Mariners-Rangers Preview

Cole Hamels’ tenure with the Texas Rangers has gotten off to a rocky start, something he’s not very proud of considering the bold move the club made to acquire him at the trade deadline.

That hasn’t stopped the Rangers from gaining ground in the playoff race.

Texas looks to win eight in a row at home for the first time in more than four years as Hamels takes the mound against the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

The Rangers (59-57) acquired Hamels in an eight-player trade with Philadelphia on July 31, but they’ve lost both of his starts as the left-hander has allowed nine runs and 16 hits in 13 2-3 innings.

Hamels, 6-8 with a 3.86 ERA in 22 starts this season, was scheduled to pitch Thursday against Minnesota but was scratched because of a groin issue he suffered against Seattle on Aug. 7.

He threw a regular bullpen session Friday.

"It was nice to get on the mound again," Hamels told MLB’s official website. "To have something like this with a new team, it’s not what you want. You want to come in with guns blazing and throwing shutouts like a couple of guys are doing on their new team. I’d like to be doing that, but it is better to be smart."

Hamels has allowed five home runs since the trade after surrendering that amount over his final 17 outings with the Phillies. Three came off the bats of former Ranger Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Mark Trumbo 10 days ago.

Despite Hamels’ struggles, Texas has gone 12-5 in its last 17 and trails Baltimore and Los Angeles in a tight race for the second wild card. Adrian Beltre and Ryan Strausborger homered in a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday, putting the Rangers on the brink of winning five straight for the first time since a season-best seven-game run May 20-26.

Texas is seeking its first eight-game home win streak since taking nine straight July 4-23, 2011, but Seattle (55-63) has won seven of nine meetings this season, including a three-game sweep in Arlington from April 27-29.

Cruz is batting .459 with five home runs, a triple and two doubles against Texas this year. He hit his major league-high 36th homer and Cano added a two-run shot among his five hits in Sunday’s 10-8, 12-inning win over Boston.

Franklin Gutierrez homered twice for the Mariners, who salvaged the series’ final game after the Red Sox outscored them 37-11 in the first two. They’ll send Taijuan Walker (8-7, 4.60 ERA) to the mound in this contest as he looks to continue his solid run.

Walker is 1-0 with a 2.42 ERA over his last three starts after going six innings in Tuesday’s 6-5, 10-inning win over Baltimore. The 23-year-old has been much better since a conversation with then-Detroit starter David Price after a rough outing against the Tigers on July 21.

Price told Walker to throw more breaking pitches rather than just relying on his fastball and changeup.

"Once I started doing that, I am getting a lot more swings and misses on my changeup," Walker said. "I was getting a lot more takes on my fastball. After I showed that I could throw my curveball for strikes, that was another pitch they had to look for."

The right-hander had the Rangers guessing April 27, allowing an unearned run in seven innings of a 3-1 victory in his only career start against them.