Rangers-Mariners Preview

Five starts into his major league career, Seattle Mariners

right-hander Michael Pineda is already being called one of the top

pitchers in the AL. The 6-foot-7 rookie, though, wasn’t able to

beat the Texas Rangers in his debut last month.

A day after being named the AL rookie of the month for April,

Pineda looks to win his fifth consecutive start Wednesday night as

the surging Mariners try to win their second straight over the

Rangers.

With a chance to pass Freddy Garcia (1999) for the most

victories in April by a Mariners rookie, Pineda (4-1, 2.01 ERA)

struck out a season-high nine – including the first four he faced –

and won his fourth straight start Thursday in a 7-2 victory at

Detroit.

The 22-year-old Pineda has gone at least six innings in each

start, holding opponents to a .198 average.

“He’s unbelievable,” said Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo. “He’s

one of the top pitchers in the league right now.”

While manager Eric Wedge praised his poise and said the team

“couldn’t have asked for a better outing,” Pineda lost his major

league debut April 5, giving up five hits – four for extra bases –

and three runs in six innings of a 3-2 defeat in Arlington.

Pineda should enter this contest with more confidence as he

tries to help Seattle (14-16) win for the seventh time in eight

games. The Mariners scored three times in their final two at-bats

and snapped a four-game skid to Texas (16-14) with Tuesday’s 4-3

series-opening victory.

“We always feel like we’re in it,” said first baseman Justin

Smoak, a former Ranger who drove in two runs and had a season-high

three hits to improve his home batting average to .357.

Designated hitter Jack Cust, who had the go-ahead RBI single in

the eighth inning Tuesday, is one of the reasons the Mariners feel

that way. He has four RBIs in his last five games, with each coming

in the sixth inning or later.

Cust is 5 for 11 against Wednesday’s scheduled starter C.J.

Wilson (3-1, 3.35).

The Rangers, losers of a season-high three in a row and seven of

nine, will look for a solid outing from the left-hander, who

couldn’t win his third straight start Friday after giving up three

runs and nine hits in seven innings of a 3-1 loss at Oakland.

Texas, tied with the Los Angeles Angels atop the AL West, had no

extra-base hits and committed two errors.

“I thought (Wilson) did a great job, we just couldn’t support

him,” manager Ron Washington told the Rangers’ official

website.

Wilson improved to 2-2 in seven starts against Seattle by

pitching seven innings in a 7-3 home win April 6.

Mariners left fielder Milton Bradley, 2 for 10 against Wilson,

could return to the lineup Wednesday after serving a one-game

suspension for getting ejected from Saturday’s 2-0 win in Boston.

Bradley had career highs with 22 homers and 77 RBIs in his only

season with Texas in 2008.

Texas’ Michael Young will try to extend his career-high RBI

streak to eight games after delivering a run-scoring single in the

series opener. Young, batting .353 during an eight-game hitting

streak against Seattle, had an RBI double off Pineda last

month.

Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, tied with Adrian Beltre with a

team-high seven home runs, is not expected to play Wednesday after

leaving the series opener with a tight right quadriceps.