Rangers-Mariners Preview

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington watched as his club

struggled offensively while suffering its first back-to-back losses

in nearly a month.

Though hitting has been a season-long problem for the Seattle

Mariners, they’ve done enough to give the AL West leaders fits

lately.

The Rangers look to get back on track Monday night in the opener

of a three-game road set with struggling Seattle, which has won

five of the last seven meetings.

Texas (75-55) averaged 9.0 runs while winning five of six, but

it went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position while dropping

the final two of its three-game series with the Chicago White Sox

over the weekend.

Jeff Baker’s two-run homer was all it could muster in Sunday’s

5-2 defeat, and the Rangers will look to bounce back against a

Mariners team that took two of three when these clubs met Aug.

16-18.

Texas, which hadn’t lost consecutive games since a four-game

skid from July 25-28 prior to Sunday, won seven of the first nine

matchups this season, but Seattle has gotten the better of the

recent meetings.

“More like a pain in my side,” said Washington, whose club leads

Oakland by 2 1/2 games atop the West. “They’ve always played us

tough. Not just this year, they’ve always played us tough. It’s

just one team that plays us tough and they’ve got pitching to go

along with that.”

Seattle won the most recent meeting 4-3 as Kyle Seager hit a

tiebreaking double in the top of the ninth. He’s hitting .409 with

four homers and 11 doubles versus Texas.

“You throw balls in the dirt, he hits them,” Washington told the

team’s official website. “You throw them over his head, he hits

them. I might have to walk him.”

Seager, though, is just 2 for 23 with eight strikeouts over his

last six after going 0 for 4 in Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the Los

Angeles Angels. The Mariners (59-70) were outscored 14-2 during the

three-game sweep, giving manager Eric Wedge a rude welcome

back.

“Not a great re-entry for myself here,” Wedge said.

Seattle’s .242 team average ranks 13th in the AL, and it will

face Rangers starter Travis Blackley on Monday as he makes his

second start of the season.

Blackley (1-1, 4.85 ERA), acquired from Houston on Aug. 14, made

his first start Tuesday after 42 relief appearances with the

Astros. He gave up two runs and three hits in four innings of a 4-2

win over Houston.

The left-hander was called up from Triple-A to replace Alexi

Ogando, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder

inflammation.

“He did a good job,” Washington said. “He did what he needed to

do, keep us in the game.”

Blackley, who began his major league career with Seattle in

2004, has a 1.98 ERA in one start and four relief appearances

against his former team, which counters with Joe Saunders.

Saunders (10-12, 4.91) has struggled over the last month, going

1-4 with a 7.42 ERA in six starts while allowing 65 baserunners in

30 1-3 innings. He allowed four runs, 10 hits and three walks in

six innings of Seattle’s 7-4 win over Oakland on Tuesday.

The left-hander is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts against

Texas this season, though he gave up two runs – one earned – in 6

2-3 innings of a 9-2 win July 2. He went 0-6 with an 8.91 ERA in

his previous seven outings versus the Rangers.