The Texas Rangers appear to have put an untimely losing streak behind them as they attempt to complete a three-game sweep against the host Seattle Mariners on Thursday. Texas has followed a five-game skid, which began with three straight home setbacks against Seattle, with three consecutive wins and climbed within 2 1/2 games of Minnesota for the second wild-card spot in the American League with 11 remaining.
The Rangers scored seven runs in the fourth inning on Wednesday and held on to post an 8-6 victory over the Mariners. Rougned Odor highlighted the rally with a grand slam as Texas improved to 3-2 on its nine-game road trip. Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz homered for Seattle, which has suffered five straight losses and sits four games behind the Twins with 10 to play. Robinson Cano has been a bright spot for the Mariners during the slide, going 8-for-21 with four RBIs during his five-game hitting streak.
TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Texas), ROOT Northwest (Seattle)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers LH Cole Hamels (10-4, 3.96 ERA) vs. Mariners LH James Paxton (12-4, 2.98)
Hamels has recorded one victory over his last five starts but pitched well enough to win on Saturday, when he allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings of a road loss to the Los Angeles Angels. The 33-year-old Californian did issue four walks, however, and has not had an outing in which he didn’t give out a free pass since July 1 against the White Sox in Chicago. Hamels improved to 6-3 lifetime against Seattle on Sept. 11, when he gave up three runs and tied a season high - also versus the Mariners - with seven strikeouts in six frames.
Paxton worked only 1 1/3 innings in a loss at Houston on Friday in his return from a pectoral strain, yielding three runs on four hits and two walks as he reached his limit of 50 pitches. It was the first defeat since June 27 against Philadelphia for the 28-year-old Canadian, who hasn’t surrendered more than three earned runs since June 16 at Texas. Paxton fell to 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA in nine career starts against the Rangers with that setback, but he allowed two hits over eight scoreless innings in a win versus the club on April 15.
1. The Mariners have been erratic offensively during their losing streak, scoring six runs on two occasions while recording a total of four in the other three defeats.
2. Texas DH Adrian Beltre has gone 5-for-12 with two RBIs and two runs scored over his last three contests
3. Seattle RHP Dan Altavilla, who has not pitched since Sunday due to a swollen right foot, hopes to return to the bullpen on Thursday.
PREDICTION: Rangers 5, Mariners 3