(Updated: ADDS Mariners wild card standing in lede)
The Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers are clinging to rapidly shrinking American League wild card chances and can’t afford to pile up losses. The Mariners will try to avoid a fourth consecutive setback when they host the Rangers in the opener of a three-game series Tuesday, and try to cut into their four-game deficit behind Minnesota for the second wild card spot.
Seattle took three of four from Texas last week while totaling 28 runs in the three wins but watched the bats cool while getting swept in a three-game set at Houston over the weekend. “We swung the bats really good in Texas and coming in here, we hoped to have a better series obviously than we did,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters after watching the Astros clinch the AL West in a 7-1 decision Sunday. “It didn’t happen. They’ve got a really good ballclub. They played well and we didn‘t. They beat us. We’ve got to play better and that’s where we’re at.” The Rangers need to play better as well and snapped a five-game slide with a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday to pull within a half-game of Seattle. Texas will send left-hander Martin Perez to the mound Tuesday while the Mariners counter with righty Mike Leake.
TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Texas), ROOT Northwest (Seattle)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers LH Martin Perez (12-11, 4.82 ERA) vs. Mariners RH Mike Leake (10-12, 4.01)
Perez had a streak of seven wins in as many starts come to an end Wednesday, when Seattle got to him for three runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. The Venezuela native yielded home runs to Jean Segura and Mike Zunino in that outing after surrendering a total of one homer in his previous five turns. Perez is 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA and 28 hits allowed - four homers - in 21 2/3 innings across four starts against the Mariners this season.
Leake has yet to suffer a loss since coming over in a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals last month and outdueled Perez on Wednesday. The Arizona State product struck out five and scattered one run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings to down Texas and pick up his third win in as many outings. Leake recorded 17 strikeouts and two walks over 18 2/3 innings during that span while allowing a total of five earned runs.
1. Mariners 2B Robinson Cano needs one home run to reach 300 for his career.
2. Texas 2B Rougned Odor is 0-for-11 with six strikeouts in the last three games.
3. Seattle 1B Yonder Alonso went 5-for-8 with three RBIs in two games against Texas last week.
PREDICTION: Mariners 4, Rangers 3