Seattle Mariners vs Texas Rangers Preview: AL West April Showdown

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Seattle Mariners vs Texas Rangers Preview: AL West April Showdown
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Mariners and Rangers both opened the season with winning a series and are now ready to lock up for the first time in 2011.

While Seattle took two out of three from division rival Oakland, Texas swept the consensus favorite to win the American League, the Boston Red Sox.

In the series, Texas hit 11 home runs, which tops the production of nine other MLB teams combined. They got home runs in all three games by Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler, which is the first set of teammates to pull off such a feat in the first three games of a season.

What does this tell us that we didn't already know? Not a lot. The Rangers can flat out hit, especially at home. If you're into drawing conclusions from small samples, you'll find that losing Cliff Lee hasn't been that rough on the Rangers.

Here's a look at how each team ranks coming into the series:

  Mariners Rangers
Record: 2-1 3-0
GB: 1  
Streak: L1 W3
Last 10: 2-1 3-0
Run Diff: +1 +15

Using 2010 and minor league stats, here are the pitching matchups.

Monday, April 4

  Erik Bedard (L) Derek Holland (L)
W-L   3-4
ERA   4.08
xFIP   4.21
K/9   8.48
BB/9   3.77

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Erik Bedard didn't pitch in 2010 as we all are so painfully aware. However, he signed a nice club-friendly contract and had a nice spring. It was just nice because the stats and velocity looked all sparkly, but because there was no reported pain.

Derek Holland is a left-hander. The Mariners face left-handers as if they're the green pigs in Angry Birds. They don't like them, and they don't do well against them. If the Mariners are to win this game, they'll need their left-handed and switch-hitting bats that do poorly against lefties to pick it up.

Tuesday, April 5

  Michael Pineda Alexi Ogando
W-L  11-4 4-1
ERA  3.49 1.30
xFIP   3.69
K/9  10.03 8.42
BB/9  2.22 3.46

Michael Pineda making the team wasn't a huge surprise, as most people figured early on that all he'd have to do is pitch like he had been to make the squad. While I still contend that some more time working on his secondary stuff in Tacoma would have done his long-term success well, and making his major-league debut in Texas is as close to baptism by fire as you can get, he's one of the team's five best starters. So here he is.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Alexi Ogando was a reliever last season, so his numbers probably aren't representative of what we'll see from him this season. He started three games in Double-A last season before a promotion to Triple-A and eventually the majors as a reliever. The Mariners should have a decent chance to hit well against him down in Arlington.

Wednesday, April 6

  Felix Hernandez C.J. Wilson (L)
W-L  13-12 15-8
ERA  2.27 3.35
xFIP  3.87 4.06
K/9  8.4 7.50
BB/9  2.5 4.10

Felix Hernandez won a Cy Young award last season. He's pretty good.

C.J. Wilson is another lefty, so the Mariners offense will probably struggle against him. Wilson doesn't strike out a ton of batters, and he will walk some. The Mariners have drawn a fair number of walks to start the season this year, and they will need to do more of that against Wilson and hope a timely hit follows. They'll need to score at least three runs off Wilson with Felix on the mound for me not to have flashbacks of the poor offensive support the King got all last year. Four or five would be really swell.

Overall Outlook

Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Mariners snuck out of Oakland winning two of three from a team that is most certainly better than it is. Granted, one win looked deserved and the other came with Felix on the bump, so they went in with a good shot to win anyhow.

The M's head into Texas facing a team that is red hot out of the gates. If the Rangers hit and score like they did against Boston, the Mariners probably don't have a shot of winning more than one game unless Larry Bernandez pitches in one of the games not being started by Felix.

If you want optimism though, these are the best three starters the Mariners have when you consider upside. Bedard is pain free and Pineda has the talent to be good. The M's will want to get on the board early on Tuesday to knock Ogando out. That seems like the most likely game for them to win heading into Felix's start on Wednesday seeking a series win.

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