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September 16, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Mariners try to make Texas Rangers sweat over final two-plus weeks

Many things have not gone well for the Mariners in 2012 when they play teams with winning records. But they have actually been quite successful against the Texas Rangers, owners of the best record in the American League.
The Mariners are 34-22 against teams with losing records this season, one of the better marks in all of baseball. But they are just 36-54 against winning teams.
Against the Rangers, however, the Mariners are a surprising 7-8 after last night’s 8-6 victory in Arlington. Seattle has also managed to battle the Rangers to a 4-4 standstill at Rangers Ballpark, with the decisive game in the road series to be played today.
And you’d better believe this is causing problems for the Rangers.
Photo Credit: AP

Texas opens play today clinging to just a two-game lead over the Oakland Athletics in the AL West. The A’s are playing one of the tougher schedules amongst AL playoff contenders this month, but just will not leave the Rangers alone.
This series against the Mariners was a good chance for the Rangers to open up some distance on their Oakland rivals, but that hasn’t happened. One reason is that Jason Vargas continued last night with his recent string of good outings in Arlington, largely because of his ability to contain the left-handed portion of the Rangers lineup. Otherwise, last night’s game probably would not have been close. As it is, the Mariners needed every bit of their 6-1 lead in order for the bullpen to hold the Rangers off — barely — just enough for Justin Smoak to win it with a late homer.
The Rangers’ ability to generate runs in bunches via extra-base hits is also part of their offensive undoing at times. This is not a team that patiently works counts and wears pitchers out. Texas hitters go up there hacking and look for somebody to leave a pitch in the strike zone that can be pummeled.
Pitchers who can be patient and minimize mistakes — as Hisashi Iwakuma did the other night — can emerge successful.
Blake Beavan takes the mound for the third time this season in his “home” balpark near to neighboring Irving, Tex. where he was raised. Beavan has actually been fairly successful against the Rangers in both his prior starts here, winning the first game 21-8 and giving up most of his runs in the middle innings after shutting Texas down prior to that and riding a big early lead.
He lost his next game 1-0.
So, the key for Beavan today will be to minimize mistakes. And with Matt Harrison on the mound for the Rangers, there won’t be much room for any errors by Beavan or his teammates. Harrison hasn’t lost to Seattle since the Jack Zduriencik regime began running the Mariners.
Yeah, he was helped a bit by Safeco Field knocking down a home run ball or two earlier this season. But once again, the Rangers have plenty to play for today and will likely jump on any opportunity given them. The Mariners have already caused enough problems for Texas this season and another win here today will give the Rangers a whole new set of headaches going into the final 16 days of play.

Comments | Topics: Hisashi Iwakuma


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