Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.
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 Rangers couldn't handle the Mariners last week, but they now go to Seattle to face a limping Mariners team.
Past 2013 Meetings: The Rangers are 9-7 against Seattle this year but enter this final meeting of the season coming off two dropped series to the Mariners.
Pitching Matchups: Monday — Travis Blackley (1-1, 4.85 ERA) vs. Joe Saunders (10-12, 4.91); Tuesday — Derek Holland (9-6, 2.95) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.98); Wednesday — Martin Perez (7-3, 3.62) vs. Felix Hernandez (12-7, 2.63).
What's Hot: Ian Kinsler is warming up again at the plate after a cool stretch and is hitting .364 over the last six games with a homer and a team-high six RBIs. Of course, as we've mentioned before, there's always a spot here for Adrian Beltre, and A.J. Pierzynski is hitting .350 over that stretch with two doubles, a homer and five RBIs. The bullpen fivesome of Neal Cotts, Joe Nathan, Robbie Ross, Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor has worked a combined 11 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run on just five hits.
The Mariners don't have much in the way of hot hitters right now, with Dustin Ackley leading the way over the past week with a .333 average, a homer and an RBI. Michael Saunders and Brad Miller are the only other Seattle regulars hitting better than .300 in the last week. Neither Hernandez nor Iwakuma have been lights out in their last outings. But Iwakuma has owned the Rangers this year and Hernandez traditionally owns the Rangers in Seattle — not so much in Texas.
What's Not: Tanner Scheppers has been really, really spare with the exception of one fantastic performance against Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago. Ever since the mystery "fight" in Cleveland, he's hit the skids and has a 11.57 ERA over the last week. Same ol', same ol' at the plate as David Murphy and Jurickson Profar continue to struggle at the plate.
Kyle Seager, who has been the biggest of Rangers killers this year is in a slump at the moment at 2-for-23 in his last six games. Same goes for another Ranger killer, Justin Smoak, who is hitting .091 in that same span.
Familiar Faces: Adrian Beltre spent what was probably the worst run of his career in Seattle, where he was eaten up by the pitcher-friendly Safeco Field and was accused of having a bad attitude. Of course, we know better than that. Justin Smoak, who's been hot as of late, was the big prospect the Rangers sent to Seattle in return for Cliff Lee back in 2010. The rest is history. Blackley makes his second start as a Ranger against another of his former teams after facing the Astros his last time out. Blackley started six games as a rookie for the Mariners back in 2004.