Injury-plagued Rangers and Mariners conclude three-game series

SEATTLE — The Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners are besieged by injuries and the AL West teams will try to piece together enough healthy bodies for the finale of a three-game series Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.

The Rangers and Mariners have gone from probable contenders to sub-.500 underachievers over the first six weeks, due in large part to health issues.

Texas (13-18) got off to a horrific start while third baseman Adrian Beltre has been nursing a sore calf and reliever Jake Diekman has been recovering from surgery, then left-handed starter Cole Hamels landed on the disabled list last week with an oblique injury that will cost him eight weeks.

Seattle lost leading hitter Mitch Haniger late last month, but most of the havoc has been wreaked on the team’s starting rotation. Ace Felix Hernandez, veteran trade addition Drew Smyly and emerging young lefty James Paxton are all on the disabled list.

If those injuries are bad enough for the Mariners, reports surfaced a sore knee might put veteran Hisashi Iwakuma’s next start in doubt.

What’s left is a roster filled with generally unproven pitchers, with Chase De Jong making his second start and throwing six solid innings in an 8-2 rout. Sunday’s scheduled starter Dillon Overton has an equally thin resume, having started just five times in his career; he has a 10.97 ERA to show for it.

Overton is scheduled to make his first start with the Mariners (14-17) — and his first ever against the Rangers — after playing with the Oakland Athletics last season. His Sunday start wasn’t official until late Saturday night, when De Jong’s six-inning start helped assure that Overton would not be needed out of the bullpen.

“With everything that has gone here the last few days, it literally is day-to-day and inning-by-inning with this,” manager Scott Servais said.

Saturday’s news concerning Iwakuma was the latest blow to a rotation that can’t afford to lose another starter. He’s still being listed as Tuesday’s probable starter for a game in Philadelphia, but a sore knee has left his status up in the air.

Despite the massive injuries, Seattle is playing respectable of late. Since a 19-9 loss in Detroit on April 25, the Mariners are 6-4 and have scored eight runs in four of those victories.

The Mariners evened the series with a seven-run seventh inning.

Texas has a bit more stability in its rotation, with Andrew Cashner scheduled to be on the mound Sunday. Cashner (0-3, 2.95 ERA) is looking for his first win of the season, and the Rangers are going to need more out of him if they’re to overcome the Hamels injury. Cashner is 0-3 with a 4.05 ERA in five games (four starts) in his career vs. the Mariners.

Hamels could miss up to two months, and before Saturday’s game he told reporters that he is not going to rush back into action.

“I just want to make sure it’s right,” Hamel said, according to the team’s website. “I don’t want to come back too quickly because I’m too anxious. I want to be 100 percent so they know what to expect of me.”

Cashner has done his part but when he has pitched, the Rangers have scored four times in his starts.

In his last start, Cashner allowed three runs and three hits in six innings of a 6-2 loss at Houston on Monday. He took a 5-0 loss in Seattle on April 15, when he allowed four runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.