Sidelined for two weeks by the swine flu, Vicente Padilla(notes) is ready to return to the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation. If his recent history against the Seattle Mariners is any indication, it should be a smooth transition.
Padilla looks to continue his dominance of the Mariners as the surging Rangers try to improve to 5-0 at home against their AL West rivals Friday night.
Padilla (7-5, 4.67 ERA) hasn’t pitched since Texas’ first game following the All-Star break July 17. He was scratched from his next start because of flulike symptoms, and lab reports later indicated the right-hander had H1NI influenza A. He is thought to be the first athlete in U.S. major pro sports to be diagnosed with swine flu.
Scratched again for his scheduled start Tuesday because he was still weak from the illness, Padilla has made significant strides over the last several days.
“He’s feeling strong enough. That’s why he’s taking the ball tomorrow,” manager Ron Washington said Thursday. “I expect him to go out and do what he always does.”
Washington would no doubt enjoy seeing Padilla do more of what he’s done against Seattle lately. He’s 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in seven starts against the Mariners since Aug. 26, 2007, and the Rangers (57-43) are undefeated in those games.
In his only outing against Seattle in 2009, Padilla gave up one unearned run and one hit in eight innings of Texas’ 7-2, 10-inning road win May 5.
Though Padilla hasn’t pitched at home against the Mariners this year, Texas has outscored Seattle 23-9 in winning the clubs’ first four matchups at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Dating to last season, the Rangers have won six straight meetings at home.
That streak continued with a 7-1 victory in the opener of this four-game series Thursday night. Rookie left-hander Derek Holland(notes) took a one-hit shutout into the ninth inning and Michael Young(notes) hit two of Texas’ season high-tying five home runs as the Rangers won for the ninth time in 11 games overall.
Young is 14 for 23 (.609) with four homers, nine RBIs and six runs scored over his last six games. He’s batting .429 (18 for 42) with four homers in 10 games against Seattle this year.
The Mariners are not getting that kind of production from anyone lately. They’ve been held to four runs or fewer in nine consecutive games, batting .220 while going 4-5. They managed only three hits Thursday.
Seattle hopes to provide more support for Friday’s starter, Jason Vargas(notes) (3-4, 4.39). The left-hander returned from the minors Sunday and gave up six runs in four innings of a 12-3 loss to Cleveland.
Vargas did not get a decision in his only career start against the Rangers on May 12, holding them to one run in five innings of Seattle’s 7-1 loss.
Texas could be without second baseman Ian Kinsler(notes) for the third consecutive game because of a left hamstring strain. The 2008 All-Star, who has 23 home runs and a team-high 63 RBIs, did some agility work Thursday but wasn’t ready to return to the lineup.