BY SPNW Staff 07:11AM 04/14/2013

#14: Pressure On Maurer To Show He’s Ready

The Mariners close out a four-game series with the Texas Rangers Sunday with Brandon Maurer getting another chance to prove that he’s ready to pitch in the majors.

Justin Smoak went 1-for-4 Saturday night, but is hitting just .182 in the season’s first 13 games. However, Smoak is hitting .383 in his last 13 games against the Rangers, his former club. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

GAME: Rangers (8-4, 2nd, AL West, -1.0 GB) at Mariners (5-8, 4th, AL West, -4.5 GB). GAME #: 14. SERIES: 4th of 4 games. MEETING: 4th (Rangers lead 2-1). WHEN: Sunday, 1:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 1; Rangers W 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network

The Mariners wasted another commendable Safeco Field pitching performance by Joe Saunders Saturday night, losing to the Texas Rangers 3-1. It didn’t help the Mariners any that Franklin Gutierrez couldn’t play, sidelined with a nagging right groin injury, or that outfielders Michael Morse and Michael Saunders were also out of the lineup.

The Mariners have collective fingers crossed that Gutierrez, who already has three leadoff home runs, will be back in the lineup Sunday for the final game of their series with the Texas Rangers. But, according to manager Eric Wedge, Gutierrez’s availability is a day-to-day decision.

Gutierrez, who has missed most of the past two years with a variety of ailments (four trips to the disabled list), apparently aggravated his groin Thursday when he ran into the wall chasing a drive by Lance Bergman.

Morse, meanwhile, is out for a week with a fractured finger and Saunders is on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right shoulder.

The injuries to three of Seattle’s top hitters won’t help Brandon Maurer’s cause Sunday. The rookie who is making the jump from AA ball to the majors makes his third start of the season — and it might be his last if he doesn’t show significant improvement from his first two outings.

Maurer was shelled in his first start and couldn’t get out of the first inning in his last one. Given that that Wedge and GM Jack Zduriencik have shown little patience with unproductive pitchers — Kameron Loe has already been designated for assignment and former starter Blake Beavan banished to the bullpen — Maurer may not have a lot of rope left.

The 22-year-old Maurer will oppose 24-year-old Nick Tepesch Sunday. A closer look at the starters:

SUNDAY’S PROBABLES

MARINERS: RHP Brandon Maurer (0-2, 16.20 ERA, 2.40 WHIP)

The 22-year-old Maurer, a native of Newport Beach, CA., is in his first major league season after making the jump to the bigs from AA Jackson, where he went 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA last year, which netted him Southern League Pitcher of the Year honors. Maurer’s transition to the majors has been tough. After he was shelled in his first start, Maurer couldn’t get out of the first inning in his second.

  • LAST START: April 9 vs. Houston, lost 16-9; 6 earned runs on 7 hits in 0.2 innings; 2 strikeouts 1 walk, 0 home runs, 36 pitches, 21 for strikes; faced 10 batters.
  • LAST VS. RANGERS: Never faced.
  • CAREER VS. RANGERS: No record.
  • AT SAFECO FIELD: 0-1, 81.00 ERA in 1 start covering 0.2 innings; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 12.00 WHIP.
  • LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Maurer has never faced a member of the Rangers roster.
  • CURRENT RANGERS VS. MAURER: No record.

RANGERS: RHP Nick Tepesch (1-0, 1.23 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)

The 24-year-old Tepesch, in his first season in the majors, will make his second start and the first of his career against the Mariners. The Rangers selected the Kansas City native in the 14th round of the 2010 amateur draft after he pitched for the University of Missouri. Tepesch began his pro career in 2011 at Hickory in the Sally League and has since pitched for A Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League (2012) and Frisco of the Texas League (2012). Tepesch started this season with Round Rock of the PCL, winning his only start.

  • LAST START: April 9 vs. Tampa Bay, won 6-1; 1 earned run on 4 hits over 7.1 innings; 5 strikeouts, 3 walks, 0 home runs, 104 pitches, 62 for strikes.
  • LAST VS. MARINERS: Never faced.
  • CAREER VS. MARINERS: No record.
  • AT SAFECO FIELD: No record.
  • LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Tepesch has never faced a member of the Seattle roster.
  • CURRENT MARINERS VS. TEPESCH: No record.

MARINERS STATS / NOTES

  • CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Houston, four vs. Texas (Thursday-Sunday), three vs. Detroit (Tuesday-Thursday). The Mariners get their first day off Monday, following 14 consecutive games to open the season.
  • Although he did not get the win, starter Joe Saunders is 7-0 at Safeco Field. He lowered his career ERA in the facility from 1.91 to 1.71.
  • Jason Bay’s two-out, RBI single in the fifth inning was the Mariners’ 18th two-out RBI of the season.
  • Kendrys Morales did not walk for the first time since April 6, snapping a six-game streak.
  • In the Mariners’ five victories, they are batting .355 (16-for-45) with runners in scoring position. In seven losses, the Mariners are batting .084 (5-for-59) with RISP. The Mariners have no hits with RISP six times in 13 games.
  • After the day off Monday — counting spring training, they have played 30 of the last 31 days — the Mariners have 16 consecutive games before their second day off, May 2.

UPCOMING PROBABLES

Date Day Opp. Probable Pitchers
4/14 Sun vs. Tex RHP Brandon Maurer (0-2) vs. Nick Tepesch (1-0)
4/16 Tue vs. Det RHP Aaron Harang (0-0) vs. Doug Fister (2-0)
4/17 Wed vs. Det RHP Felix Hernandez (1-2) vs. Max Scherzer (1-0)
4/18 Thr vs. Det RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) vs. Justin Verlander (2-1)

 


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