Mariners-Rangers Preview

It’s no surprise that Felix Hernandez has been dominant in his

recent outings for the Seattle Mariners, but Martin Perez’s equally

hot stretch for the Texas Rangers is a bit more unexpected.

Hernandez looks to avoid a third loss this season to the AL West

leaders as he opposes Perez on Saturday night in Arlington.

Seattle’s ace improved to 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA over his last nine

starts after allowing four hits and striking out nine in eight

innings of Sunday’s 2-0 win over Milwaukee. He’s given up two runs

or fewer eight times in that span, but he’s also tossed at least

101 pitches an equal amount.

Rather than attempt to earn his 10th career shutout, Hernandez

(12-5, 2.28 ERA) decided to shut it down.

”I’m just being honest. I didn’t want to go out there, tired

and lose the game,” Hernandez said.

The right-hander, who leads the AL in ERA and is fourth in the

majors with 178 strikeouts, gave up solo homers to Ian Kinsler and

David Murphy but also struck out seven in seven innings of a 4-2

win over Texas on July 3.

Hernandez didn’t pitch as well against the Rangers (70-52) the

first two times he faced them this season, though, allowing four

runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3 loss April 11 before allowing five

in 5 2-3 frames of a 5-2 defeat May 25.

Despite last month’s solid performance there, Hernandez is just

5-8 with a 4.23 ERA in 17 career starts in Arlington, where the

Mariners won Friday’s series opener 3-1.

Kyle Seager, who had been hitless in his previous 21 at-bats,

hit a two-run homer in the eighth before Justin Smoak’s

ninth-inning solo shot as Seattle (56-65) beat the Rangers for the

fourth time in five meetings.

”The thing about him, you would never know it, the way he

handles it, carries himself whether he’s 10 for 20 or 0 for 21,”

acting manager Robby Thompson said. “That’s the sign of a pro right

there. He’s a battler, that’s why he’s in there in the third


Seager is hitting .500 during a 12-game hitting streak at

Rangers Ballpark, which he’ll look to extend against Perez in this


Perez (5-3, 3.44) is coming off the best start of his career,

giving up one run on a homer in the ninth in a four-hitter to beat

Houston 6-1 on Sunday. He’s 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA over his last three


“When I go to the mound I think, `I’m the best here, and I have

the ball,”’ Perez said. ”I just want to throw.”

Manager Ron Washington has been impressed with the 22-year-old

left-hander, who was called up for good June 22.

“He has good mechanics,” Washington said. “I think when he gets

erratic, it’s only because he tries to do too much. As long as he

stays throwing the ball through the catcher and spots his fastball

down in the zone the way he’s capable of doing, he’ll be


Perez gave up an unearned run and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings

July 4 before the Rangers rallied for a 5-2 victory over the

Mariners, who held Texas to four hits Friday.

Former Mariner Adrian Beltre had two, and he’s hitting .457 over

his last 13. Texas, which holds a one-half game lead over Oakland

in the West, has dropped two of three following a season-best

eight-game winning streak.

Beltre is hitting .438 during an eight-game hitting streak

against his former team.