GAME: Rangers (32-17, 1st, AL West, +5.5 GA) at Mariners (20-29, 4th, AL West, -12.0 GB). GAME #: 50. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 10th (Rangers lead 7-2). WHEN: Sunday, 1:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 8; Rangers W 3. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Safe to say that without the contributions of Hisashi Iwakuma, the Mariners would be in a woeful slog with the Houston Astros for last place in the AL West. In addition to Iwakuma’s 5-1 record, he leads the American League in WHIP (0.86), ranks ninth in fewest walks per nine innings (1.53), 10th in hits allowed per nine (6.2) and 10th in ERA (2.37).
He’s also only one of two Seattle starters to defeat the AL West-leading Texas Rangers this season, and has a chance to notch win No. 2 Sunday. The Mariners haven’t had one of those in a long time. Saturday night, they threw their ace, Felix Hernandez, at the AL West-leading Rangers, but came away with their eighth consecutive defeat when Hernandez allowed five earned runs on a season-high 11 hits.
Seattle’s eight-game losing streak is its longest since a 17-game slide July 6-26, 2011. The Mariners started that streak 3.5 games out in the AL West and ended it 15.5 games behind. When the Mariners began their current plunge, they were in second place in the division race. They are now fourth, having dropped to 12.0 games out.
Iwakuma will oppose RHP Nick Tepesch, who has struggled, with losses in three of his past four starts.
The Mariners announced after Saturday’s game that 1B Justin Smoak suffered a strained oblique muscle. He will be re-evaluated Sunday.
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 2.37 ERA, 0.86 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with the Mariners, will make his 11th start and second against the Rangers. Iwakuma had a three-game winning streak snapped when he lost at Cleveland May 20 in a game in which he allowed a season-high five earned runs. Thanks to a late spate of Seattle home runs, he avoided his second loss. Iwakuma has already defeated Texas this season.
- LAST START: May 20 at Cleveland, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 10-8 loss; 5 earned runs on 7 hits in 6.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 3 walks, 2 home runs, 101 pitches, 64 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RANGERS: April 12, defeated the Rangers 3-1 at Safeco Field; 1 earned run on 3 hits in 6.2 innings; 6 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 89 pitches, 62 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. RANGERS: 2-2, 4.33 ERA in 5 games, including 4 starts, covering 27.0 innings; 14 strikeouts, six walks, 5 home runs, 1.33 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 8-3, 2.12 ERA in 21 games, including 14 starts, covering 101.2 innings; 93 strikes, 28 walks, 9 home runs, 1.03 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Mitch Moreland (0-for-7, .000), Elvis Andrus (2-for-12, .167), Nelson Cruz (2-for-11, .182).
- HATES TO FACE: Craig Gentry (3-for-6, .500), David Murphy (5-for-12, .417), Adrian Beltre (3-for-11, .273).
- CURRENT RANGERS VS. IWAKUMA: 23 for-87, .264 BA, 13 strikeouts, 3 walks, 4 home runs, .297 on-base percentage.
RANGERS: RHP Nick Tepesch (3-4, 3.98 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
The 24-year-old Tepesch, a Kansas City native in his first major league season, will make his ninth start and third against the Mariners. Tepesch has a loss (April 14) and a no-decision (April 20) against Seattle this season. He has lost three of his past four outings, including his last one. He’s worked into the seventh inning in just three of his starts.
- LAST START: May 17 vs. Detroit, lost 2-1; 2 earned runs on 6 hits in 5.0 innings; 1 strikeout, 3 walks, 0 home runs, 96 pitches, 57 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: April 20, took a no-decision in a 5-0 win; 0 earned runs on 2 hits in 1.2 innings; 5 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run, 102 pitches, 65 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 0-1, 4.91 ERA in 2 starts covering 7.1 innings; 5 strikeouts, 3 walks, 0 home runs, 1.50 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 0-1, 6.35 ERA in 1 start covering 5.2 innings; 5 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 1.58 ERA.
- LOVES TO FACE: Jason Bay (0-for-3, .000), Raul Ibanez (1-for-4, .250).
- HATES TO FACE: Dustin Ackley (1-for-3, .333), Justin Smoak (1-for-3, .333).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. HOLLAND: 11-for-33, .333 BA, 8 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run, .353 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 will play two at San Diego (Wednesday-Thursday) and three at Minnesota (Friday-Sunday). The Mariners are amid 20 games in 20 days with their next day off June 13.
- Saturday’s crowd of 35,022, fueled by 20,000 Felix boblehead giveaways, was the largest since the home opener.
- With Saturday’s loss, Felix Hernandez (5-4) is now 12-18 all-time in his career against the Rangers. His 18 defeats are the most he’s sustained against any team. The 11 hits he allowed were a season high.
- Kendrys Morales has a hit in 17 of his past 20, batting .342.
- Brendan Ryan has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games, batting .389 over that span.
- Michael Morse has hit safely in eight of his past 11 contests, batting .333.
- The Mariners went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners stranded.
|5/26||Sun||vs. Tex||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1) vs. RHP Nick Tepesch (3-4)|
|5/27||Mon||vs. SD||RHP Aaron Harang (1-5) vs. LHP Clayton Richard (0-4)|
|5/28||Tue||vs. SD||RHP Brandon Maurer (2-6) RHP Edinson Volquez (3-5)|
|5/29||Wed||at SD||LHP Joe Saunders (3-5) vs. LHP Eric Stults (4-4)|
|5/30||Thr||at SD||RHP Felix Hernandez (5-3) vs. Andrew Cashner (3-2)|