Ichiro Suzuki chasing down George Sisler won’t be the biggest story at Ameriquest Field in Arlington this weekend after all.
The resurgent Texas Rangers are right back in the thick of the AL West race.
Coming off a three-game sweep of division-leading Oakland, the Rangers will try to avoid a letdown when they host Suzuki and the last-place Seattle Mariners in the opener of a three-game series.
Texas was all but counted out of serious contention in the West after dropping seven of nine to open September. But the Rangers have come back with a vengeance, winning 10 of 13, including five in a row to climb back within two games of the suddenly slumping Athletics.
The Rangers are 5-1 without All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano, who is not expected to return this season because of a left hamstring injury.
On Thursday, the Rangers’ surprising run back into contention appeared to be coming to an end as they trailed by two heading into the bottom of the ninth. But Hank Blalock belted a solo homer and David Dellucci came through with a two-run double as Texas walked off with an improbable 5-4 victory.
“We never predict if we will win or lose. We always play to the end of the game,” Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. “That’s a huge strength of this club.”
Suzuki is just 10 hits shy of matching Sisler’s single-season record of 257, set in 1920 with the St. Louis Browns. The Mariners’ star outfielder has 10 games left to track down Sisler, beginning with the three-game set in Texas.
Suzuki went 5-for-5 at Anaheim on Tuesday and added four more hits in a 16-6 victory over the Angels on Wednesday, raising his average to a major league-leading .374.
“I want to get my next hit. That’s what I’m focusing on,” Suzuki said through an interpreter. “It’s great that I can be in this position.”
The Rangers have won nine of 13 meetings with the Mariners this year, and will close the season with what could be a huge three-game set in Seattle from Oct. 1-3.
Suzuki, a career .335 hitter against the Rangers, is 16-for-58 (.344) against Texas this year.