Texas (75-84) enters the season-ending three-game set tied for last in the West with Oakland, which closes out its season with a series against the division-winning Los Angeles Angels.
The Rangers pulled even with the Athletics after routing Los Angeles 16-2 on Wednesday, completing a three-game series sweep—their first against the Angels since Sept. 21-23, 2001.
Texas last finished at the bottom of the division from 2000-03 after winning the West title in 1998 and 1999.
The late push may be encouraging for Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, who feels the team can improve in 2008.
“There’s a lot more talent here than the results show,” Daniels told the Rangers’ official Web site. “But at the same time, until we produce and until we win, you can’t put that label on us.”
Edinson Volquez (2-1, 4.40 ERA), auditioning for a regular spot in the 2008 rotation, takes the mound for Texas. The 24-year-old right-hander has been erratic in five starts since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma on Sept. 1.
He was tagged for five runs and seven hits with five strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings of an 11-9 loss to Baltimore on Saturday. That performance was in stark contrast to his outing on Sept. 17, when he allowed two runs and five hits in six innings of a 5-4 loss at Minnesota.
“He struggled finding his rhythm in the first four innings, but he began settling down in the fifth,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said after Saturday’s loss. “By that time, though, he had too many pitches. I just wish he could have found his rhythm a little earlier.”
Volquez is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three games—two starts—against Seattle.
The Mariners (85-74), who are coming off a 4-2 win over Cleveland on Thursday, are not happy about missing the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year, but general manager Bill Bavasi and manager John McLaren will return next year.
“Did we get everything we expected for $113 million? No,” Mariners chief executive Howard Lincoln said referring to the team’s payroll, which ranks among the top six in baseball. “But we did get a lot. We got a winning season.”
Jeff Weaver (7-13, 6.30) has been a major disappointment this season after signing a one-year, $8.3 million free agent contract in the offseason.
The veteran right-hander hopes to end his difficult season on a positive note after going 1-3 with a 9.69 ERA in his last six starts, allowing opponents to hit .362 with eight home runs. That dismal stretch followed a four-game winning streak with a 3.14 ERA.
That run was capped off with a solid outing against Texas on Aug. 23, when he allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings of a 9-4 victory.
He failed to come close to that production Sunday, getting roughed up for five runs and five hits—including two homers—while hitting three batters in 5 1-3 innings before leaving the 7-4 loss to the Angels with a torn fingernail on his right hand.