Mariners (71-53) at Rangers (56-70)
Thursday, 7:35 PM: Jeff Weaver (5-10, 5.57) vs. Kameron Loe (6-9, 5.56)
Fresh off the disabled list, Kameron Loe gave the Rangers just what they needed to see en route to by snapping his own three game losing streak with a nice 5-0 shutout victory over the Twins last Saturday. It was the Rangers' fifth shutout of the season and the first since June 14th. But Loe is still just 1-3 with a 6.31 ERA in five starts since the All-Star Break. He's pitched well against the Mariners in his career, owning a 2-1 record and a 3.82 ERA in nine appearances.
Jeff Weaver's 14.32 earned run average and 0-6 record had some researchers believing they were witnesses to the worst start by any pitcher in major-league-baseball history. But his turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous for the Mariners and the 31-year old righthander now finds himself the proud owner of a 3.57 ERA since the start of June. He's also won three straight decisions since opening the season a wretched 2-10. Arlington hasn't been a kind place to Weaver in his career, where he owns a high earned run average of 6.23 in three starts.
Friday, 7:35 PM: Felix Hernandez (9-6, 3.94) vs. Kevin Millwood (8-10, 5.39)
On Friday, Kevin Millwood will climb the hill for the 24th time this season, the most among Texas pitchers. He was the hard-luck loser against the Twins and a dominating Johan Santana last Sunday despite allowing just one run over seven innings in his tenth loss of the year. He's been a shell of the unfathomable disaster he was earlier in the season in July and August, holding the opposition to three runs or less seven times. Millwood owns a 2-3 record and a 4.00 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break, and is 7-4 with a 4.22 ERA in 13 career starts against the Mariners.
Felix Hernandez was bestowed with a Seattle offense that supplied him with 10 runs through just the first three innings. That barrage of runs provided the young righty with plenty of wiggle room, rendering the five runs on 10 hits he allowed in his 6+ innings of work almost painless. The win was his third in a row. In his career against Texas, Hernandez is 2-4 with a 5.44 ERA in eight career starts. He's also another Seattle pitcher who has struggled historically in Arlington, posting a 9.15 ERA and a 1-3 record in four games at the Rangers' home ballpark.
Saturday, 7:35 PM: Horacio Ramirez (8-4, 7.15) vs. Mike Wood (3-1, 4.06)
Thanks to a rainout on Monday and a double-header on Tuesday, Mike Wood finds himself the most likely of three options to start Saturday evening's affair with the Mariners. He's 1-1 with a 5.59 earned run average in four starts this year but 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA in five appearances, including two starts, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers could also decide to pitch Vicente Padilla on three days rest, or could also call someone up from Triple-A if need be.
Horacio Ramirez had been absolutely hammered in his past three starts, giving up 17 runs over the span of 14 innings. But something snapped with him in his last outing, and the southpaw managed to stymie the Minnesota Twins for just his second win on the road this season. His velocity was what really had the Mariners' mouths watering, with a wicked changeup that touched as low as 73 and a fastball that hit the low-90's. The victory brought a little ease to what otherwise has been a troubling season for the off-season trade acquisition, and may have bought him some more time as far as remaining in the starting rotation goes.
Sunday, 7:35 PM: Jarrod Washburn (9-10, 4.11) vs. Vicente Padilla (3-9, 6.55)
If Vicente Padilla doesn't pitch on Saturday, he'll get his shot Sunday night in the series finale. The Orioles ripped him for seven hits and six runs in just five innings of work earlier this week, sending him to his ninth loss of the season. He also looked much rustier than he did in his first start off the disabled list, walking four batters while striking out none. He's 0-2 with an 11.00 ERA in two starts against the Mariners this year and 1-5 with a 7.07 ERA against them in his career.
Jarrod Washburn faced the minimum of 15 batters over the first five innings in his start against the Twins on Tuesday and left after six innings with a one-run lead. He picked up the win, snapping his own personal three-game losing skid and entering the "W" column for the first time since the start of the Pacific Northwest Summer (or July 4th, for everybody else). Although his record doesn't necessarily indicate it, Washburn pennant race prowess as an Angel in 2002 is one of the main reasons why the Mariners have caught fire in the month August.
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