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Jun 15, 2024 8:16 am

Mariners aim to put ‘points on the board’ in rematch vs. Rangers

Mitch Garver

A look at the Seattle Mariners’ lineup in Friday night’s 3-2 win over the visiting Texas Rangers doesn’t exactly reveal the return of Murderers’ Row.

The Mariners are 28th in the majors in batting average (.221), tied for 25th in on-base percentage (.299), and 24th in runs (276).

Seattle will look to squeeze out enough runs on Saturday in the second contest of a three-game series vs. Texas.

“We play a lot of close games,” designated hitter Mitch Garver said of the Mariners, who are 17-7 in one-run games this season and have won five of their past six games overall. “But our pitching helps with that. And lately, I think we’ve been doing a better job of putting points on the board.”

Seattle’s success has everything to do with power. The one thing the team has done well offensively is hit the ball out of the park, ranking seventh in MLB with 78 homers. And the pitching staff leads the majors in WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) at 1.07 while ranking second in batting average against (.216) and sixth in earned run average (3.46).

All those components were on display Friday night. Garver cracked a two-run homer to erase a quick 2-0 first-inning deficit, while Luis Castillo and three relievers teamed to allow five hits and strike out 11.

The Mariners will try to keep their roll going behind right-hander George Kirby (5-5, 3.81 ERA) on Saturday. He’s coming off a no-decision in Sunday’s 6-5, 10-inning win in Kansas City that saw him cruise through seven innings, allowing one run on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

Kirby has dominated Texas in six career starts, going 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA and allowing only five runs over 35 2/3 innings. Even more impressive is a strikeout-walk ratio of nearly 11-to-1 — 32 strikeouts and just three free passes.

Tasked with keeping pace with Kirby is Rangers veteran right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (3-2, 2.68 ERA), whose last outing was a 7-2 win Sunday over San Francisco. Eovaldi rolled through seven innings, yielding two runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts in a 90-pitch outing.

But Eovaldi has had difficulty for most of his career against Seattle, going 2-2 with a 5.09 ERA in 10 starts and 53 innings. The long ball frequently has hurt him as he’s allowed 10 homers, more than offsetting a good strikeout-walk ratio of better than 4-1.

There was some good news for the Rangers on Friday night as Corey Seager returned to the lineup as a designated hitter, although he went 0-for-3 with a walk to drop his average to .268. Manager Bruce Bochy said Seager might be able to play shortstop again before the series ends on Sunday.

“He came in, passed all the tests, feels good,” Bochy said of Seager. “We thought he’d play today, and sure enough, he’s good to go.”

The other good news for Texas on Friday was that it received 3 1/3 innings out of the bullpen from Jose Urena, allowing it to save its high-leverage short relievers for the series’ last two games.

–Field Level Media

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