Hisashi Iwakuma will look to correct his long-ball issues and pitch the Seattle Mariners to their first road sweep of the Texas Rangers in over 11 years on Thursday night in the finale of a three-game series in Arlington.
The 32-year-old righty was 7-1 with a 1.79 earned run average after 14 starts this season, but has gone 0-2 over his last three outings while pitching to a 5.40 ERA. He has allowed four runs in each of those starts.
Iwakuma yielded 10 homers through 15 starts this season, but has been touched for five over his last two appearances. Two of those came in last Friday's no- decision versus the Chicago Cubs, in which Iwakuma allowed six hits over eight innings.
Iwakuma, who now has an ERA of 2.42, will make his third start of the season versus the Rangers and is 2-2 with a save and 3.86 ERA in six games (5 starts) against them since joining the major leagues last year.
Countering for the Rangers will be Martin Perez, who makes his fourth start of the season and 10th of his career tonight.
Perez made his season debut on May 27, then did not pitch again in the majors until late June. He won both of his starts to close the month and hurled 6 2/3 scoreless frames to beat Cincinnati on Friday. The southpaw yielded six hits and one walk, moving to 2-1 on the year with a 2.37 earned run average.
"He was pounding the strike zone and not getting caught in any patterns," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He had good mound presence."
Perez, 22, went 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three meetings with the Mariners a season ago, making one start.
Seattle had lost four of five prior to opening this series with Texas on Tuesday, but has managed to win two straight over the Rangers. That has the Mariners in position to sweep the Rangers in Texas for the first time since taking all four games of a set from April 12-15, 2002.
Kyle Seager hit a two-run homer in the 10th inning to give the Mariners a 4-2 victory on Wednesday. His 12th home run of the season came after Michael Saunders drew a two-out walk off Rangers reliever Robbie Ross.
Seager ended with three hits and Jason Bay also went deep for the Mariners. Charlie Furbush threw 1 2/3 relief innings of no-hit ball to earn the win and Tom Wilhelmsen faced the minimum to collect his 17th save of the season.
"We didn't have any room for error with those guys coming out of the bullpen," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "So we needed them to pitch the way they pitched. They did a great job."
Ian Kinsler and Daniel Murphy each connected on homers for the Rangers, who have dropped three of their last four and trail the first-place Oakland Athletics by a half-game in the AL West.
"Bottom line is, in the end they took advantage of the opportunities they had to win it," said Washington. "All you can do when you're facing good pitching is take advantage of the opportunities you have. We had it, we just didn't take advantage of it."
Texas had won seven of 10 versus the Mariners before this series.