Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
You know things are going your way when a 10th-inning balk lifts your squad to victory.
Thanks to that scenario, the Texas Rangers are now in position to sweep the Seattle Mariners in the final series of 2013 between the clubs. MLB odds suggest the Mariners will avoid Texas' brooms as Seattle is a low-130s favorite behind their ace Felix Hernandez. Martín Perez gets the call for Ron Washington's squad, a 7 run total priced to the UNDER up for consideration by baseball bettors.
Game 2 began as if it would be a high-scoring affair with starting pitchers Derek Holland and Hisashi Iwakuma getting roughed up early with led to a three-all tie after just three innings. But the two hurlers settled down and posted zeroes the rest of the way with the help of their bullpens, Texas finally pushing the winning run across the pay station courtesy of a Danny Farquhar balk in the 10th.
The Rangers, 19-6 over their last 25 contests, stayed 2.5 ahead of Oakland in the American League West, and remained just a half-game behind the Red Sox for the top mark in the AL. Seattle's fifth consecutive loss dropped the M's into fourth place, 17.5 behind Texas.
Perez and Hernandez faced off 11 days ago down in the Lone Star State, the Rangers coasting to an easy 15-3 decision. Hernandez was uncharacteristically wild with a season-high five walks in his five frames, the same number of free passes he allowed all of July, and it was the third time in four tries against the Rangers this year that King Felix was knocked around by their lineup. Seattle has dropped five of his last six assignments.
Texas, meanwhile, has won Perez's last five trips to the mound, including three on the road, and beaten the Mariners in both of his 2013 starts against them.
We could see Safeco Field going topless for the 12:40 PM local start in Seattle where the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and temps in the mid-to-upper 70s. Crew chief Dale Scott is next up in the rotation to call balls and strikes, the 29-year veteran field arbiter bringing a 9-15 O/U mark into the matinee. Scott got off to a very strong UNDER tendency this season, but five of his last eight went past the total.
We often see managers giving starters a game off when there's a quick day contest following a night game, but I don't expect Washington to work the Texas lineup that way today. The Rangers have Thursday off before a weekend series at home vs. Minnesota, and the combination of Hernandez being in a rut plus the Mariners on a slide has me on Texas as a road 'dog for my free pick.
My pick: Rangers +124 at Bet365
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
The Texas Rangers wasted no time in securing a victory in Seattle to guarantee their sixth consecutive season victory over the Mariners. Now they'll go for the series dubya on Tuesday when the squads feature a pitching rematch from 11 days ago in Texas.
Derek Holland and Hisashi Iwakuma confront each other on the mound at Safeco Field tonight (10:10 PM ET), and the Rangers once again play the role of small road favorites according to the latest MLB odds. Texas is carrying a moneyline in the low -120's for Game 2 which also sports a 7 run total that is generally priced to the OVER.
Texas broke open a close affair Monday with late homers to grab the 8-3 triumph. Travis Blackley, in just his second starting assignment of 2013, was efficient in getting through six innings on only 71 pitches, long balls by AJ Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland providing the eventual comfortable margin of victory.
The win was Texas' 10th over the Mariners this season with just two more games left between the clubs, and helped the Rangers maintain a 2.5-game lead at the top of the American League West over the Oakland Athletics. Seattle's loss was its fourth straight.
Holland and Iwakuma hooked up in a fine duel on Aug. 16, a game that would eventually go to the M's by a 3-1 count. Seven innings of 2-hit, shutout baseball went onto Holland's linescore before the bullpen blew the 1-0 lead he left the game with; Iwakuma also worked seven frames and allowed Texas' only run while striking out eight.
It was Holland's third start vs. Seattle this season with the lefty posting an ERA below 1.00 in nearly 20 innings. A lack of offensive support for Holland in those matches has Texas 1-2. Iwakuma will be seeing the Rangers for a fifth time this evening; the Mariners are 3-1 in the previous four assignments with his ERA at 2.60.
A very slight chance of rain is in Seattle's forecast today and tonight -- Isn't there always a chance of rain in Emerald City? -- but it's probably enough to keep the roof shut at Safeco where the first-pitch temp should be 70º with no wind to speak of. CB Bucknor, one of my least favorite umps, is up next for plate duty and brings an 11-14 O/U mark into the clash. His last five dish assignments stayed UNDER the number, including an Aug. 5 contest in Seattle that Iwakuma worked.
The easy pick would seem to be the UNDER, but I'm going to take a shot on the Rangers giving Holland enough runs tonight. Texas as small road chalk will be my free pick.
My pick: Rangers -120 at William Hill
Monday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
A tough stretch of travel didn't start too well for the Texas Rangers this past weekend in Chicago where they dropped two of three to the White Sox. Ron Washington's troops were helped out by the Orioles who took two of three from the A's in Baltimore at the same time, and the Rangers still own a 2.5-game lead in the American League West as they arrive in Seattle for their final series of 2013 vs. the Mariners.
Texas' mini 2-game losing streak is favored to end in Monday's opener. MLB odds went out with the Rangers priced around -130 behind lefthander and former Mariner Travis Blackley, that moneyline inching up a few pennies at most baseball betting shops. Seattle counters with its own southpaw in veteran Joe Saunders, and the original 8 run total has increased half a run.
The Rangers began the trip off a sweep of the Astros last week that saw them outscore Houston 25-11. Their bats were still cooking in the series opener in Chicago, but cooled the next two games to fall by 3-2 and 5-2 counts.This set in Seattle will be followed by three back home against the Twins before Texas has to turn around and head to the West Coast once again for a crucial series in Oakland and then a stop in Anaheim.
Even after the two setbacks to the White Sox, Texas still owns the best road record in the American League at 37-28. That mark was puffed up on a previous trek that saw the Rangers take eight of nine away from home to start August.
Rangers Getting Fifth Look Of 2013 At Saunders
We've reached that point on the schedule when division matchups generally provide plenty of history for the pitchers against their opposition, and that's certainly true in the case of Saunders facing Texas. Monday is his fifth start of the campaign vs. the Rangers, and he saw them frequently when he first came up with the Angels from 2005-10.
There have been more bad outings for Saunders against the Rangers than good, as his 6+ ERA over the years would suggest. Texas beat the M's in three of his four clashes this year, including both times at Safeco Field, Saunders posting a 5.40 ERA while the Rangers hit .316. Saunders has also been in a rut since the all-star break with an ERA up over seven in the seven starts, Seattle 3-4 in that stretch.
Blackley, whose big league debut was for the Mariners way back in 2004, is making his second straight start for the Rangers since coming over in a trade with Houston a couple of weeks ago. He faced the Astros last week in Arlington, lasting four innings on his 66 pitches in Texas' eventual 4-2 triumph. He might be out there for 75-80 tosses this time, so five innings max is all we're looking for. The Rangers' bullpen should be in good shape with less than three innings of work total the past two days in Chicago.
The Mariners saw Blackley three times as a reliever earlier this year while he was in an Astros jersey, the only run they managed in nearly four combined innings a Kendrys Morales homer in an April contest at Houston. His only career start vs. the M's came last June in Seattle for the A's, Blackley hurling seven innings and allowing two runs for a no-decision in an eventual 3-2 Oakland loss.
Series In Seattle Split Evenly Last Two Years
Texas has a 9-7 edge this year and can wrap up a sixth straight season series win over the Mariners with just one victory. But after taking two of three in Texas nearly two weeks ago, the Mariners have won five of the last seven and held their own in Seattle the past two years with an 8-8 mark.
Three of the first four at Safeco Field back in April stayed UNDER, but two of the three in May hopped OVER the scoreboard barrier.
A 30% chance of showers this evening in Seattle probably means the roof at Safeco Field will be closed. Bettors will want to check the forecast again before going to the window closer to game time when temps in the upper-60s and an 8-10 SW wind (out to center) is predicted.
My pick: Rangers-Mariners Over 8.5 (-110)