Alexi Ogando tries to continue his brilliant start to the season on Saturday when the Texas Rangers resume a four-game set against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Ogando has been tremendous in his return to the rotation, as he has won both of his starts, while allowing just one run in 11 2/3 innings (0.77 ERA). After twirling 6 1/3 scoreless innings to win his season debut, Ogando yielded just a run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings to beat Tampa Bay on Monday.
Seattle will counter with veteran left-hander Joe Saunders, who is 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA. Saunders bounced back from a loss in his first start and tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings to beat the Houston Astros on Monday.
"I felt good," said Saunders. "My command was better. I was able to feel the ball better. It was just a matter of telling yourself, 'Hey, we've got a lot of fans in the stands tonight. Go out and put on a decent show and turn it into a win.'"
Saunders is now 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 10 starts in Seattle.
However, he has struggled against the Rangers over the course of his career, posting a 3-7 mark to go along with a 6.48 ERA in 11 starts.
Seattle evened this series at a game apiece on Friday, as Hisashi Iwakuma pitched 6 2/3 innings on his 32nd birthday to help the Mariners to a 3-1 win. Iwakuma (2-0) gave up one run on three hits with a walk and six strikeouts, while Kyle Seager drove in two runs for the Mariners, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
"The way he commanded every pitch to both sides of the plate was pretty special," said Seattle catcher Kelly Shoppach about Iwakuma. "He really did keep them off balance. The way he threw the ball tonight was just really impressive, I'm just really happy for him, on his birthday, it was pretty unbelievable."
Yu Darvish (2-1) got the loss after giving up three runs on three hits with a walk and eight strikeouts over six innings for the Rangers, who took a 4-3 win in the series opener on Thursday. Ian Kinsler's home run accounted for the lone run for the team.
"He struggled with his command, mainly of the fastball, but after that first inning he settled in and put up five zeros, he just had trouble getting started early," said Texas manager Ron Washington about Darvish.
Texas was 10-9 against the Mariners last season.