After leading the American League West for much of the first two months, the Seattle Mariners now face an important home series against the Texas Rangers.
The Texas Rangers have been among the hottest teams in baseball the last six weeks and have turned the Seattle Mariners‘ division lead into a four-game deficit. Last weekend Texas (37-23) swept Seattle (33-27) in Arlington, and the Mariners will have another chance to prove they can hang with the defending AL West Champions. In order to keep pace with the Rangers, Seattle will have to turn their home woes around. Oddly enough the Mariners are two games under .500 at home, while owning a 19-11 record on the road.
Both teams’ lineups could have a different look from last week as the series kicks off Friday evening. Seattle is hoping for outfielder Leonys Martin to be activated from the disabled list as soon as today, while shortstop Ketel Marte will also be in the lineup for the M’s after missing last weekend’s series. Texas, on the other hand, might not have the services of Adrian Beltre as he is listed as day-to-day with a hamstring issue. Seattle could certainly use the extra offensive reinforcements as they look to keep up with the hot-hitting Rangers.
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Tonight’s pitching matchup has Derek Holland (5-4, 4.53 ERA) on the bump for Texas against Hisashi Iwakuma (4-5, 4.13 ERA). Iwakuma was solid last Sunday against Texas and the M’s will need him to turn in a similar performance in an effort to start the series off on the right foot.
Saturday’s game has Colby Lewis (5-0, 3.20 ERA) facing off against James Paxton (0-2, 3.72 ERA). Lewis has had a nice bounce back this season, while Paxton will look to build on his 10K performance against Cleveland earlier in the week.
The series finale will pair Cole Hamels (5-1, 3.32 ERA) against Wade Miley (6-2, 5.27 ERA). Texas figures to have an upper hand with Hamels on the mound, so it will be imperative for the M’s to come away with at least one win in the first two games.
Both teams understand the importance of this match-up in early June. Texas knows they can give themselves a bit of breathing room with a good series, while the Mariners know they need to put forth a good effort to keep themselves within striking distance of their first division crown since 2001. Understanding the importance of the upcoming series, second baseman Robinson Cano remarked after last night’s defeat, “We’ve just got to keep fighting. There’s a lot of games left in the season. The last thing you can do is hang your head.”
This weekend in Seattle should have a playoff-type atmosphere as the home crowd will look to provide the Mariners an added boost. Meanwhile, Texas will look to further prove they are still the top dog in the division. It should be an exciting weekend of action in the Pacific Northwest as two postseason-caliber teams face off with midseason divisional supremacy hanging in the balance.