Suzuki looks to break the franchise record for consecutive games played and help the Mariners (22-32) snap a season-high six-game losing streak when they conclude their three-game series with the first-place Texas Rangers (28-24) on Wednesday at Ameriquest Field.
Suzuki went 2-for-4 in Seattle’s 6-4 loss to Texas on Tuesday, playing in his 293rd consecutive game to tie Edgar Martinez’ franchise record, set from 1994-1996.
The last game the speedy right fielder missed was July 10, 2004, when he received a day off. Suzuki has missed only 14 games in his six-year career.
After batting a career-low .303 last season, Suzuki has rebounded to hit .326 this year and leads the majors with 74 hits. He had an 18-game hitting streak from May 5-24 that raised his average 60 points.
But even with the steady Suzuki in the lineup, the Mariners have struggled. They finished last in the AL West the last two seasons and appear on their way to another fifth-place finish this year.
The Mariners have lost eight straight on the road and 12 of their last 14 away from Seattle.
“Nobody likes what we’re going through right now,” manager Mike Hargrove said. “It’s not a fun time. It’s the exact opposite of what we do at home. But we have to keep working hard, which I think we’re doing.”
Felix Hernandez (3-6, 5.59 ERA), the 20-year-old phenom who showed so much promise at the end of 2005, looks to turn his season around when he starts for the Mariners on Wednesday.
Hernandez struck out 77 batters and posted a 2.67 ERA in 12 starts last season, but has been hit hard this year. The right-hander has alternated wins and losses in his last seven starts, and gave up three runs in seven innings in a 3-1 defeat to Minnesota on Friday.
Hernandez lost to Texas on April 18, and is 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA in three starts against the Rangers.
Thanks to a grand slam by Brad Wilkerson, the Rangers won their third straight on Tuesday night, and have won five of their last six overall.
“I hit it pretty good, but it was a little high up in the air,” said Wilkerson, who has four career grand slams. “Where I hit it, it can carry in this ballpark. I thought I’d get at least a sac fly out of it. I was pleased when I got four RBIs instead of one.”
John Koronka (4-2, 4.06) starts for Texas on Wednesday. The left-hander hasn’t won since May 8 against Minnesota, but has pitched well in his last two starts, allowing a combined five runs.
Koronka beat Seattle—and Hernandez—on April 18, allowing five hits and one run in five innings in his first career start against the Mariners.