Cole Hamels hasn't exactly been lights out for the Texas Rangers, but his presence in the rotation seems to have made an impact in their run to the top of the AL West.
The Rangers seek their seventh straight win with the left-hander on the mound Saturday night when they try to deny the Seattle Mariners their longest road streak in over a decade.
Texas had a 47-52 record and 4.54 ERA entering play July 29, when reports began flooding in that the club had agreed to a deal with Philadelphia for Hamels. The Rangers have since run off the AL's second-best record at 32-16 while posting a 3.68 ERA.
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They swept a four-game series from Houston this week to take over the division lead, but had their five-game winning streak snapped in a series-opening 3-1 loss in Arlington. Texas maintained its 2 1/2-game advantage when the Astros lost to Oakland.
"This was not a situation where there was a letdown," manager Jeff Banister told MLB's official website.
Hamels (3-1, 4.04 ERA) will try to help the Rangers (79-68) get back on track after going 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA while leading them to six straight wins since a 4-3 loss at Seattle (72-26) on Aug. 7. He's also lasted at least seven innings in his last four starts.
The 31-year-old has become familiar with the Mariners in his short time with Texas. He's facing them for a fourth time already after going 1-1 with a 4.95 ERA in the previous three meetings.
Most recently, Hamels gave up four runs over seven innings in a 9-6 road win Sept. 8. Mark Trumbo is 4 for 9 with a home run off him and Robinson Cano's only hit in nine at-bats left the park.
Ketel Marte went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and Kyle Seager was 2 for 4 with an RBI on Friday when the Mariners were held to three runs or less for the fifth time in seven games. Marte has three straight two-hit games, while Seager is 20 for 40 with four homers and 13 RBIs over a 10-game road hitting streak.
"It's always fun to win, no matter what," Tom Wilhelmsen said after recording his 12th straight save. "That's what we all want to do. That's what we've been trying to do the whole time."
Just 10 days after dominating the Rangers, Vidal Nuno (1-2, 3.21) looks to lead Seattle to its first seven-game road winning streak since a 13-game run in 2003. He allowed one hit with a career-high 10 strikeouts over seven innings in a 6-0 home win Sept. 9.
Nuno, however, is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA while giving up seven home runs in his three away starts.
The left-hander faces an offense that had hit .339 and averaged 9.0 runs during its win streak before finishing with six hits and going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position in the opener.
Prince Fielder walked with the bases loaded in the fifth inning to end a 22-inning scoreless streak against the Mariners, who have won 11 of 17 in the season series. Josh Hamilton struck out as a pinch-hitter a week after having surgery on his left knee.
Shin-soo Choo stayed hot with three hits, leaving him 10 for 13 over his last three games.