Mariners-Rangers Preview

Texas Rangers starter Derek Holland’s confidence continues to

soar heading into the postseason.

The left-hander looks for a fifth consecutive victory Sunday

when the AL West champion Rangers try to complete a three-game

sweep of the visiting Seattle Mariners.

After making six postseason relief appearances for Texas in

2010, Holland (15-5, 3.92 ERA) is expected to be a key part of the

Rangers’ playoff rotation this year. He’s allowed a one run on a

solo homer over seven innings in each of his last two starts, and

is 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last five outings. He yielded two

hits and struck out seven Tuesday in a 7-2 victory at Oakland.

Holland, 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts versus Seattle this

season, will try to help the Rangers (92-66) win for the 11th time

in 13 games – both overall and against the Mariners. They’ve also

defeated the Mariners four straight times.

“We want to finish the season strong, keep going, keep the

momentum going for us, too,” Holland told the Rangers’ official

website.

With most of their regular players given the day off following

Friday’s division-clinching 5-3 win, the Rangers got three hits

from infielder Esteban German and two RBIs from David Murphy in a

7-3 victory Saturday.

Though Texas is competing with Detroit for home-field advantage

– and a potential matchup with the wild-card winner instead of the

AL East champion Yankees – in the first round of the playoffs,

manager Ron Washington does not want to wear out his everyday

players before the postseason begins.

“I want to win as many games as I can. But I’m not going to do

it at the expense of getting into the playoffs fatigued,”

Washington said. “We won a division and it wasn’t easy. It was a

grind. And the guys I depended every day were out there every day.

For us to go further, they have to be mentally ready.”

Murphy, one of the Rangers’ regulars, has batted .362 with 23

RBIs in his last 26 games.

The Mariners (66-92) have scored eight runs during a three-game

skid that’s followed a three-game winning streak in which they

totaled 22. Seattle was held to five hits Saturday, committed three

errors and lost ace Felix Hernandez after he was hit on the arm by

a line drive.

“It was one of our worst games, if not the worst,” manager Eric

Wedge said. “I don’t care if you have three games left or 103 games

left, that’s unacceptable.”

Ichiro Suzuki went 0 for 4 to drop his average to a career-low

.272. He’s batting .171 (12 for 70) versus Texas this season and is

5 for 22 lifetime against Holland.

Seattle rookie left-hander Charlie Furbush (4-9, 5.22) takes the

mound after he gave up six runs over five innings but also struck

out eight and snapped a five-game skid in a 12-6 win at Cleveland

on Monday.

Furbush, 3-6 with a 6.23 ERA in nine starts since being acquired

from Detroit at the trade deadline, allowed seven runs and walked

four over four innings of a 9-2 loss at Texas on Aug. 8.