To Become a Playoff Team, Rangers Must First Solve Seattle Riddle

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We were all giddy when the Rangers traded for ace Cole Hamels. It’s time for our enthusiasm to be rewarded. And it’s past time for the Rangers to beat the Mariners.

Since Hamels’ arrival from Philadelphia they’ve lost both games he’s started. One was against Seattle, which has inexplicably baffled them this season. The Rangers are 2-7 against the Mariners and 57-50 against the rest of the league.

For a team in the thick of the hunt for post-season baseball – four games out of the AL West lead and only one back in the AL Wild Card – winnable games need to be, well, wins.

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After missing a start with a sore groin, Hamels takes the ball tonight. He’s a better pitcher than Taijuan Walker, and the Rangers are a better team than the Mariners.

For the season the Mariners have only outscored the Rangers, 36-34. Very misleading, because one of Texas’ two wins was an 11-3 rout. Seven of the nine games have been decided by two or fewer runs. In those games the Rangers are an ugly 1-6, getting held to three runs or less in their six losses.

Bottom line: The Mariners have made the Rangers play tight, low-scoring games. And beat them almost every time.

Maddening. And difficult to explain.

The Rangers are hot, sweeping the Rays over the weekend and having won four in-a-row. The Mariners are eight games under .500 and going nowhere fast. Sure Tuesday they’ll face Hisashi Iwakuma, fresh off his no-hitter against the Orioles. And yes Nelson Cruz will likely haunt his former team again with a homer or two.

But with the luxury of missing Felix Hernandez, the Rangers should take two of three against Seattle at the very least.

Because if they can’t consistently beat the bad teams, it’ll be impossible to call the Rangers a good team.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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