Safeco Field. First, they will have the front of their rotation — Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Joe Saunders — working the series. Second, they will not have to deal with Texas’ Yu Darvish, who misses the Mariners this time.
Saunders gets the call Friday. He will take a Safeco record of 3-0, 0.94 ERA 0.87 WHIP into the contest (vs. 0-4, 11.25, 2.50 on the road) against RHP Justin Grimm, who is 1-0, 2.70 ERA in his career against the Mariners.
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (3-4, 5.64 ERA, 1.61 WHIP)
The 31-year-old Saunders, a Virginia native in his ninth major league season and first with the Mariners, will make his 10th start and third against the Rangers. Saunders received a no-decision the first time he faced Texas April 13, and came back a week later and absorbed a 7-0 loss in Arlington. Except for a no-decision in his last outing, he’s alternated wins and losses since April 29.
- LAST START: May 18 at Cleveland, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 5-4 loss; 4 earned runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings; 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 120 pitches, 73 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RANGERS: April 19 at Arlington, lost 7-0; 7 earned runs on 9 hits in 4.2 innings; 0 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 95 pitches, 53 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. RANGERS: 3-8, 6.30 ERA in 13 starts covering 70.0 innings; 50 strikeouts, 25 walks, 16 home runs, 1.28 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 9-0, 1.72 ERA in 13 starts covering 83.2 innings; 38 strikeouts, 27 walks, 5 home runs, 1.07 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Elvis Andrus (2-for-10, .200), David Murphy (2-for-10, .200), A.J. Pierzynski (4-for-16, .250).
- HATES TO FACE: Geovany Soto (4-for-6, .667), Jeff Baker (5-for-14, .357), Ian Kinsler (10-for-30, .333).
- CURRENT RANGERS VS. SAUNDERS: 47-for-151, .311 BA, 14 strikeouts, 13 walks, 8 home runs, .367 on-base percentage.
ANGELS: RHP Justin Grimm (3-3, 4.02 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)
The 24-year-old Grimm, a Bristol, TN., native in his second major league season, both with Texas, will make his eighth start and third against the Mariners. Grimm took a no-decision April 11 in his first outing against the Mariners and came back 10 days later and beat them 11-3 at Safeco Field. He went on a three-game losing streak before coming back with a win over Detroit in his last start.
- LAST START: May 18, defeated Detroit 7-2; 2 earned runs on 7 hits in 6.2 innings; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 105 pitches, 62 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: April 21, defeated Seattle 11-3; 2 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.0 innings; 9 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 96 pitches, 55 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 1-0, 2.70 ERA in 2 starts covering 10.0 innings; 11 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1 home run, 1.50 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 0-0, 4.50 ERA in 1 start covering 4.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 2.00 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (0-for-5, .000), Jason Bay (0-for-2, .000), Justin Smoak (1-for-5, .200).
- HATES TO FACE: Dustin Ackley (1-for-2, .500), Michael Morse (2-for-5, .400), Kyle Seager (2-for-6, .333).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. GRIMM: 11-for-42, .262 BA, 11 strikeouts, 4 walks, home run, .326 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Texas (Friday-Sunday), two vs. San Diego (Monday-Tuesday). Following the home stand, the Mariners leave for a two-game road trip in San Diego, followed by three at Minnesota. The Mariners, with 20 games in 20 days, return to Safeco Field June 3 against White Sox.
- In their past two starts, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma combined to allow 10 earned runs. In their 18 previous combined starts, they collaborated for a 1.68 ERA. Hernandez ranks third in the AL in ERA (2.07) while Iwakuma ranks fifth (2.37).
- Raul Ibanez has six home runs and 14 RBIs over his past 10 games. He has recorded at least one hit in 10 of his past 14 contests.
- Right-handed batters are 0-for-31 against closer Tom Wilhelmsen.
|5/24||Fri||vs. Tex||LHP Joe Saunders (3-4) vs. RHP Justin Grimm (3-3)|
|5/25||Sat||vs. Tex||RHP Felix Hernandez (5-3) vs. LHP Derek Holland (3-2)|
|5/26||Sun||vs. Tex||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (5-) vs. RHP Nick Tepesch (3-4)|
|5/27||Mon||vs. SD||TBA vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (3-5)|