With a 10-game division lead, Texas (82-63) looks to extend its seven-game winning streak Friday when it heads West to open a three-game series against Seattle.
Hernandez (11-11, 2.39 ERA) will try to boost what may be slim AL Cy Young Award hopes. Hernandez leads the league in ERA and is second in strikeouts with 214.
Despite his outstanding season, Seattle’s ace has had a hard time figuring out the Rangers. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in four starts against them this season, and 8-12 with a 4.16 ERA in 26 career starts.
Hernandez had his streak of 17 straight quality starts broken against the Angels on Saturday, when he yielded seven runs - four earned - in 6 2-3 innings as the Mariners fell 7-4.
Seattle has provided Hernandez with 81 runs of support - fewest in the majors among pitchers with at least 200 innings. With 467 total runs in 2010, the Mariners are the only team in baseball with fewer than 500.
Seattle (55-91) has lost 10 of 13 to the Rangers in the season series, including five of six at Safeco Field.
“I’m not thinking about clinching,” Texas manager Ron Washington told the team’s official website. “I’m thinking about going to Seattle and not letting our guard down. Win a series and see what happens. You can’t get ahead of yourselves.”
The Rangers continue to stay focused on the daily task at hand despite the prospect of their first playoff appearance since 1999.
“Obviously you get to a point where you start thinking about it,” said second baseman Ian Kinsler(notes), who is 8 for 43 with seven strikeouts against Hernandez. “But everyone in here understands that it can turn into a lot of work and we don’t want that to happen. We want to continue to play the way we are right now, and try to close this thing out as fast as possible.”
Wilson had been 7-0 since the All-Star break before going 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA in two starts this month, yielding 13 hits and seven walks in 8 1-3 innings. The left-hander matched his shortest outing of the season Friday, giving up four runs in three innings of a 6-5, 13-inning win over the Yankees.
Wilson was also done after three innings the last time he started in Seattle. He allowed four runs, six hits and four walks, but escaped without a decision as the Rangers won 11-6. He’s 1-0 with a 3.71 ERA in three games against the Mariners this year.
Seattle has dropped seven straight, and is looking to avoid matching its season-worst eight-game losing streak from April 30-May 8. The second game of that skid was one Hernandez lost at home to the Rangers.