The Mariners have dropped a season-high eight consecutive games and will close out their three-game series with the Texas Rangers Sunday at Safeco field.
GAME: Rangers (32-17, 1st, AL West, +5.5 GA) at Mariners (20-29, 4th, AL West, -12.0 GB). GAME #: 50. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 10th (Rangers lead 7-2). WHEN: Sunday, 1:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 8; Rangers W 3. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Safe to say that without the contributions of Hisashi Iwakuma, the Mariners would be in a woeful slog with the Houston Astros for last place in the AL West. In addition to Iwakuma’s 5-1 record, he leads the American League in WHIP (0.86), ranks ninth in fewest walks per nine innings (1.53), 10th in hits allowed per nine (6.2) and 10th in ERA (2.37).
He’s also only one of two Seattle starters to defeat the AL West-leading Texas Rangers this season, and has a chance to notch win No. 2 Sunday. The Mariners haven’t had one of those in a long time. Saturday night, they threw their ace, Felix Hernandez, at the AL West-leading Rangers, but came away with their eighth consecutive defeat when Hernandez allowed five earned runs on a season-high 11 hits.
Seattle’s eight-game losing streak is its longest since a 17-game slide July 6-26, 2011. The Mariners started that streak 3.5 games out in the AL West and ended it 15.5 games behind. When the Mariners began their current plunge, they were in second place in the division race. They are now fourth, having dropped to 12.0 games out.
Iwakuma will oppose RHP Nick Tepesch, who has struggled, with losses in three of his past four starts.
The Mariners announced after Saturday’s game that 1B Justin Smoak suffered a strained oblique muscle. He will be re-evaluated Sunday.
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 2.37 ERA, 0.86 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with the Mariners, will make his 11th start and second against the Rangers. Iwakuma had a three-game winning streak snapped when he lost at Cleveland May 20 in a game in which he allowed a season-high five earned runs. Thanks to a late spate of Seattle home runs, he avoided his second loss. Iwakuma has already defeated Texas this season.
RANGERS: RHP Nick Tepesch (3-4, 3.98 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
The 24-year-old Tepesch, a Kansas City native in his first major league season, will make his ninth start and third against the Mariners. Tepesch has a loss (April 14) and a no-decision (April 20) against Seattle this season. He has lost three of his past four outings, including his last one. He’s worked into the seventh inning in just three of his starts.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|5/26||Sun||vs. Tex||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1) vs. RHP Nick Tepesch (3-4)|
|5/27||Mon||vs. SD||RHP Aaron Harang (1-5) vs. LHP Clayton Richard (0-4)|
|5/28||Tue||vs. SD||RHP Brandon Maurer (2-6) RHP Edinson Volquez (3-5)|
|5/29||Wed||at SD||LHP Joe Saunders (3-5) vs. LHP Eric Stults (4-4)|
|5/30||Thr||at SD||RHP Felix Hernandez (5-3) vs. Andrew Cashner (3-2)|