The left-hander looks to improve to 10-0 in his career at Safeco Field and help the Seattle Mariners end a six-game losing streak Friday night when he faces a Rangers team that has fared well against southpaws.
Saunders (3-4, 5.64 ERA) is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in four home starts and 0-4 with an 11.25 ERA in five on the road.
“This is just kind of a fluky thing,” said Saunders after allowing four runs over 5 1-3 innings and not receiving a decision in Saturday’s 5-4 defeat at Cleveland.
Saunders owns a 1.72 career ERA at Safeco Field in 13 outings, with the first nine coming as a visitor.
The Rangers (30-17) are 11-5 when facing left-handed starters. Saunders is 3-1 with a 2.41 ERA in six career home starts against them and 0-7 with a 9.91 ERA in seven on the road in the regular season.
Saunders also earned a 5-1 win at Texas last year for Baltimore in the AL wild-card playoff game. This season, he gave up one unearned run over seven innings in a 3-1 home loss April 13 before allowing seven over 4 2-3 six days later in a 7-0 road defeat.
Texas will see a lefty starter for the first time in 12 games, and Jeff Baker is expected to be in the lineup as a result. The infielder, who bats .344 against left-handers and homered off Saunders earlier this year, started against a right-hander for the first time Wednesday in a 3-1 victory at Oakland.
“That’s part of baseball and the way it works sometimes,” Baker told the Rangers’ official website. “Sometimes it rains lefties and sometimes it doesn’t.”
These clubs split four games at Safeco in April before the Rangers outscored the Mariners 23-3 in a three-game home sweep.
Seager is 2 for 6 this year against Texas rookie Justin Grimm (3-3, 4.02), who faces the Mariners again after going 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two 2013 starts against them.
“It means they’ve seen me twice and I’ve seen them a couple of times,” the right-hander said. “At the end of the day, it’s about attacking hitters, being aggressive and executing pitches.”
Grimm owns a 5.14 road ERA as opposed to 2.79 at home.
Mariners veterans initiated a closed-door clubhouse meeting after Wednesday’s 7-1 loss to the Angels on the heels of a 12-0 defeat the day before.
“We just felt that it was a good time for it. It was a necessary thing to do,” said outfielder Raul Ibanez who is 3 for 20 against Texas. “It’s important to remember all the good stuff that’s happened with us.”