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Sat, Sep 15, 2012 - 8:05 PM ET
 

Mariners-Rangers Preview

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Josh Hamilton seems to be just fine, and that's a relief to the Texas Rangers.

Facing the last-place Seattle Mariners again may just keep the five-time All-Star hot at the plate.

Hamilton looks to help the Rangers attempt to create some distance atop the AL West by continuing his success against the Mariners on Saturday night.

After receiving an injection in his sore left knee, Hamilton sat out Thursday's 5-3 loss to Cleveland. The knee didn't seem to be a problem the following day, when he had a double and a homer to help lead Texas (86-58) to a 9-3 victory over Seattle.

The 2010 AL MVP is hitting .333 with seven homers, 23 RBIs and 20 runs in his last 20 home games, and that could very well continue Saturday.

Hamilton is a career .331 hitter with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 39 games against Seattle (69-76) in Arlington. His 18 homers versus the Mariners are his most against any opponent, while his 53 RBIs equals his personal-best production against the Los Angeles Angels.

Though he's just 3 for 18 against Seattle starter Jason Vargas (14-10, 3.85 ERA) the past three seasons, all three hits left the park.

Hamilton leads the majors with 42 homers and 123 RBIs, and having him healthy increases the Rangers' chances at padding their three-game lead on Oakland for first place in the West.

Scott Feldman (6-11, 4.97) surely wouldn't mind seeing another strong performance from Hamilton as he tries to avoid extending his second lengthy losing streak of 2012.

The right-hander is 0-5 with a 5.97 ERA in six games since a win at Kansas City on Aug. 4. He dropped six starts in a row May 14-June 14.

Feldman's most recent outing was a 5-4, 10-inning win at Kansas City on Sept. 6, when he allowed three runs and six hits with six strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.

He's lost four straight starts to the Mariners with a 6.16 ERA, including two this year while surrendering nine runs in nine innings.

The Mariners have dropped five of seven while averaging 2.4 runs and hitting .183 with runners in scoring position. That's been a problem with the rotation compiling a 6.14 ERA in that stretch.

It was the bullpen that was the problem Friday, as three relievers gave up a seven-run eighth inning to Texas.

"These are things that can't happen," manager Eric Wedge said. "When you get steamrolled like that, it should be one (heck) of a wake-up call."

Vargas has pitched well while going seven innings in each of his last two starts in Seattle - he allowed three runs in a 4-2 loss to Oakland on Sunday - and his 2.62 ERA at home ranks among the AL's best.

It's been a different story for Vargas on the road. He has a 4.92 ERA away from Safeco Field, and allowed six runs in each of his last two outings while failing to escape the fifth inning in either.

Twenty-five of the 32 homers he's surrendered have come on the road. No other pitcher has given up more than 19 away from home.

He's split two season meetings with the Rangers - both on the road - while allowing seven runs in 13 1-3 innings. That includes a win opposite Feldman on May 29, when he yielded three runs in 6 2-3 frames.

Texas slugger Adrian Beltre is 0 for 11 against Vargas over the past two seasons.

Tagged: Mariners, Rangers, Josh Hamilton, Jason Vargas, Scott Feldman

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