RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3, 2.42) hasn’t recorded a victory since June 10, but remains tied for the team lead (with Felix Hernandez) with 12 quality starts.
GAME: Mariners (37-47, 4th, AL West, -11.5 GB) at Rangers (48-36, 2nd, AL West, -0.5 GB). GAME #: 85. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 13th (Rangers lead 7-5). WHEN: Thursday, 5:05 p.m., Rangers Ballpark. STREAKS: Mariners W 2; Rangers L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
When Kendrys Morales had two home runs in Seattle’s 9-2 victory over the Texas Rangers Wednesday, giving him 11 for the season, he became the fifth player to hit at least 10. Raul Ibanez (20) tops the list, followed by Kyle Seager (12), Morales, Michael Morse (11) and Jason Bay (11).
This is the first time Seattle has featured five hitters with at least 10 home runs prior to the All-Star break since 1999, when six Mariners had 10 or more, topped by Ken Griffey Jr.’s 28 and Alex Rodriguez’s 18. Despite such prodigious thumping, the 1999 Mariners didn’t go anywhere (79-83), and neither are the current Mariners.
But in the past two games, they have produced what is likely to go down as two of the major highlights of the 2013 season. As a follow-up to the 9-2 win Wednesday, the Mariners went into extra innings Thursday and defeated the Rangers again, 4-2, when Seager bashed a two-run homer, his 12th.
The Mariners, 37-47, have a chance to sweep the Rangers in Arlington, something they haven’t done since Sept. 24-26, 2001, and win three in a row for the first time since May 1-4. It’s largely up to Hisashi Iwakuma.
Iwakuma hasn’t won in three weeks, developing a penchant for giving up home runs. Iwakuma remains tied with luckless Felix Hernandez (three straight no decisions, four in his past five outings) with 12 quality starts.
Iwakuma opposes Martin Perez, who only recently joined the Rangers rotation after starting the season at AAA Round Rock (Pacific Coast League). A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3, 2.42 ERA, 0.87 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Iwakuma, a Tokyo native in his second major league season, both with Seattle, will make his 18th start and third against the Rangers. Iwakuma is 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in two outings against Texas this season with 14 strikeouts vs. one walk. Iwakuma hasn’t won since June 10. He has two losses and a no-decision for show for his last three outings.
RANGERS: LHP Martin Perez (2-1, 2.37 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
The 22-year-old Perez, a Venezuela native in his second major league season, both with Texas, makes his fourth start and first against the Mariners. Perez did not join the Rangers rotation until May 27 following a call up with AAA Round Rock, where he went 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA. After losing his first start, the lefty has won two in a row.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|7/4||Thr||at Tex||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3) vs. LHP Martin Perez (2-1)|
|7/5||Fri||at Cin||RHP Aaron Harang (3-7) vs. RHP Mat Latos (7-2)|
|7/6||Sat||at Cin||RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-2) vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (7-6)|
|7/7||Sun||at Cin||LHP Joe Saunders (5-8) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (5-6)|