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.
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:
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.
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.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|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)|