Sunday afternoon is the last time the Rangers will play the Seattle Mariners in the 2012 baseball season. No more games on the schedule against a team you see so often provides a sudden realization that this season is nearing a pre-postseason conclusion. These kinds of things always leave me reflecting on duration.
Granted, I, like every Rangers fan, have been waiting for October again since the night of Friday, October 28, 2011. And though this season has been trying for reasons beyond those that any Ranger fan might have ever expected--with 162 games in 180 days between us and an attempt at a satisfying conclusion--knowing the Rangers will embark on their final series with the Mariners really drives home the fact that the waiting game nears its end.
It's an interesting juxtaposition. There's a real opportunity in savoring a team currently three games better than any other team in the entire American League. There was a period of time when Josh Hamilton looked like Mickey Mantle. Adrian Beltre is in a stretch where he's been one of the two or three best players in the league. Elvis Andrus has vaulted into the upper-echelon of shortstops in baseball. Yu Darvish has put together a string of outings that rivals the best we've seen from just about anyone wearing a Texas Rangers uniform over the course of a month and a half. Darvish's overall body of work this season is now something just shy of incredible only because of a mid-season increment where he was as human as humanity allows.
It's probably the Mariners that have me meditating on a regular season we never really wanted to have to suffer because, with them erased from the schedule, that's one A.L. West team down. Two to go, both figuratively and literally. Yu Darvish's first career start was against the Mariners. Neftali Feliz threw perhaps his best start of the season in his first start as a Texas Ranger against the Mariners in the first week of the season. The next night, Joe Nathan blew a save against the Mariners and lost the game. People were calling for Joe Nathan's head. Joe Nathan didn't blow another save until a week ago. 156 days between blemishes.
With this series--the end of the docket against one of our division mates--we've reached yet another mile marker for where we've wanted to be. Mainly, to be done with the string, as fine a string as it has been.
Sunday, September 23 3:10: LHP Jason Vargas vs. RHP Ryan Dempster
Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the City of Goodwill Seattle Mariners:
- Martin Perez: 1-1, 5.52 K/9, 3.38 BB/9, .274 BABIP, 76.7% LOB, 4.54 FIP, 4.80 xFIP, 0.3 WAR - Last three appearances: 2 runs allowed in 9.1 innings
- Hisashi Iwakuma: 6-5, 7.36 K/9, 3.55 BB/9, .273 BABIP, 81.8% LOB, 4.69 FIP, 3.92 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last three starts: 6 runs allowed in 16.1 innings
Advantage: Martin Perez was born in April of 1991. I remember being at the hospital when my cousin was born in April of 1991. My cousin isn't Martin Perez but being able to so distinctly remember a point in time that now spans Martin's Perez's entire existence blows my mind. Martin Perez has started games this season for the Rangers but they were basically emergency starts due to injuries in June/July. Perez starts now for performance based reasons. In September 2012, the Rangers feel Perez is one of the five people who gives them the best opportunity to win games. It very well could be that, from here on out, Perez doesn't leave the rotation for a long, long time. Hisashi Iwakuma season has been nothing to write home about, however. People are too busy reading about Yu Darvish.
- Matt Harrison: 17-9, 5.59 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, .285 BABIP, 77.7% LOB, 3.91 FIP, 4.10 xFIP, 3.7 WAR - Last three starts: 6 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
- Blake Beavan: 9-10, 4.27 K/9, 1.36 BB/9, .284 BABIP, 71.1% LOB, 4.87 FIP, 4.92 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last three starts (Three total starts since July 27): 7 runs allowed in 19.1 innings
Advantage: Matt Harrison in A Shocker on Shock Street has a career 10-1 record against Seattle with a 2.14 ERA in 17 career appearances (which is also by far the most appearances facing one team for Harrison) against the Mariners. That's some straight Trevor Cahill versus Texas domination. Therefore, Harrison over Blake Beavan who is pretty much the definition of not good. Though, it is worth noting that Beavan has a career 2.91 ERA against the Rangers and his 34.0 innings pitched against Texas is also the most against one team in his career. This could be because he actually pitches well against Texas and therefore is allowed to stay in games. Oh to have a change-up and face Texas.
- Ryan Dempster: 11-7, 7.71 K/9, 2.63 BB/9, .269 BABIP, 76.1% LOB, 3.54 FIP, 3.78 xFIP, 3.3 WAR - Last three starts: 9 runs allowed in 16.1 innings
- Jason Vargas: 14-10, 5.77 K/9, 2.33 BB/9, .253 BABIP, 77.9% LOB, 4.74 FIP, 4.44 xFIP, 0.6 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 19.2 innings
Advantage: Ryan Dempster being thankful he doesn't have to face the Anaheim Angels this go-round over Jason Vargas has the most wins/highest innings pitched/lowest walk rate/highest ground ball rate of his career and has still turned in maybe his worst season as a Mariner. He also always looks pretty bummed out.
That's Jason Vargas smiling.
Seattle Mariners (70-80, 4th Place in AL West)
Rangers Record vs. Seattle: 9-7 (3-3 at Safeco Field)
Seattle's Recent Results: 0-3 swept in home series against the Baltimore Orioles
Seattle's Home Record: 36-39
Safeco Field Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 89/67 - Runs: 82/80
SB Nation Mariners Blog: Lookout Landing
|Match-up: (as of 09/21)||Rangers||Mariners||Advantage|
|Batting (RAR)||54.0 (6th)||-80.8 (28th)||Rangers|
|Base Running (RAR)||6.8 (4th)||-3.7 (25th)||Rangers|
|Bullpen (RAR)||50.5 (8th)||29.3 (16th)||Rangers|
|Defense (UZR)||22.5 (5th)||38.5 (3rd)||Mariners|
|Overall (UZR + RAR)||201.4||-6.6||Rangers|
Questions to Answer:
- Which of these match-ups is the more guaranteed victory: Matt Harrison vs. Seattle or Trevor Cahill vs. Texas?
- Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Jurickson Profar. Why not?)
- Over/Under: 2.5 instances of train footage aired during this series? (Keep in mind, tonight's game is on TXA so who knows if they can afford the train footage.)
- What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by thorn-in-side Blake Beavan in his second start against Texas in a week on Saturday?
- Are you secretly a little bummed that we won't get to see Felix Hernandez one last time in 2012?