Texas Rangers: On Deck-Seattle Mariners

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Jun 13, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (12) celebrates with Texas Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar (19) after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (12) celebrates with Texas Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar (19) after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /
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Despite dropping their last game to Houston, the Texas Rangers are coming off a successful six-game road trip. They look to start another win streak as they return home to take on the Seattle Mariners.

The Texas Rangers looked like they were rolling before the Astros rocked them in the final game of their series. Prior to that night, or more accurately the sixth inning of that night, the Rangers had looked dominant as they won five straight against the two best teams in the majors.

The key to those five victories? Pitching. They only allowed three runs in just one of those games and just one in two of the others. That was against the two most prolific offenses in the game right now.

Their bullpen has proven that they have the capability to be one of the best in the league, particularly if Jose Leclerc, Austin Bibens-Dirkx or Matt Bush gets the call. And the starting rotation has been good all year, but they seem to have stepped up their game recently. That might have to do with the fact that Tyson Ross is finally going to be added to the rotation on Friday and Cole Hamels will be back soon as well. He will be making his first rehab start Friday night.

After a rough start when they lost nearly their entire starting rotation, the Mariners have been playing better lately. They’ve won 12 of their last 18 games, though five of those losses have come in the past eight days.

Both of these teams are trying to get over .500 in this series and they’re vying for the second place spot in the division along with the Angels. Currently, the Rangers are sitting at third and are 12 games back (the second place Angels are 11.5 back) while the Mariners are in fourth and 12.5 games back.

Here’s how the series looks to play out:

Friday, June 16 (Ross vs. Paxton)

Tyson Ross is finally set to pitch in a major league game. It will be his first start in over a year since April 4, 2016 when he was still pitching for the San Diego Padres. Ross has been a good pitcher in the past, particularly in 2014 and 2015, though his win record doesn’t necessarily reflect that. However, that has far more to do with the lackluster abilities of the Padres than his own.

In 2014, he was elected to the All-Star game though his record for the year was 13-14. It was his first year as a full-time starter and he finished the year with an ERA of 2.81 in just under 196 innings. He tossed two complete games, including a shutout that year. 2015 wasn’t quite as good of a year for him, but it was still solid. He went 10-12 with a 3.26 ERA. Ross did strike out over 200 batters on the year though, the first time he’d ever done that. He was injured in the very first game of the 2016 season and hasn’t faced major leaguers since so Friday will be his big test.

And it will be a tough assignment as James Paxton will be taking the mound for the Mariners. Paxton has without question been the team’s ace, going 5-1 on the year so far with just a 2.25 ERA while sporting a 10.0 K/9. And his best game came against the Rangers.

Back on April 15, Paxton threw eight shutout innings while facing the Rangers, allowing just two hits and mowing down a season-high nine of them. The Rangers simply could not find an answer for him. And the problem is, not many teams have.

Paxton has pitched in nine games so far this year. In five of them, he hasn’t allowed a single run. In seven of them, he’s given up just five hits or less.

Prediction: James Paxton pitches well again, though the Rangers do put up a little more resistance this time around. Tyson Ross is a little shaky in his first game back and the Mariners take advantage of it, grabbing the victory.

Saturday, June 17 (Perez vs. Gallardo)

Martin Perez looked good in his last start. He did give up a pair of runs but it was the Nationals, and Tony Barnette was actually pitching when the runs scored. What’s been most impressive though is his ability to work out of his self-inflicted jams.

In the fifth inning of that Nationals game, Perez had the bases loaded and no outs. He got Jose Lobaton to pop up in foul territory along the first base line only to see it drop. Rather than let that get to him, he got him to fly out to shallow right on the next pitch. He then struck out Gio Gonzalez before ending the inning by getting Trea Turner to fly out to left. Hopefully, Perez pitches the way he did in Washington on Saturday.

Yovani Gallardo will be starting the game for the Mariners. Gallardo has not had a very good year, going 3-6 with an ERA of 6.11. He’s allowed at least one run in every start he’s had this year and has been susceptible to the long ball, getting taken deep nine times so far.

The last time he faced the Rangers he pitched pretty well, giving up just one run on four hits. The Rangers were still able to win the game however as the Mariners’ bullpen couldn’t help Gallardo out.

Prediction: The Rangers win as Martin Perez has another good outing at home and the offense puts up some big numbers on both Gallardo and the bullpen. The Rangers bullpen shuts the Mariners down.

Sunday, June 18 (Bergman vs. Darvish)

Yu Darvish had one of his best performances of the year in his last start against the Houston Astros. It wasn’t a typical Darvish masterpiece where he piled up the strikeouts (he had just four on the night), but he tossed seven innings of one-hit ball and allowed just one run.

Darvish pitched the last time these two teams faced off and while it wasn’t his best start, it was enough to get the job done as they won 3-1. The one run came off a solo shot by Robinson Cano in the fourth. He walked a season-high four batters in that game, gave up six hits and struck out just five and still was able to get the win. I imagine he will have a much better game than last time so the Mariners should not feel confident.

Christian Bergman will toe the rubber across from Darvish on Sunday. Bergman has had a little bit better season than Gallardo but it hasn’t been great. He’s 3-4 with a 5.75 ERA on the season and just 29 strikeouts.

Bergman faced the Rangers earlier this season but it was in long relief. He threw 3.2 innings and allowed just one run on one hit.

Prediction: Darvish builds upon his last start and dominates the Mariners, going deep into the game. Bergman and the Mariners bullpen can’t stop a surging Rangers offense so the Rangers goes on to win.

Common Opponents

Rangers: Houston (3-7); Angels (3-3); Cleveland (0-3); Toronto (1-2); Detroit (2-1); Oakland (1-3); Nationals (3-0); Twins (1-2); Rays (1-2); Phillies (3-0); Boston (0-3)

Mariners: Houston (2-5); Angels (2-4); Cleveland (1-2); Toronto (0-4); Detroit (1-2); Oakland (3-4); Nationals (1-2); Twins (4-3); Rays (3-0); Phillies (2-0); Boston (1-2)

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