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Mariners-Rangers Preview

4/24/2007

If the Seattle Mariners had more matchups with the Texas Rangers, they likely wouldn't be at the bottom of the AL West.

The Mariners look to continue their strong play versus the Rangers as the division rivals conclude their two-game series Tuesday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Seattle (6-9) has recorded half of its wins against Texas (8-11) this season, improving to 3-1 versus the Rangers with a 5-4 victory on Monday. The Mariners took the final two games of their three-game series from April 13-15, but then endured a six-game losing streak during which they were swept by the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels.

Seattle got back on track with Monday's win, spurred by leadoff hitter Ichiro Suzuki, who went 3-for-5 with a three-run triple.

"Ichiro has been struggling in that situation but he was the old Ichiro when we needed him tonight," said Seattle's J.J. Putz, who earned his first save of 2007.

Ichiro is 8-for-18 (.444) against the Rangers this season with five RBIs. Jose Lopez went 3-for-4 with an RBI on Monday as the Mariners reached double digits in hits for the sixth time in eight games.

Jarrod Washburn (0-2, 4.42 ERA) hopes that offense keeps rolling as he tries to avoid losing his third straight start. The left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings while striking out five in Seattle's 6-5 loss to Minnesota on Thursday.

Prior to that, Washburn fell 5-2 to the Rangers on April 13, when he gave up three earned runs and seven hits over six innings. The veteran pitcher is 7-7 with a 4.13 ERA in 24 career games versus Texas.

Washburn is also making his first road start of 2007, where he went a dismal 2-9 with a 5.88 ERA in 16 games last season.

Seattle's rotation took a blow when ace right-hander Felix Hernandez was put on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a muscle strain inside his right elbow and forearm.

The Rangers' bullpen is battling injuries as closer Eric Gagne was placed on the DL with a hip injury on Monday. The right-hander, who signed a one-year, $6 million deal loaded with bonus incentives, hopes he won't be out too long.

"I think in four or five days, I'd be fine," Gagne said before Monday night's game. "But in the American League, you need a full bullpen, so we're not in a situation where we can do that."

Akinori Otsuka, last year's closer, is expected to fill that role again in Gagne's absence, with Joaquin Benoit taking over the eighth-inning slot.

Vicente Padilla (0-3, 6.00) looks for his first win of the season as he takes the mound for Texas on Tuesday. The right-hander allowed a three-run homer and issued a career high-tying six walks without a strikeout over 6 1-3 innings Thursday, but didn't factor into a 6-4 defeat to the Chicago White Sox.

He is 1-4 with a 5.79 ERA in seven career games versus the Mariners, including an 8-3 loss on April 14 when he gave up four earned runs and six hits over six innings.

The Rangers have dropped four of their last six games and are batting just .230, but manager Ron Washington isn't worried.

"We've won eight games and we're not swinging the bats close to what we're capable of doing," he said. "They're trying to do more than what the situation dictates. But it'll click in. Those guys are upset because they care."