The Texas Rangers took an important step toward securing their second straight division crown by bouncing back from a rare shutout.
A matchup with Felix Hernandez(notes) wouldn’t appear likely to help the Rangers move closer to clinching that title, but they’ve proved more successful against the Seattle Mariners ace than any other team in his career.
Texas will try to reduce its magic number by beating Hernandez for the third time this season in Sunday’s series finale at Safeco Field.
The Rangers (87-65) were blanked for the eighth time in 2011 during Friday’s opener of a three-game set. After producing four hits in that 4-0 loss, Texas responded with 14 on Saturday while rallying from an early three-run deficit and holding on for a 7-6 win.
The Rangers’ first win in three one-run games this month helped them take advantage of Los Angeles’ loss in Baltimore and increase their AL West lead to 4 1/2 games. Josh Hamilton(notes) led the way with four hits, including his fourth homer in five games, and three RBIs.
“It was nice to get back on track,” manager Ron Washington said. “Last night, (Blake) Beavan shut our bats down a little bit. … It’s nice, once they jumped out front, to show what we’re all about and come back and swing the bats.”
Washington’s hitters would seem to have a challenge with Hernandez having gone 6-3 with a 2.89 ERA in his last nine starts. Texas, though, has claimed a pair of four-run wins in games against the right-hander this season.
Hernandez (14-12, 3.30 ERA) is 10-14 all-time against the Rangers and hasn’t suffered double-digit losses to any other club. He’s also 2-5 with a 4.34 ERA in his last seven starts against Texas and is coming off a difficult outing.
The right-hander gave up five runs in the fourth inning Monday en route to a 9-3 loss to visiting New York, ending his three-game win streak.
“In that (fourth) inning, I just made a couple mistakes and got hit,” Hernandez said.
Matt Harrison(notes) (12-9, 3.56), meanwhile, has won back-to-back outings since having his turn in the rotation skipped last month. He gave up three runs over five-plus innings Tuesday during a 10-4 win over Cleveland in his first start in nine days.
“I felt good out of the chute and was throwing fine. But I started getting behind hitters, throwing too many pitches, and I made a couple of mistakes,” he told the team’s official website. “I wish I could have gone deeper in the game, especially after the way I started.”
Harrison might get his wish in this game as he’s 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA in his last five starts against Seattle (63-88) while pitching at least six innings in each. He’s also 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA in two matchups this season and allowed one run over 7 2-3 innings during a 3-1 win at Safeco on July 17.