Not counting a two-game split against the Milwaukee Brewers and a one-game "sweep" of the Arizona Diamondbacks in a makeup game on Aug. 1, the Texas Rangers have won their last four series — two against the Los Angeles Angels, one against the Houston Astros and one against the rival Oakland A's, and all but the A's series were sweeps in the Rangers' favor.
Winning series is what it's all about in baseball, especially when you're clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead with 41 games to play in the regular season. You're not going to win every game, but if you can win every series, you'll be in great shape.
In order for the Rangers to win this weekend's series against a deceivingly dangerous Seattle Mariners team, they obviously need to win two of three games, but that's a pretty tall order when you look at the pitching matchups.
Sunday's matchup features Yu Darvish against a Mariners pitcher with an ERA over 7.00. Those are the types of games the Rangers expect to win. But the first two of the series tell a much different story.
Hisashi Iwakuma will start Friday's opener, and Saturday will see Felix Hernandez take the mound for the Mariners. Those two have been one of the best 1-2 combinations in baseball this season and the Rangers will need to beat at least one of them.
The Rangers have faced this scenario twice already this season — once in April and once in May — and both times the Rangers beat King Felix while being pretty well contained by Iwakuma, who got a victory and a no-decision in those two starts. Hernandez is 0-2 in the two back-to-back starts by the two. In their last meeting, the Rangers got 11 hits off Hernandez to get the victory, and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has never treated King Felix well.
This makes Friday's game against Iwakuma even larger, as a win by the Rangers could possibly set the Rangers up for another sweep with Oakland heading into a series with a good Cleveland Indians team and a matchup Friday against ace Justin Masterson.