Mariners-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers got by without an ill Josh Hamilton in their series opener with the Seattle Mariners.

Given his history against scheduled Mariners starter Jason Vargas, the slugger might get another day off regardless of how he feels.

The Rangers try to extend their winning streak to five games Tuesday night against Vargas and the visiting Mariners, who are in the midst of a five-game skid.

Hamilton sat out Monday's 4-2 victory with what the Rangers (31-18) called an upper respiratory problem. The 2010 AL MVP, who leads the majors with 20 homers and 53 RBIs, said he started feeling badly during a series in Houston from May 18-20, decided he needed to take a break after spending more than 17 hours in bed from Sunday night into Monday afternoon.

"It just seems like it's one of those things that's just going to have to run its course,'' Hamilton said prior to Monday's game. "Obviously I'd like to play no matter what but if I'm running out there and getting dizzy and stuff I probably don't need to do it.''

The Rangers might not want to rush Hamilton back considering he is batting .150 with two solo homers in 20 career at-bats against Vargas (5-4, 3.39), his lowest average against any pitcher he has faced at least 18 times. It's also the lowest batting average of any player with at least 18 at-bats against Vargas.

While Hamilton has had virtually no success against Vargas, several of his teammates have feasted on his pitching.

Michael Young is batting .444 in 27 career at-bats against Vargas, Ian Kinsler is hitting .435 with a homer and four doubles in 23 at-bats and Nelson Cruz has three home runs in 19 at-bats.

Cruz homered for the third time in four games Monday and Mike Napoli hit a three-run homer in the sixth to break a 1-all tie. Napoli has homered in back-to-back games after going 24 contests without one.

The Rangers have reeled off four straight victories since dropping two of three in Seattle last week.

The Mariners (21-30) haven't enjoyed the same results since beating Texas 5-3 last Wednesday, totaling 11 runs and 25 hits while losing five straight.

Ichiro Suzuki is batting .150 in 20 at-bats during the skid, while Alex Liddi has gone 1 for 14 with 10 strikeouts. Liddi delivered the big hit in Seattle's last win, a grand slam off Scott Feldman (0-2, 4.66). He is 4 for 5 lifetime against Feldman, who is scheduled to make his second start Tuesday in place of the injured Neftali Feliz (elbow inflammation).

Feldman permitted five runs, three hits and a career-high tying five walks in 4 1-3 innings last week at Safeco Field. He exited after Liddi's homer, marking the third time in as many starts this season that the right-hander failed to get through five innings.

Vargas, meanwhile, has pitched at least six innings in 10 of his 11 starts in 2012.

He went seven innings Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels, yielding three runs and seven hits while striking out seven, but didn't get any help from his offense and was saddled with a 3-0 loss. The left-hander has received two runs or fewer of support in five of his last six outings.

This will be Vargas' second start of the season against the Rangers. He gave up four runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 loss April 12 in Arlington.

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