The Rangers got a much needed victory on Wednesday against the Oakland A’s (read about it here) after losing two straight. The Rangers are one of two teams left (the other being the NY Yankees) to not yet have a three game losing streak on the season. After a day off yesterday, the Rangers begin a three game set against the division rival Seattle Mariners.
The Marniers can pitch, we all know that. And at home they can pitch even better, plus the Kingdome is a tough place to get hits, as it is known as one of the most friendly pitchers ballparks in all of baseball. Seattle is a middle of the road team pitching overall this season (4.32 ERA) but that changes at home. The Mariners as a pitching staff have an ERA of 5.17 on the road, but that drops to 3.26 at home. As far as their offense goes the M’s come into this series with a .239 batting average as a squad overall, but they have a .255 average at home. So, like most major league teams, the Mariners play better at home than they do on the road. Seattle is never an easy place to go and win a series, no matter how the Mariners are playing season wise.
Tonight we will get Rangers yongster Justin Grimm (3-3, 4.02 ERA) who has struggled a bit in his last three starts, going 1-2 with a 6.48 ERA against Joe Saunders (3-4, 5.64 ERA) who is lights out in Seattle, posting a career ERA of 1.72 in the Kingdome, and this season he has an ERA of 0.94 in the friendly confines of home. This will be a tough assignment for Justin, because of the way Saunders performs at home. He is a perfect 9-0 there in his career. Of course, before we all freak out and call this game a loss, we must also remember that Saunders is 3-8 with a 6.30 ERA in his career (13 games) against the Rangers. The Rangers are going to need to get the offense going in this one to win the game, and they can’t count on the home run ball because we all know that is rare at the Kingdome.
Saturday the Rangers put Derek Holland (3-2, 3.30 ERA) on the bump to face off against Felix Hernandez (5-3, 2.07 ERA). Can I make a side note here? I have always had a lot of respect for King Felix as a pitcher, but I wish he would learn to wear his hat straight! It bothers me to no end that a professional player cannot wear his hat straight! But I digress. We all know what King Felix can do, and we all know what Holland is capable of. We just have to sit back and watch and hope that the good Derek Holland comes through and wins the game for us, or at least keeps us in it. Saturday should be a very low scoring affair.
Sunday has Nick Tepesch (3-4, 3.98 ERA) going up against Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 2.37 ERA). Tepesch started the season great but has not done a whole lot of late, and he has the blister issue that kept him out of his last start. I hope that he is over that, because Iwakuma is having himself quite a season so far. This could be a tough game for the Rangers to win if Tepesch cannot limit damage early in the ballgame. All in all, it really depends on how the Rangers offense comes through on how well this road series winds up.
With Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre on the tear that they seem to be on right now, and Murphy starting to come around and look more comfortable at the plate, now is the time for this offense to kick it into gear and remind all of us what they are capable of doing. This team can play small ball, look at the speed of guys like Elvis Andrus, Leonys Martin, Craig Gentry and Jurickson Profar. They need to find ways to get it done when the home run ball just is not happening for them, if they cannot find ways to manifacture runs, this could be a very long three game series we are all about to watch.