Rangers-Mariners Preview

When the reigning AL champion Texas Rangers swept a three-game

series from the Seattle Mariners in early April, it came as no

surprise.

Less than a month later, the AL West rivals appear much more

evenly matched.

Surging Seattle hosts inconsistent Texas on Tuesday night in the

opener of a three-game set.

The Mariners (13-16) started 4-11, seemingly picking up where

they left off after stumbling to a 61-101 record and last-place

finish in 2010. The Rangers, meanwhile, improved to 6-0 after

sweeping Seattle from April 4-6, appearing primed for a run at

consecutive pennants.

Much has changed since. The Rangers (16-13) have dropped six of

eight, and one bad break in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Boston may have

been all that separated Seattle from a 6-0 road trip.

Ichiro Suzuki lost Jed Lowrie’s fly ball in the sun in the ninth

inning, resulting in a triple. Lowrie scored the winning run on a

two-out single by Carl Crawford. Jamey Wright took the loss, ending

a 15-inning scoreless streak for the Mariners’ bullpen.

Manager Eric Wedge didn’t let the defeat dampen his overall

enthusiasm.

“The guys have played some real good baseball,” he said. “I

think the guys are learning what they can do.”

Erik Bedard (1-4, 5.96 ERA) once again will start the series

opener against Texas. The left-hander lost 6-4 on April 4, allowing

five runs – three earned – in five innings in his first start since

2009, due to shoulder surgery.

Bedard finally earned his first win since 2009 on Wednesday,

allowing one run over seven innings of a 10-1 victory at

Detroit.

“There were things that happened with each and every one of his

starts that continued to help him be better and get closer to where

he needed to be,” Wedge told the team’s official website. “That’s

why I felt, with each start prior to this, he was still headed in

the right direction. He really pitched a heck of a ballgame.”

Suzuki has also come on after a slow start, going 16 for 39

(.410) with seven multi-hit games over his last nine. He’ll look to

continue his hot streak against a Texas team which has regressed

since a 9-1 start.

The Rangers dropped three of four in Oakland, including a 5-4

defeat in 10 innings Monday.

“We’re not where we want to be but we’re not going to panic

either,” manager Ron Washington said. “It was real tough. I

thought we played hard, things just didn’t fall into place.”

Michael Young had three RBIs in the loss, giving him 10 in his

last six games. He’s hitting a team-leading .342, but is 5 for 30

in his career against Bedard.

Alexi Ogando (3-0, 2.30) will take the mound Tuesday looking to

help Texas get back on track. He continues to impress, having

lasted at least six innings in all five of his starts and allowing

two runs or fewer in four of them after pitching out of the bullpen

as a rookie in 2010. The right-hander gave up two runs in six

innings Thursday before the Rangers fell 5-2 to Toronto.

Ogando beat Seattle 3-2 on April 5, when he threw six scoreless

innings for his first career win as a starter.

The Rangers took six of nine games in Seattle last season.