Rangers vs. Mariners Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Felix Hernandez dominated the Rangers for four innings Saturday night, and it appeared the Seattle Mariners ace would break a long dry spell with a win over Texas. But then came a fateful fifth inning, and Seattle relievers couldn't hold off the Rangers in an eventual 6-3 Texas triumph to even the series.
The AL West rivals now decide things Sunday afternoon (4:10 PM ET) at Safeco Field where the Rangers aim for their second series win over the M's this season. Texas welcomes another hurler back from a long DL stint as Matt Harrison heads to the bump, while the Mariners counter with Brandon Maurer.
Sunday's finale is a pick' em at several shops listed on SBR's live MLB odds, a 7.5 run total priced 20¢ to the low side.
Harrison Set For 1st MLB Start Since April '13
It has been about 55 weeks since Harrison was on a big league mound. The southpaw was Texas' starter in the MLB season opener last year in Houston, and got belted around in a huge upset, one of only two wins the Astros managed over the Rangers in 19 games on the 2013 schedule. Harrison made just one more start about a week later, and has been recovering from back surgery in the meantime.
He made three minor league starts to prepare for this game and passed those tests with flying colors, posting a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings against Double-A batters.
Harrison didn't face the Mariners in '13, but saw them nine times the previous two seasons, winning eight of those starts. He's 4-1 with a 0.98 ERA in five starts and two relief appearances at Safeco Field.
M's Seek First Home
Series Win Vs. Texas
Called up a week ago to fill the fifth slot in Seattle's rotation while James Paxton is on the DL, Maurer is making his second start of 2014. The 6-5 righthander worked into the fifth last Sunday in Miami, allowing just one run while striking out four on 63 pitches. Look for 75 tosses to be his max in this outing after working mostly as a reliever in Triple-A earlier this month.
A former 23-rd pick in 2008, Maurer enjoyed a pretty successful climb through the Mariners farm system before a big spring last year put him in their rotation to begin the season. He saw the Rangers twice as a starter and once as a reliever in 2013, splitting his decisions in the starting role and compiling a 3.78 ERA in 16.2 innings.
Harrison also shouldn't be long for this game, five innings or 75 pitches, whichever comes first. Ron Washington used both Neal Cotts and Alexi Ogando in the first two games of this set, so Texas could be working with a short 'pen today. I kinda' like the bats on both sides to get just enough runs to send this one past the total, and will be adding the 'over' to my list of free MLB picks for Sunday.
My Pick: Rangers-Mariners Over 7.5 (+110)
Season: 23-26 (-4.0)
Rangers vs. Mariners Game 2
By: Willie Bee
Ron Washington has enjoyed a fairly strong bullpen the last few seasons in Texas, but Rangers relievers were off their game Friday night in the opener of a 3-game set against the Seattle Mariners. The result was a Seattle victory that dropped the Rangers out of the lead in the AL West.
Texas is now faced with trying to even the series against one of the game's top hurlers as Felix Hernandez gets the start for Seattle in a 9:10 PM (ET) contest Saturday. The Rangers counter with Colby Lewis.
SBR's live baseball odds show the Mariners to be pronounced favorites around -175 for Game 2. Scoreboard bettors are looking at a 7 run total priced 20¢ or so to the 'under.'
Late Wildness Costs
Rangers In Game 1
Wild pitches and hit batsmen proved the difference in Game 1. In all, five batters took one for their team and the fourth wild pitch of the matchup plated the eventual winning run for the Mariners.
Lewis is making his third start of the season -- also just his third since midway through the 2012 campaign -- and his second vs. the Mariners. His season debut came at home on April 14 against Seattle, and it turned out to be the only game the M's won in that series as Lewis pitched into the sixth allowing four runs in a 7-1 setback.
The beefy righthander followed that up with a winning performance last weekend against the White Sox, surrendering just one run in 5.1 innings to help Texas to a 6-3 triumph. That marked his first dubya since June 2012 when he dominated the woeful Astros.
King Felix Looks To
Break Winless Streak vs. Texas
The last time Hernandez recorded a win over the Rangers was July 14, 2012 when he blanked them on three hits to get the better of then-rookie Yu Darvish. The Venezuelan has faced Texas six times since then, five of those assignments going into Seattle's loss column and King Felix getting a no-decision in the only game the Mariners won.
Hernandez began 2014 with three straight wins, but the M's have since dropped his last two starts. One of those was at Texas on April 16, a game in which Hernandez left with a 2-zip lead only to see the Rangers rally for a 3-2 walk-off victory. His defense let him down Monday vs. the Astros, four of the six runs he allowed in the 7-2 loss filed under the unearned heading.
Mike Estabrook is scheduled to work the plate in this one, and we'll see if the 5 HBP's from Friday carry over to possibly lead to some early-warning regarding inside pitches. Estabrook has a good-sized strike zone, with totals split 2-2 O/U so far.
Hernandez has had some bad luck against Texas, pitching well enough to have beaten them at times only to remain in a rut. I'm going to follow that rut with my free MLB pick on the Rangers.
My Pick: Rangers +160
Rangers vs. Mariners Game 1
By: Willie Bee
After inking the winter's biggest free agent bat, Robinson Cano, Seattle was something of a chic pick on MLB futures odds earlier this year. The Mariners began spring training as 7:1 choices to upset the status quo in the AL West -- 14:1 to win their first AL pennant -- and with roughly 140 games left in the regular season, they may prove profitable for those who back them with wagers.
Now would be a good time to start turning things around, however, if those dreams are to be realized. Mired in a slump, the Mariners can make a big statement this weekend when they host the division-leading Texas Rangers.
The series begins Friday night in Seattle (10:10 PM ET) with a matchup of young lefties as Robbie Ross leads things off for Texas' rotation against Roenis Elias of the Mariners. It might not be a marquee matchup on the mound, but the MLB oddsmakers think it should still be a good one with a 7.5 run total that strongly favors the 'under' and Texas very slight chalk, at least one sports book calling it a pick 'em.
Both squads enjoyed a day off Thursday to prepare for this series, their second meeting of 2014 and first in the Pacific Northwest. The Rangers took three of the four games played in Texas a little less than two weeks ago, and have come out on top in 16 of the last 24 matchups.
Ron Washington's troops also won seven of 10 played at Safeco Field in 2013, and are 61-69 at the park since it opened midway through the '99 campaign. Four of the final six played on this diamond a year ago went 'over' the total, the other two pushing the closing numbers.
Red-Hot Rangers Hit Seattle Off Sweep In Oakland
Texas (14-8, +5.9 units) has certainly enjoyed this quick West Coast swing that began in Oakland earlier this week. The Rangers won all three against the A's, culminating in Martin Perez's 3-hit gem Wednesday, and have gone from a game below .500 on April 14 to the best record in the American League by winning eight of nine.
Washington and GM Jon Daniels were hoping the squad could just stay afloat in April after starting the season with a depleted rotation and seeing star 3B Adrian Beltre hit the DL early with a quad injury. The pitching staff is getting healthy with the return of Colby Lewis a little more than a week ago, and Matt Harrison due back and scheduled to start the series finale in Seattle on Sunday.
Ross is seeing the Mariners for a second time in 2014, beating them with 7.2 shutout innings in Texas on April 15. He coaxed 20 groundballs from the 30 hitters he faced that evening, so we should know early if he's on his A-game in this appearance.
M's Stop 8-Game Slide With Walk-Off Win Vs. Houston
Seattle (8-13, -6.2 units) averted a disastrous start to this homestand Wednesday when Kyle Seager clubbed a pair of homers, the second of the walk-off variety, to beat the Astros and halt an 8-game losing streak. That skid started in Texas a couple of weeks back and continued with a broom job at the hands of the Marlins in Miami before dropping the first two to Houston. The lineup produced just 18 runs in the stretch, getting blanked twice along the way.
Elias got the dubya in the only game the Mariners won in Texas during the previous series, but Seattle has dropped his other three starts. The Cuban rookie followed that with control issues in Miami last weekend, walking five Fish and surrendering eight hits in a 7-0 setback.
Expect the roof at Safeco to be closed all weekend with a 30%-60% chance of rain all three days and temps never making it out of the 50s. It's hard not to like the Rangers the way they're playing, so I'm adding Texas to my free baseball picks list for Friday.
My pick: Rangers -110
Season: 21-24 (-4.45)