While his team is turning in its best stretch of baseball of the season, Seattle Mariners manager John McLaren isn’t afraid to keep a superstar like Ichiro Suzuki on the bench during one of the most taxing parts of the year.
Suzuki is expected to return to the lineup, but McLaren is expected to sit a few others as the Mariners close out a four-game series with the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Seattle (73-54) is in the middle of a stretch of 44 games in 45 days and Sunday is the finale of a seven-game road trip in which the team has gone 4-2 so far.
The Mariners haven’t seem too affected by the schedule, winning 19 of their last 27 games. After taking the first two in this four-game series with the Rangers (57-72), Seattle lost 5-3 on Saturday after blowing a 3-0 lead.
Adam Jones started in center field in place of Suzuki, who did not play for the first time this season. McLaren told the Mariners’ official Web site Saturday had been planned as Suzuki’s day off.
“We always had this designed that he would DH and have a (scheduled) off day the next day and he would come to me when he needed a full off day,” McLaren said. “He came to me a couple of days ago and said he thought Saturday would be a good day.”
Suzuki, who is 12 hits shy of his seventh straight 200-hit season, is hitting .517 (15-for-29) during a six-game hitting streak.
Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt also wasn’t in the starting lineup Saturday, although he came in as a pinch-runner in the ninth. Betancourt is hitting .341 (28-for-82) this month.
McLaren also said he would have a few other players sit out Sunday’s game, and catcher Kenji Johjima may get a day off.
Ian Kinsler tied Saturday’s game with a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth for Texas, and he drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh with an RBI single.
Kinsler’s homer came one pitch after third baseman Adrian Beltre made a throwing error on a play that would have ended the inning. Beltre also made a throwing error in the seventh that allowed Travis Metcalf to score and make it 4-3.
“They made some mistakes and we capitalized,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “We kept the right attitude and ended up getting the win.”
Seattle returns home Monday for a three-game series with the Angels before beginning a season-long 10-game road trip on Thursday.
The Mariners will close out their current road stretch with Jarrod Washburn (9-10, 4.11 ERA) on the mound. On Tuesday, Washburn won for the first time since July 4 after pitching six innings against the Minnesota Twins, allowing two runs and five hits in the 7-2 win.
The left-hander made seven starts between wins, going 0-4 with a 5.23 ERA.
“When it starts getting attention from other places than my head, you know it’s been too long,” Washburn said.
Washburn is winless in his last 10 starts at Arlington, going 0-4 with a 7.31 ERA. He’s also 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in three starts against the Rangers this season.
Vicente Padilla (3-9, 6.55) counters for the Rangers, looking to win his first start in four outings. He struggled on Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing six runs and seven hits - including two homers - in five innings of a 6-2 loss.
The right-hander is 1-5 with a 7.07 ERA in six starts and two relief appearances against the Mariners. He is 0-2 with an 11.00 ERA in two starts this season against them.