After splitting a four-game series in Seattle last week, the Mariners and Texas Rangers are back at it again, this time at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for Friday's opener of a three-game set.
Yu Darvish gets the nod for Texas, and he'll try to solve a Mariners lineup that has caused him problems since his 2012 debut season. The M's dealt Darvish his first loss of the season last week, dropping him to 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in three starts at Seattle. For comparison, Darvish has only lost twice in 15 career home starts (11-2).
The right-hander has given up six runs over his last two starts since coming within one out of a perfect game at Houston in his first outing of the season. Pitching coach Mike Maddux said Darvish had an encouraging bullpen session on Tuesday, while Wednesday's rainout afforded him an extra day of rest.
"We found a mechanical glitch and we tuned it up," Maddux said.
For Seattle, Joe Saunders will try and improve on his 9.38 ERA in six non- postseason career starts in Texas. The lefty faced the Rangers at home this past weekend and came away with a no-decision despite yielding just one run and three hits in seven innings. Saunders said he is not sweating another trip to Rangers Ballpark.
"Everybody's going to have their rough games there," he said. "It's a tough place to pitch. I happened to be unfortunate to never pull out a 'W,' and the bad ones were bad. I think I threw my first complete game there and lost, 3-2. I lost 1-0 there once. That's kind of unheard of there."
On Thursday, Seattle rode strong pitching to avoid a three-game home sweep at the hands of the Tigers. Hisashi Iwakuma tossed six shutout innings, and relievers Carter Capps and Tom Wilhelmsen blanked Detroit the rest of the way for a 2-0 victory.
Texas was also in action Thursday at Chicago, but the Cubs smashed their way to a 6-2 victory by out-hitting the Rangers, 13-4. Starter Alexi Ogando could not get out of the third inning, as he was charged with five runs on six hits.
"It was just one of those days where it just didn't seem like things were meant to go our way," said Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "But that's baseball and that's the way things work."
The Rangers have failed to score more than four runs in seven straight games.