GAME: Mariners (37-47, 4th, AL West, -11.5 GB) at Rangers (48-36, 2nd, AL West, -0.5 GB). GAME #: 85. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 13th (Rangers lead 7-5). WHEN: Thursday, 5:05 p.m., Rangers Ballpark. STREAKS: Mariners W 2; Rangers L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
When Kendrys Morales had two home runs in Seattle’s 9-2 victory over the Texas Rangers Wednesday, giving him 11 for the season, he became the fifth player to hit at least 10. Raul Ibanez (20) tops the list, followed by Kyle Seager (12), Morales, Michael Morse (11) and Jason Bay (11).
This is the first time Seattle has featured five hitters with at least 10 home runs prior to the All-Star break since 1999, when six Mariners had 10 or more, topped by Ken Griffey Jr.’s 28 and Alex Rodriguez’s 18. Despite such prodigious thumping, the 1999 Mariners didn’t go anywhere (79-83), and neither are the current Mariners.
But in the past two games, they have produced what is likely to go down as two of the major highlights of the 2013 season. As a follow-up to the 9-2 win Wednesday, the Mariners went into extra innings Thursday and defeated the Rangers again, 4-2, when Seager bashed a two-run homer, his 12th.
The Mariners, 37-47, have a chance to sweep the Rangers in Arlington, something they haven’t done since Sept. 24-26, 2001, and win three in a row for the first time since May 1-4. It’s largely up to Hisashi Iwakuma.
Iwakuma hasn’t won in three weeks, developing a penchant for giving up home runs. Iwakuma remains tied with luckless Felix Hernandez (three straight no decisions, four in his past five outings) with 12 quality starts.
Iwakuma opposes Martin Perez, who only recently joined the Rangers rotation after starting the season at AAA Round Rock (Pacific Coast League). A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3, 2.42 ERA, 0.87 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 18th start and third against the Rangers. Iwakuma is 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in two outings against Texas this season with 14 strikeouts vs. one walk. Iwakuma hasn’t won since June 10. He has two losses and a no-decision for show for his last three outings.
- LAST START: June 28 vs. the Cubs, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 5-4 victory; 4 earned runs on 6 hits in 8.0 innings; 5 strikeouts, 0 walks, 2 home runs, 90 pitches, 69 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RANGERS: May 26, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 4-3 victory; 2 earned runs on 5 hits in 8.0 innings; 8 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run, 96 pitches, 74 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. RANGERS: 2-2, 3.86 ERA in 6 games, including 5 starts, covering 35.0 innings; 22 strikeouts, 6 walks, 6 home runs, 1.17 WHIP.
- AT RANGERS BALLPARK: 0-1, 5.40 ERA in 2 games, including 1 start, covering 8.1 innings; 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 home runs, 1.68 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Lance Berkman (0-for-6, .000), Mitch Moreland (1-for-10, .100), Elvis Andrus (2-for-12, .167).
- HATES TO FACE: Ian Kinsler (6-for-12, .500), Craig Gentry (3-for-6, .500), Adrian Beltre (4-for-14, .286).
- CURRENT RANGERS VS. IWAKUMA: 28-for-113, .248 BA, 21 strikeouts, 3 walks, 5 home runs, .271 on-base percentage.
RANGERS: LHP Martin Perez (2-1, 2.37 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
The 22-year-old Perez, a Venezuela native in his second major league season, both with Texas, makes his fourth start and first against the Mariners. Perez did not join the Rangers rotation until May 27 following a call up with AAA Round Rock, where he went 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA. After losing his first start, the lefty has won two in a row.
- LAST START: June 28 vs. Cincinnati, won 4-0; 0 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.2 innings; 3 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 79 pitches, 52 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Sept. 21, 2012, lost 6-3; 3 earned runs on 6 hits in 4.0 innings; 3 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 81 pitches, 52 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 0-1, 2.89 ERA in 3 games, including 1 start, covering 9.1 innings; eight strikeouts, 4 walks, 0 home runs, 1.07 WHIP.
- AT RANGERS BALLPARK: 2-2, 4.11 ERA in 9 games, including 5 starts, covering 30.2 innings; 19 strikeouts, 10 walks, 1 home run, 1.43 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Dustin Ackley (0-for-5, .000), Kyle Seager (0-for-5, .000), Michael Saunders (0-for-3, .000).
- HATES TO FACE: Justin Smoak (2-for-2, 1.000).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. PEREZ: 4-for-25, .160 BA, 6 strikeouts, 4 walks, 0 home runs, .276 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Texas (Tuesday-Thursday), three at Cincinnati (Friday-Sunday). The Mariners are in the midst of 13 games in 13 days that will take them to the All-Star break.
- Wednesday’s starter, Felix Hernandez, took a no-decision, his third in a row and fourth in five games. Hernandez hasn’t won in Texas since Sept. 28, 2010.
- Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak had three hits Wednesday. Smoak’s trio lifted his batting average to a season-high .255.
- The Mariners have produced eight multi-homer games this season, one more than the season total from 2012.
- Seattle has back-to-back home runs five times this season. Raul Ibanez has been on the front end of the assault four times, including Wednesday.
- Ibanez is working on an eight-game hitting streak.
- Six of Jason Bay’s 11 home runs (all solo shots) have come in the seventh inning or later.
- The Mariners face Homer Bailey when they play the Cincinnati Reds Sunday. Bailey is coming off a 3-0 no-hitter over Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants.
|7/4||Thr||at Tex||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3) vs. LHP Martin Perez (2-1)|
|7/5||Fri||at Cin||RHP Aaron Harang (3-7) vs. RHP Mat Latos (7-2)|
|7/6||Sat||at Cin||RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-2) vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (7-6)|
|7/7||Sun||at Cin||LHP Joe Saunders (5-8) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (5-6)|