Surging Mariners, slumping Rangers to square off in Seattle

MLB

If the Seattle Mariners can keep the score close, they’ve got a good chance to win.

The Mariners improved to 12-5 in one-run games — their .706 winning percentage is the best in the major leagues — with a 3-2 victory against the visiting Texas Rangers on Saturday night as J.P. Crawford and Mitch Haniger hit solo home runs.

Seattle can reach the .500 mark and complete a four-game sweep of the Rangers with a victory in Sunday afternoon’s series finale at T-Mobile Park.

“We play some one run games, don’t we?” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s amazing how many close games we play. We’d love to pound teams 8-2, but we aren’t built for that.”

The Mariners’ roller coaster of a season seems on its way back up. They have won five of their past six games following a six-game skid. That losing streak was preceded by a three-game winning streak that followed five losses in a row.

The Rangers, however, are heading in the opposite direction, having lost five in a row.

Saturday’s loss was Texas’ 11th consecutive on the road dating to May 6 in Minnesota. The Rangers also have lost 11 straight at T-Mobile Park, with their last win in Seattle coming on July 23, 2019.

The Rangers’ Adolis Garcia, who is tied for the major-league lead with 16 home runs, had three of his team’s four hits Saturday.

“We’ve got to get better,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “I know we have young hitters … but right now it seems like everybody but Adolis is in a little bit of a funk.”

Trailing 3-1 against former teammate Rafael Montero, the Rangers finally got some traffic on the basepaths in the ninth inning Saturday. Garcia reached on an infield single and Joey Gallo dropped a fly ball into center field for a hit, moving Garcia to third base. Nick Solak followed with his second sacrifice fly of the game but Montero got Brock Holt to fly out to right to end it.

“A lot of guys are struggling right now offensively,” Woodward said. “When we’re not getting hits, we still need to find a way to get on base.”

The series finale is scheduled to feature a matchup of left-handers: Texas’ Hyeon-Jong Yang (0-2, 5.47 ERA) against Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi (2-3, 4.02).

Yang, who has been filling in for the injured Kohei Arihara, allowed seven runs in 3 1/3 innings of an 11-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif. The 33-year-old rookie from South Korea will be facing the Mariners for the first time.

Kikuchi has taken over the role of Mariners ace in the absence of the injured Marco Gonzales. Kikuchi has made five consecutive quality starts, including allowing one run on four hits in six innings of a 4-2 victory at Oakland on Monday. Kikuchi has a 2.78 ERA over his past five outings with 36 strikeouts in 32 1/ 3 innings. He is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against Texas.

–Field Level Media

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