Mariners-Rangers Preview

The Texas Rangers’ 2010 AL West title was more than a decade in

the making. That likely made Friday’s two-hour wait to see if they

would win another one much more bearable.

Playing less than 24 hours after clinching the West, Texas

continues its push for home-field advantage in the AL division

series on Saturday when it faces the Seattle Mariners.

After winning its first West title in 11 years last season

before advancing to the franchise’s first World Series, Texas

(91-66) celebrated another division championship Friday night in


The Rangers’ 5-3 series-opening victory over the Mariners

(66-91) trimmed their magic number to one, and they had to watch

from the clubhouse as the second-place Los Angeles Angels lost 3-1

to Oakland to officially end the West race.

Texas has secured back-to-back division crowns for the first

time since 1998-99.

“It’s great. Now we have the opportunity to win a World

Series,” veteran infielder Michael Young said. “It’s been

incredible so far. We’re looking forward to the next step.”

That next step is locking up home-field advantage in the opening

round. The Rangers are tied with Detroit for the league’s

second-best record, but by virtue of losing the season series to

the Central champs, Texas will have to finish with a better record

to avoid starting on the road for the second straight


Facing 2010 AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez (14-13, 3.32 ERA)

on Saturday in a quick turnaround could be a tall order for the


The Mariners right-hander, though, is 0-3 with a 3.74 ERA in

three starts against Texas in 2011 after allowing three runs in

seven innings of Sunday’s 3-0 home loss. Hernandez, 10-15 with a

3.87 ERA in 31 career starts in this matchup, doesn’t have

double-digit losses against any other team.

“They’re dangerous,” he told the Mariners’ official website. “If

you throw quality pitches, you can get them out. If you make a

mistake, you’re going to pay.”

Hernandez’s former teammate and good friend Adrian Beltre has

been doing that to a lot of pitchers lately. The Rangers third

baseman, who hit a two-run shot off Hernandez at Safeco Field on

Sunday, has homered nine times in the last 12 games after hitting

his 29th of the season Friday.

Josh Hamilton when deep for the 25th time in the series opener

and is batting .381 (16 for 42) with six homers and 12 RBIs in his

last 10 contests.

While manager Ron Washington said he would start to give his

regulars some rest as the team prepares for the postseason,

Saturday’s scheduled starter Alexi Ogando (13-8, 3.58) faces an

important outing as the team hasn’t announced how he will be used

in the playoffs.

The right-hander opened the year 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA and was

named an All-Star for the first time, but he hit a rough patch,

going 0-3 with a 6.41 ERA in five appearances prior to throwing six

innings of shutout ball in a 7-4 home win over Cleveland on Sept.


Washington said after the game that he nearly pulled Ogando in

the second inning before he escaped a bases-loaded jam.

Ogando is 1-0 with a 4.30 ERA in three starts in this divisional

matchup in 2011.

The Rangers, winners of five straight at home, are 6-1 against

Seattle in Arlington this season.