The Seattle Mariners are challenging for the AL West lead and are players in the wild-card race. Losing three straight to sub-.500 teams is not, however, the best path to those goals.
The Mariners look to avoid their fourth consecutive loss Tuesday when they continue a four-game road series against the Texas Rangers with a doubleheader.
Since moving within one game of the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels, Seattle (54-42) has dropped three in a row. Because the Angels have lost two of three in that span, the Mariners are only two games back.
After being shut out in back-to-back games at Toronto and managing three hits in each contest, Seattle’s lineup was more productive in Monday’s series opener, an 8-7 loss.
Seattle, which had 16 hits, is mired in its longest skid since dropping six in a row June 13-19.
Sammy Sosa provided the bulk of the Rangers’ offense Monday with a three-run homer - the 603rd of his career - and a two-run double.
Since homering June 30 at Boston, Sosa was 6-for-43 (.140) with one RBI in 12 games in July. His 15th homer of the season is one more than he had in 102 games for Baltimore in 2005 before sitting out last year.
“It’s been a tough month for me. Every player has to go through that situation,” Sosa said. “I know how hard I work every day and somehow, some way I’m going to get out of this.”
Brad Wilkerson added a two-run homer for Texas (43-56), which had lost four of five.
While the Mariners will be playing their first doubleheader of the season, it’s the second for the Rangers, who were swept at home by the New York Yankees on May 3.
Texas manager Ron Washington is no fan of doubleheaders.
“I hate them,” he said. “I hated them, especially as a player. I could go 0-for-10.”
Ryan Feierabend (1-3, 9.31 ERA) starts the opener for Seattle. The 21-year-old left-hander has struggled this season and failed to pitch past the fifth inning in each of his last four starts. After allowing 10 runs in 1 1-3 innings of a 17-3 loss at Kansas City on July 3, Feierabend gave up three runs and five hits over four innings at Oakland on July 8 as Seattle won 7-3.
Feierabend earned his first major league victory against the Rangers on June 3, yielding four runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts in an 11-6 win. He is 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA in two starts against Texas.
John Rheinecker (0-0, 12.00) makes his second start of the season for the Rangers. The left-hander struggled in his season debut against Detroit on June 5, allowing four runs, four walks and seven hits in three innings, although Texas won 7-4.
Rheinecker, who was 4-3 with a 3.57 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Oklahoma, recorded his first major league win against the Mariners on May 29, 2006. He scattered four hits over 8 1-3 innings, did not issue a walk and struck out five in a 2-0 victory.
Jarrod Washburn (8-7, 4.02) starts the nightcap for Seattle, hoping to rebound from two straight sub-par outings. The left-hander is 0-1 with 6.57 ERA in two starts after going 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his three previous games.
Washburn did not receive a decision in the Mariners’ 6-5 victory over Baltimore on Wednesday after allowing five runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. He has struggled in two starts this season against Texas, going 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA.
Washburn is 7-7 with a 4.16 ERA in 23 starts against the Rangers, last beating them June 22, 2005 while with the Angels.
Texas’ Michael Young is batting .333 (17-for-52) with three homers against the left-hander.
Kameron Loe (5-8, 5.69) looks to get back into the win column when he starts the second game for Texas. The right-hander was outstanding during a recent five-start stretch, going 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA. His last two starts, however, haven’t been nearly as good, as he has been reached for 11 runs - nine earned - and 11 hits in 8 2-3 innings.
Loe gave up six runs - four in the second inning - and six hits over six innings Thursday in a 7-5 loss to Cleveland.
“It’s hard to recover from a four-run inning. A lot of my losses have been because of one bad inning,” Loe said. “I’ve been getting run support. If I can eliminate the big inning, I’ll be all right.”
He is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three career starts against Seattle.