PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 04: Justin Smoak #17 of the Seattle Mariners his a single against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning of the spring training game at Peoria Stadium on March 4, 2011 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Justin Smoak
On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2013 season.
The Opponent: The Seattle Mariners have lost six straight games and are coming off a three-game sweept at the hands of the suddenly surging Los Angeles Angels. They're 10 games back of the first-place Texas Rangers.
Past 2013 Meetings: The Rangers are 5-1 this season against the Mariners with that one loss coming at Safeco Field during the second week of the season.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — Justin Grimm (3-3, 4.02 ERA) vs. Joe Saunders (3-4, 5.64); Saturday — Derek Holland (3-2, 3.30) vs. Felix Hernandez (5-3, 2.07); Sunday — Nick Tepesch (3-4, 3.98) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 2.37)
What's Hot: There isn't a hotter bat for the Rangers right now than the one that belongs to rookie centerfielder Leonys Martin, who's hitting .412 over his last six games and is showing a plus arm in center to make him one of the more promising young players around right now. Adrian Beltre has continued swinging a hot bat, and David Murphy is starting to look alive since moving to the 2-hole with Ian Kinsler's trip to the disabled list that has put Elvis Andrus in the leadoff spot. In the bullpen, Neal Cotts and Robbie Ross have both wowed recently.
The Mariners don't have a lot of offense going for them right now but Brendan Ryan is doing all he can to lift up the Seattle offense as the shortstop is hitting .450 over his last six games and has even shown some power with two doubles and a homer over that time. One of their free-agent acquisiitions from this winter, Kendrys Morales, is also in a good way at the plate, hitting .357 in the middle of the Mariners' order over his last seven games.
What's Not: Nelson Cruz has been in a bad way for a while now, hitting just four times in his previous 25 at-bats with one home run. Mitch Moreland is still playing well, but has obviously come back down to Earth a bit after his ridiculous run that lasted for a few weeks and got him just behind Cruz for the team lead in home runs.
After getting off to blazing stats this season, Kyle Seager and Michael Morse have hit a wall offensively, hitting .208 and .190, respectively, over the last week. In the pitching department, you can see above the dominance of Hernandez and Iwakuma this year, but neither was good in their previous outing against the red-hot Indians, giving up five earned runs apiece in their last respective starts.
Familiar Faces: Former Rangers' top prospect Justin Smoak, who was supposed to be the first baseman of the future and replace Mark Teixeira in Texas was instead dealt to the Mariners for Cliff Lee back in 2010. He's never really figured it out for the Mariners and is hitting .240 this season with three homers. Another former Rangers prospect, Blake Beavan, was also a part of that deal and pitched well at times for Seattle but was recently optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.