Josh Hamilton After Two-Run Walk-Off Homer July 9 (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Texas Rangers (51-41) at Seattle Mariners (43-48) Game 1 of 4 Preview (9:10 pm CT)

Despite recent struggles for the entire team, Rangers organization and especially Josh Hamilton, the Texas Rangers have been pretty impressive as of late and will head to Seattle tonight for the first of four games at Safeco Field. The Rangers will try to get their eighth consecutive victory after taking all seven games of their most recent home stand. Their current seven game winning streak is the highest of the season for the Rangers.

Regardless of their recent success, they currently only remain one full game ahead of the Los Angeles Angels, who aren’t going to go down without a fight in this second half of the MLB season. In addition, these two teams are scheduled to meet next week in Anaheim for a three-game set.

For now, the team is currently second in runs (457), batting average (.272) and slugging percentage (.446). They are then sixth for one base percentage (.331).

The Rangers took a sweep of the Mariners in Arlington at the start of the season but when they visited Seattle in May, they lost the series giving up two of three to the Mariners. They’ll look to continue the success of the first series. With that said, here is a look at your pitching matchups and pitchers vs. hitters stats.

Pitching Matchups

LHP Jason Vargas starts for the Mariners. He is 6-6 for the season with a 3.49 ERA. The 28-year-old lefty has four wins in his previous 10 games including three complete game shutouts on June 3, June 19 and July 1. Last time out, he allowed only two runs on five hits over eight innings while striking out six batters and walking just one, but didn’t have the run support from his team – in fact, didn’t have any at all – and took the loss. However, this isn’t new as the Mariners are currently last when it comes to run support this year in the Major Leagues. If they have any intention on getting their pitcher a win, they are going to have to get some hits in. Earlier this season, Vargas held the Rangers to just one run over 7.2 innings while posting a low 1.17 ERA.

Derek Holland (AP Photo/Jeffery Washington)

LHP Derek Holland, who is coming off his third career complete game shutout, is 7-4 for the season with a 4.68 ERA. He has seen his share of struggles as of late with three of his four losses having come within just the last month. The young lefty didn’t even last a full inning against the Florida Marlins on June 2 when he allowed five runs in just 0.2 innings. He showed last time out that he still has some stuff in him and Washington has left him in the starting rotation for now. However, he’ll probably be the first to go if he gets back to his recent ways of being unable to execute his pitches properly. Earlier this year, he allowed three runs in six innings against the Mariners while posting a 4.50 ERA.

Pitchers vs. Hitters

LHP Jason Vargas: Aside from Yorvit Torrealba, who is 3-for-5 with one homer and one RBI, the highest batting average against Vargas goes to Michael Young, who is 7-for-18 with two RBIs and has the most experience against Vargas. Ian Kinsler is 5-for-14 with three doubles and one RBI and Nelson Cruz is 4-for-13 while Mike Napoli is 5-for-17. Out of eight at-bats, David Murphy has yet to get a hit off Vargas and Josh Hamilton has consistently struggled going 1-for-10. Elvis Andrus has also struggled with just two hits out of 16 at-bats.

LHP Derek Holland: Ichiro Suzuki is 4-for-15 with two doubles and three RBIs and Chone Figgins is 4-for-13 with a double and two RBIs. Justin Smoak is 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Adam Kennedyt is 1-for-1 and Jack Cust is 2-for-6. None of the Mariners have secured a home run off Holland and the lefty will look to keep it that way tonight.

Just Some Thoughts

Hopefully, the break for the All-Star Game will have a great impact on the team as whole. Mitch Moreland had a couple days’ rest previously and when he came back to the field, he was hot at the plate. Hopefully, this will rub off more on Moreland as well as some of his teammates, such as the somewhat struggling Ian Kinsler, who can’t seem to find his groove that he had at the start of the season.

Further, this break will hopefully help continue the hot streak that Josh Hamilton and Michael Young have going for them. Michael Young has remained the most consistent player on the team this entire year and has a .323 batting average, the highest on the team.

Tags: Derek Holland Ian Kinsler Jason Vargas Josh Hamilton Michael Young Mike Napoli Mitch Moreland Rangers Rangers At Mariners Rangers Preview Texas Rangers Yorvit Torrealba

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