July 12, 2024

After a unique stretch of scheduling by Major League Baseball, which saw the Seattle Mariners face primarily National League teams in 12 of their last 15 games, they are finally set to take on a familiar opponent from their own division: the reigning World Series champions, the Texas Rangers. Sitting at the top of the American League West with a 12-11 record, the Rangers present a formidable challenge for the 11-11 Mariners, who trail them by just half a game. The series kicks off at Globe Life Field with three games scheduled starting Tuesday evening.

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Unlike previous seasons where the Mariners’ leadership vocally aimed for divisional success, this year’s approach has been more measured. While acknowledging roster improvements, manager Scott Servais and his players maintain that winning the division remains a tangible goal. Despite feeling they fell short last season, the Mariners recognize the Rangers as a significant obstacle, having lost nine of 13 matchups in the previous season, including a sweep in Arlington. However, Seattle believes they’re better prepared to compete this year and understand that overcoming Texas is crucial to their divisional aspirations.

Both teams enter the series with challenges in their lineup and pitching staff. The Rangers are dealing with injuries to key pitchers like Max Scherzer, Jacob de Grom, and Tyler Mahle, along with third baseman Josh Jung. The matchup highlights the Mariners’ strong pitching against the Rangers’ potent offense, with Texas averaging nearly five runs per game compared to Seattle’s slower offensive start. The Mariners’ pitching staff boasts an impressive 3.48 ERA this season, with recent performances showcasing their dominance, allowing just 15 runs in the last 10 games.

As the series unfolds, the age-old question of whether good pitching prevails over good hitting will be tested once again. Here are three key aspects to keep an eye on during the upcoming games.

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Can the Mariners’ recent patience at the plate get them into Texas’ beat up bullpen?

The Mariners have recently found success at the plate by adopting a patient approach against opposing starting pitchers, driving up pitch counts and forcing early exits. This strategy has allowed them to capitalize on opportunities against middle relievers, leading to a surge in offensive production.

In their last six games, Seattle has scored 35 runs while boasting an impressive slash line of .291/.389/.461. They’ve demonstrated discipline at the plate with 32 walks compared to 54 strikeouts during this span. Additionally, they’ve managed to chase four of the six opposing starters out of the game before completing the fifth inning.

For Seattle, getting to the Rangers’ bullpen could be pivotal, especially considering the signs of struggle reminiscent of late last season. The Rangers’ relievers have collectively posted a 4.86 ERA this season and have faced challenges in closing out games. Unlike their championship-winning campaign in 2023, where they heavily relied on a select few relievers to secure victories, the Rangers’ bullpen depth has been tested in the regular season. This vulnerability presents an opportunity for the Mariners to exploit as they seek to maintain their offensive momentum against Texas.

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