Monday, June 7, 2010

MARINERS: @ Texas Rangers Series Preview (June 7 - 10)

If your grandparents never told you before, I’m telling you now: Baseball is a game of streaks. Sometimes they’re good, and sometimes they stink. Sometimes they’re short, and sometimes they could last long enough to impact an entire season. Right now the Mariners are experiencing that first hand, after winning three in a row against the AL Central-leading Twins and then getting swept by the Angels to complete the home-stand.

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Frankly, the M’s didn’t just “get swept,” they were absolutely thwarted and embarrassed via their bullpen futility. After averaging a little over 2 runs a game this past weekend, the biggest disappointment came from Run Prevention department (pitching and defense). Did anybody else see that painfully easy line-drive Tuiasosopo booted after replacing Chone Figgins at second yesterday afternoon? I thought I was day-dreaming, but no.

Moving forward, Seattle travels to Arlington to face the division-rival Texas Rangers for a four-game series. Every in-division series is crucial, but each one from here on out will be of the utmost importance to prevent the M’s from falling any further into the basement then they already are. This is the biggest chance for the Mariners to prove that they’re worthy of discussion for postseason play and making a move towards a division title. Or else we’re holding the biggest fire sale in the league coming July.

The good news is that Cliff Lee (3-2, 2.91) takes the mound tonight against RHP Scott Feldman (3-5, 5.82) who’s been literally off-and-on for the Rangers over the past month. Feldman’s last start earned him an ugly win in Chicago against the White Sox, and looks to perform better for the home fans at the Ballpark in Arlington. Cliff Lee, on the other hand, has been solid in nearly each start this season for the M’s, whose biggest opponent has been Mariners’ run support.

Tomorrow night is Felix day (3-4, 3.26), who faces off against journeyman Colby Lewis (4-4, 3.62) who hasn’t won a game since May 21st in a game against the Cubs in interleague play, which was his only win in his last 5 starts. Lewis took care of the Mariners back in April, so expect him to bounce back and make an intimidating performance come Tuesday evening.

In other news, Doug Fister was placed on the 15-day DL due to shoulder fatigue. Fister was on pace to record an unreal 274 innings for the season, and it comes as no surprise that he needs a break. Unfortunately for fans, the M’s need one of their best young pitchers to help them claw back in the standings, but anyone would tell you that it would be much more prudent to reserve Fister in the latter months of the season when he’s healthy in order to contend.

Likewise, DH Mike Sweeney has been experiencing discomfort in his back and has been placed on the DL, and will be “replaced” by Milton Bradley in the DH-role. 1B Mike Carp has been called up from AAA Tacoma to replace Sweeney’s roster spot, and will be in the lineup tonight. Bradley is expected to bat second behind Ichiro in the batting lineup, which is secondary to an even bigger lineup shift for tonight …

After getting ejected from Sunday’s game and exuding his frustration for the first time this season (maybe for the first time in his career), Chone Figgins is expected to be slotted in the 9-spot of tonight’s lineup. As much as the move isn’t a reflection of Figgins inability to produce offensively, he proves to be an essential commodity to be “in front” of Ichiro. Given the fact that Ichiro has been virtually unstoppable in recent weeks, it makes sense that we utilize Figgins’ OBP and mover him around the horn and increase his run total. Not to mention, the pitch quality Figgins will receive with Ichiro behind him could increase his BB more so than it already is.

Reach Jacob Kehle at