Matthews and the Rangers begin a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Ameriquest Field on Monday, as the center fielder looks to extend an 11-game hitting streak.
On the season, Matthews is batting .314 with 18 homers and 77 RBIs—all career highs for the eight-year veteran. It’s his fielding, though, that has manager Buck Showalter so impressed.
“I’ve had a ringside seat and I can’t imagine a center fielder having a better year than Gary has had, and that would be if he was hitting .220,” Showalter said.
Matthews’ latest homer came in the Rangers’ 8-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. The victory earned Texas (76-74) a four-game split of the series.
Kevin Millwood (15-10, 4.47 ERA) will have a tough act to follow Monday, after Vicente Padilla took a shutout into the eighth inning of Sunday’s win. Millwood may be up to the challenge, though, as he is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA and a .191 opponent batting average in his last four starts.
The right-hander pitched seven solid innings against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, allowing three runs and seven hits while striking out six in the 11-3 win.
“Kevin has been pitching well for a while, he’s a horse,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He kept pounding the strike zone and made the runs matter.”
Millwood is 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA in seven career starts against the Mariners.
Seattle (71-78) counters with Felix Hernandez (11-13, 4.60), who hasn’t pitched since facing the Rangers on Sept. 10. The 20-year-old right-hander allowed one run and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings in that outing, but did not receive a decision in the team’s 4-2 loss.
Seattle skipped Hernandez’s turn in the rotation last week as they try to limit him to 200 innings this season.
“It’s important for me to finish the season strong,” said Hernandez, who has thrown 174 innings so far. “I felt very, very strong. That’s good for me the rest of the year and next year.”
Hernandez is 1-3 with a 6.03 ERA in six career starts against Texas. Matthews is 6-for-14 with seven RBIs against him.
The Mariners beat the Kansas City Royals 10-5 on Sunday to salvage a four-game split.
Chris Snelling and Kenji Johjima each homered, but Ichiro Suzuki was hit in the lower right leg by a pitch in the fifth inning. He stayed in the game and went 2-for-4 before being lifted in the ninth.
Manager Mike Hargrove said he was not sure if the outfielder, who has recorded 200 hits in each of his first six major league seasons, will play Monday.
Texas has won nine of the 13 meetings between the two clubs this season, including six of seven at Ameriquest Field.