As they have been for the entire series, the Rangers are decided underdogs on the MLB odds as they go for a sweep this afternoon in Seattle against the Mariners.
Rangers vs. Mariners Game 3
By: Willie Bee
The losses keep piling up on this homestand for the Mariners, Saturday's 4-3 setback the second straight in their series with the Texas Rangers and fifth in a row since returning to Seattle earlier this week.
Texas plated the game-winner in the ninth inning for the second consecutive night, beating Seattle closer Fernando Rodney one game after defeating Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. The victory was the third straight for the Rangers who now sit tied for third with the Mariners in the AL West, both teams a level 34-34.
Seattle will try to avoid a second straight broom job on their own diamond in Sunday's finale. The Mariners are -180 to -190 favorites to do just that with Hisashi Iwakuma taking the hill for the 4:10 PM (ET) start. The Rangers counter with Nick Martinez and SBR's live MLB odds show a 7.5 run total that is priced to the 'under.'
Iwakuma Aims For 2nd Win Of Season Vs. Texas
Once again, Texas begins a game in this series with a huge disadvantage on the mound as Martinez makes his sixth consecutive start in the Rangers rotation and eighth of the season. The former Fordham Ram has lost his first two starts in June after getting clobbered Monday at home by the Indians, the Tribe plating eight in Martinez's brief 2-inning appearance, his second straight serving up a pair of long balls.
While Martinez prepares to face the Mariners for the first time, Iwakuma is seeing Texas for the second time this season and 10th as a starter since coming to the big leagues in 2012. The 33-year-old beat the Rangers in Arlington just about four weeks ago, tossing eight innings and allowing only two runs in a 6-2 M's victory.
Iwakuma has been solid over his short career at Safeco Field, but that isn't translating into wins for the Mariners this season. He owns a 2.75 ERA in Seattle over about 225 innings, slightly higher this year at 2.97 though Seattle is 1-4 when he pitches at home.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
With two 'over' winners his last two games calling balls and strikes, Phil Cuzzi sits a level 7-7 (O/U) on the 2014 campaign while home favorites are a bankroll-burning 2-8. Sunday will be his first look at either the Rangers or Mariners this season, and his last five plate assignments in Seattle failed to reach total.
There's a 50% chance of rain in Seattle's afternoon forecast, so expect the issue with the roof Safeco Field to be a game-time decision. If it does remain open for the contest, temps in the low-60s and a light breeze out to right are the conditions the game will be played in.
Texas is a tempting play in this one with the Mariners struggling, but I'm going to make my free MLB pick on the low side of the total instead.
My pick: Rangers-Mariners Under 7.5
Season: x64-62 (+1.90)
Rangers vs. Mariners Game 2
By: Willie Bee
That great philosopher Mark Knopfler once noted, "Sometimes you're the windshield. Sometimes you're the bug." Right now, Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is feeling like a bug after another tough loss to the windshield, in this case, the Texas Rangers.
Hernandez put forth a solid effort against Texas once again, but it wasn't enough as Rangers hurlers were even better in Friday's 1-0 decision to begin the weekend in Seattle. It was the fourth loss in as many games on this homestand for the Mariners who will try and stay above .500 while leveling the set with Texas on Saturday.
Game 2 is set for a 10:10 PM (ET) first pitch from Seattle's Erasmo Ramirez, the Mariners priced as small -120 favorites in the final contest on Saturday's MLB betting board. Joe Saunders is up next in the Rangers rotation with SBR's live baseball odds showing 7.5 and 8 run totals.
Saunders Facing Former Teammates, Ramirez Looking To Stop Skid
With Saunders following Tepesch, plus Nick Martinez starting Sunday for Texas, it gives us a real good idea just how injuries have decimated Ron Washington's rotation. The veteran lefty has so far managed to pitch to a 3.60 ERA in four starts, but there's been an awful lot of traffic on the bases and the bottom line is Texas has lost three of the contests to leave baseball bettors 2.3 units in the red.
Saunders has plenty of experience vs. the Mariners dating back to his days in the Angels rotation, and he spent 2013 pitching for Seattle where he posted an ERA just below 5.00 in 13 starts at Safeco. The southpaw will be seeing a lefty-dominated M's lineup, but as long as they don't over-swing, Seattle's batting order should have scoring opportunities.
Ramirez got his 2014 season started with a win at the Angels, but hasn't tasted victory since. The Mariners won his last two starts, but the Nicaraguan pitched poorly in one of them only to have his offense bail him out, and couldn't get through the fifth on Monday in Tampa Bay to earn the decision in a 3-0 Seattle victory. The Rangers teed off on Ramirez in Texas earlier this year, chasing the righthander after just six outs having already scored five times.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Alfonso Marquez missed the first couple of months due to a concussion, and is scheduled to work just his third game behind the dish on Saturday. Both of his previous plate assignments -- 6.5 and 8.5 totals -- stayed 'under' while three of his last four games in Seattle hopped 'over' the marks.
Rain held off Friday to keep the roof open at Safeco Field, and it's likely to be a game-time decision again on Saturday. There's only a slight chance of rain in the early evening forecast when the thermometer should be in the low-60s for first pitch with a light crosswind (3B to 1B).
Nothing from Friday's game would make you think about a lot of scoring on Saturday, but that's what I'm seeing. My free pick will be on the high side of the total.
My pick: Rangers-Mariners Over 7.5 (-105)
Season: 63-61 (+1.90)
Rangers vs. Mariners Game 1
By: Willie Bee
As if playing on Friday the 13th isn't unlucky enough, the Texas Rangers draw the ace of the Mariners staff when they open a 3-game weekend series in Seattle. Then again, considering some of the Felix Hernandez's bad luck in the past against Texas, maybe he's the one who should be breaking out 4-leaf clovers and a rabbit's foot.
Baseball bettors who decide to back Hernandez and the Mariners might also want to employ their lucky charms in the series opener, set for a 10:10 PM (ET) start at Safeco Field. Seattle backers will be laying around $2.00 in the contest, the take-back on Texas +180 or so with Nick Tepesch on the hill.SBR's live MLB odds currently show 7 for the total, and it's priced 25¢ to the 'under' meaning we could see this number drop to 6.5 by game time.
Will The 'Over' Sweep Another Series In Seattle?
Texas (32-34, -2.7 units, 34-27-5 O/U/P) just wrapped up a bad homestand that saw the Rangers win just three of nine games at Globe Life Park. Yu Darvish sent the team away from home with a win, tossing the first complete game of his career with a 6-0 blanking of the Marlins on Wednesday. Stops in Oakland and Anaheim follow this weekend series against the Mariners. A 7-1 start to June for Seattle (34-32, +3.5 units, 30-33-3 O/U/P) took a hit the last three days when the Yankees broomed the Mariners. The 3-game sweep dropped the M's to 14-18 on their home diamond this season, and they begin the series third in the AL West, six games south of Oakland.
This weekend marks the second set between the clubs in Seattle in 2014, and fourth meeting overall for the division rivals. The Rangers hold a slight 5-4 advantage in the previous nine games, the Mariners taking two of three played at Safeco Field about seven weeks ago when the entire series went 'over' the total. In the two series played in Texas, the Rangers went 4-2 with the 'under' cashing five times in those half-dozen matchups.
King Felix Looks To Break Drought Against Texas
No team has been hit harder by injuries than the Rangers, their long DL list including three lefthanders who figured prominently in the rotation before the season began. One of those is Martin Perez who was lost for the year to elbow surgery last month, and it's his spot that Tepesch has been filling...or trying to fill. Tepesch pitched well immediately after his call-up about four weeks ago, winning two of his first three assignments, and sporting a sub-3.00 ERA. One of those wins came against the Mariners in Texas, the righty working into the seventh, and allowing three runs. But he has been knocked around his last two times out, both losses at Washington, and home against the Indians with nine runs (8 earned) charged to his ledger in a combined 7.1 innings. Hernandez won his first three starts of the season, and the M's have been victorious in his last seven. But between those two stints were four consecutive Seattle losses against the two teams from the Lone Star State, most of the blame going to the offense and defense behind Hernandez. He earned no-decisions in his two outings against Texas, the first in Arlington on April 16 when he surrendered just one run in seven frames, and the other in Seattle 10 days later.
The Mariners are 1-6 in Hernandez's starts against the Rangers the past two seasons. The potential for rain looms all weekend, with Friday looking to be the wettest day of the three. Expect the roof to be shut at Safeco Field, and we'll keep an eye on the weather for the next two days to see if there are any changes. Hernandez is going to beat Texas sooner or later, but playing 1/2 odds on the off-chance that happens tonight is too rich for my blood. Let's see if we can't squeeze one more Texas upset out of this one with a free MLB pick on the visitors.
My Free MLB Pick: Rangers +180; Season: 62-60 (+1.10)