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Mariners look to Chris Flexen vs. Rangers, aim to start new streak

Sportsnaut
Jul 13, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Chris Flexen (77) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After roaring into the All-Star break with 14 consecutive wins, the Seattle Mariners received a dose of Texas-sized reality.

The Houston Astros never trailed en route to a three-game sweep that stopped Seattle’s roll.

But there are two reasons to believe the Mariners might get back into the win column when they start a three-game series Monday night against the Texas Rangers in Seattle.

First, the Mariners might get injured All-Star Julio Rodriguez (left wrist) back in the lineup. Rodriguez, who sat out all three games against Houston, is hitting .275 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs. An MRI revealed no structural damage in the wrist, and manager Scott Servais said Rodriguez should be able to avoid a stint on the injured list.

Secondly, Seattle has Chris Flexen (6-8, 3.79 ERA) taking the mound for the series opener. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.52 ERA in six career starts against Texas, holding the Rangers to a .225 average and a .646 OPS.

Servais and his team could use something good after getting swept by the defending American League champions, who remain among baseball’s top teams.

“You have to wash this one, you really do,” Servais said. “If you get caught up all the time looking back, you never can move forward. We’re moving forward. That’s how this team is wired.”

Despite the sweep, the Mariners remain in control of the American League’s third and final wild-card spot, two games clear of fourth-place Cleveland.

Three other teams — Chicago, Boston and surprising Baltimore — lurk between three and 3 1/2 games behind.

Texas is seven games behind Seattle after it held on for an 11-8 win Sunday in Oakland. The Rangers avoided a series sweep behind another excellent performance from Martin Perez and huge games from Adolis Garcia and Jonah Heim.

Perez (8-2) continued the best season of his career with a four-hit, one-run outing over seven innings, lowering his ERA to 2.59. His previous career-low ERA was 3.62 in 2013, his second big league season.

Garcia went 4-for-4 with three RBI and his 17th homer of the year, while Heim ripped three doubles and scored three runs to up his average to .270 — 74 points better than his mark in 82 games for Texas last year.

The Rangers will turn to right-hander Glenn Otto (4-6, 5.40) on Monday in an effort to win consecutive games. Otto has faced the Mariners twice in his short career, both in the last seven weeks.

He posted a win on June 4 and lost on July 17 despite a quality start, allowing five hits and three runs in six innings with a walk and four strikeouts.

Texas manager Chris Woodward hopes his team can make a run over the season’s final 68 games.

“I’m just looking to see the fight that we have,” he said. “This group is a group that can be pushed. I have high expectations for us. I think everything that we do has to be about whatever it takes to win.”

Seattle has won eight of the teams’ 10 meetings this year, including two of three in their only series at T-Mobile Park in April.

–Field Level Media