GAME: Mariners (55-56, 3rd, AL West, -13.0 GB) at Rangers (70-51, 1st, AL West, +1.5 GA). GAME #: 121. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 14th (Rangers lead 8-5). WHEN: Friday, 5:05 p.m., Rangers Ballpark. STREAKS: Mariners L 2; Rangers W 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Based on the year he had with the L.A. Dodgers — .334 BA, 48 home runs, 121 RBIs — before signing a five-year, $64 million deal with the Mariners, Adrian Beltre’s time in Seattle (2005-09) was rather a disappointment. Although he played a flawless third base, his power numbers were never there. A lasting image of him at the plate was Beltre corkscrewing himself into the batter’s box as he tried to blast the ball over the Columbia Center.
Beltre signed with Boston as a free agent in 2010 and it was the best thing he ever did for his career. In fact, of all the ex-Mariners who have gone on to All-Star careers elsewhere, and the numbers are legion, none — at least no hitter — has done it better than Beltre.
He never made an All-Star team while in Seattle. He’s been a three-time honoree since, once with Boston, twice with Texas. In five Seattle seasons, he hit 103 home runs. He’s knocked 121 in less than four since. Beltre never drove in more than 99 runs in a season with the Mariners, but he’s driven in 100 or more three times since and is working on a fourth.
Beltre was a .266 hitter for the Mariners. He’s been a .320 hitter since, and his 153 base hits currently lead the American League. A more pressing concern for the Mariners is that he feasts on Hisashi Iwakuma, whom he’ll see Friday night when Seattle travels to Texas.
Beltre is a .353 hitter against Iwakuma and a Mariner wrecker generally, batting .333 in the first 13 games of this season’s series.
It’s asking a lot of Iwakuma to snap his two-game losing streak against home-run-happy Texas, but that’s his task Friday. He’ll oppose LHP Derek Holland, always tough on Seattle with an 8-2, 3.36 career mark in 15 games.
Series heads up: Texas has won nine of his last 10 games, Iwakuma is winless (0-2) in his career at Rangers Ballpark and Felix Hernandez, who pitches Saturday, is 12-18 lifetime against the Rangers, including 0-2 in three starts this season.
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6, 2.96 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 26th start and fourth against the Rangers. Iwakuma is 1-1, 3.05 in three starts against the Rangers this season with 16 strikeouts vs. two walks. The Rangers have tagged him for four home runs. Iwakuma has lost his last two outings and hasn’t won since July 25 vs. Minnesota. He tweaked his back against Milwaukee on a fielding play and gave the Brewers six hits on his next 12 pitches.
- LAST START: Aug. 10 vs. Milwaukee, lost 10-0; 6 earned runs on 9 hits in 6.2 innings; 3 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 81 pitches, 50 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RANGERS: July 4 at Texas, lost 5-4; 4 earned runs on 5 hits in 6.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 home runs, 88 pitches, 54 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. RANGERS: 2-3, 4.17 ERA in 7 games, including 6 starts, covering 41.0 innings; 24 strikeouts, 7 walks, 8 home runs, 1.14 WHIP.
- AT RANGERS BALLPARK: 0-2, 5.65 ERA in 3 games, including 2 starts, covering 14.1 innings; 6 strikeouts, 3 walks, 4 home runs, 1.39 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Lance Berkman (0-for-8, .000), Mitch Moreland (1-for-12, .083), Elvis Andrus (3-for-14, .214).
- HATES TO FACE: Ian Kinsler (5-for-16, .400), Adrian Beltre (6-for-17, .353), Craig Gentry (3-for-6, .333).
- CURRENT RANGERS VS. IWAKUMA: 34-for-142, .239 BA, 23 strikeouts, 4 walks, 8 home runs, .264 on-base percentage.
RANGERS: LHP Derek Holland (9-6, 3.07 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
The 26-year-old Holland, a Newark, OH., native in his fifth major league season, all with Texas, will make his 25th start and third against the Mariners. Holland is 8-2 with a 3.36 ERA in 11 starts and four relief appearances against the Mariners in his career. That’s his most victories against any one club. He is 1-2 with a 3.06 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break.
- LAST START: Aug. 10 at Houston, took a no-decision in Texas’ 5-4 win; 3 earned runs on 6 hits in 6.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 106 pitches, 66 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: July 3, took a no-decision in a 4-2 Texas loss; 2 earned runs on 7 hits in 6.0 innings; 10 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 104 pitches, 68 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 8-2, 3.36 ERA in 15 games, including 11 starts, covering 77.2 innings; 81 strikeouts, 22 walks, 8 home runs, 1.18 WHIP.
- AT RANGERS BALLPARK: 24-18, .497 ERA in 66 games, including 58 starts, covering 357.0 innings; 305 strikeouts, 116 walks, 57 home runs, 1.43 WHIP.
- LOVE TO FACE: Michael Saunders (0-for-11, .000), Dustin Ackley (3-for-19, .158), Brendan Ryan (3-for-16, .188).
- HATES TO FACE: Kyle Seager (6-for-17, .353), Michael Morse (1-for-3, .333), Raul Ibanez (1-for-3, .333).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. HOLLAND: 32-for-146, .219 BA, 45 strikeouts, 9 walks, 3 home runs, .265 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Tampa Bay (Tuesday-Thursday), three at Texas (Friday-Sunday), three at Oakland (Monday-Wednesday). Following a day off Thursday, Mariners begin a six-game home stand Aug. 23 vs. the Angels and Rangers.
- The home run by Raul Ibanez Thursday was his 25th, and first since July 12 when he hit two against the Angels. Ibanez needs four home runs to tie Ted Williams’ 1960 major league record for most homers in a season by a 41-year-old.
- Tampa’s Wil Myers had four RBIs in the Rays’ 7-1 victory over the Mariners Thursday night. It was the third four-RBI game for Myers.
- According to acting manager Robby Thompson, manager Eric Wedge might return to the dugout for the next home stand. “He’s passing everything with flying colors,” Thompson told mariners.com. “He’s feeling much better. And there’s a real good chance that he’ll rejoin us when we get back. That’s kind of where it stands right now.” Wedge suffered a minor stroke July 22.
- Former closer Tom Wilhelmsen is 0-1 with a 10.50 ERA in 6.0 innings since being optioned to AAA Tacoma.
|8/16||Fri||at Tex||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6) vs. LHP Derek Holland (9-6)|
|8/17||Sat||at Tex||RHP Felix Hernandez (12-5) vs. LHP Martin Perez (5-3)|
|8/18||Sun||at Tex||RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-0) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (12-5)|
|8/19||Mon||at Oak||RHP Aaron Harang (5-10) vs. RHP Jarrod Parker (8-6)|
|8/20||Tue||at Oak||LHP Joe Saunders (10-12) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (0-1)|
|8/21||Wed||at Oak||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (10-8)|
Beltre never hit the way anyone hoped he would in Seattle, but he did something his first season here that made him my favorite Mariner the rest of his time with the team. I was engineering the broadcast at the radio affiliate I worked for at the time, but many details escape me beyond this scenario:
It was a throwaway game late in another lost season when both Seattle catchers ended up getting hurt and Hargrove was scrambling to find someone to fill in. Beltre, who was sitting out, apparently OFFERED to play catcher even though Niehaus said he hadn’t played the position since Little League. It struck me that here was a guy making eight figures for a lousy team getting a rare night off late in a crummy season who was willing to step in on a moment’s notice to play the most difficult defensive position on the field even though he hadn’t played it in years and stood nothing to personally gain by it. Hargrove eventually found someone else, but Beltre impressed me as the ultimate “team-first” guy that night and I’ve been in his corner ever since.
Letting Beltre get away was a mistake and bringing Figgins (definitely not a “team-first” guy) only compounded it, but I’m glad that Adrian has been so successful in Boston and Texas. He’s still one of my favorites.
“Mariners (55-56, 3rd, AL West, -13.0 GB)”
The M’s are actually 55-65 (not 56), and 14.5 games behind Texas (not 13).