Series Preview: Texas Rangers

As bad as the Seattle Mariners have been since early June, they still hold a 20-game lead over the Texas Rangers, which will start a four-game series at Safeco Field on Friday night. Seattle will look to get back on track against the Rangers in hopes of finding the momentum they had during the first two months of the season.

Safeco Field, Seattle, Wash.

Texas Rangers (41-60 overall, 17-32 away)
Seattle Mariners (61-40 overall, 28-21 at home)

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Friday, July 25, 7:05 p.m. UPN
Seattle: LHP Jamie Moyer (12-5, 3.24)
Texas: RHP Robert Ellis (0-0, 0.00)

Saturday, July 26, 1:05 p.m. No TV
Seattle: RHP Joel Pineiro (11-5, 3.38)
Texas: RHP R.A. Dickey (4-5, 4.94)

Sunday, July 27, 1:05 p.m. FSN
Seattle: RHP Freddy Garcia (9-9, 5.05)
Texas: RHP John Thompson (7-10, 5.58)

Monday, July 28, 7:05 p.m. FSN
Seattle: Ryan Franklin (7-8, 3.50)
Texas: Ismael Valdes (7-7, 6.27)

The Big Picture:
The Mariners welcome back ex-Mariner, Alex Rodriguez, and his band of over-priced, underachieving Texas Rangers on Friday night for a three-game set. While Rodriguez has put up spectacular numbers over the past two seasons, almost justifying his $250 million price-tag, the Rangers remain the worst team in the American League West. Sure, they can mash with anyone, but their pitching is as impotent as Rafael Palmeiro without his Viagra. Help was supposed to come from high-profile free-agent, Chan Ho Park, but he went bust before going on the disabled early in the season, where he'll probably stay for the rest of the year. With the season already in the tank, the Rangers have been trying to move everyone except for Rodriguez and fellow all-star, Hank Blalock, the hero in this year's mid-summer classic. They've already traded all-star, Carl Everett (White Sox) and closer Ugueth Urbina (Marlins) and the fire sale continues. They want desperately to move Juan Gonzalez, but he refused a trade to the Expos, where he would have had a chance to play in his native Puerto Rico. Juan Gone probably will remain on Texas' roster, especially now that he's on the disabled list.

The Mariners are struggling (3-5 since the break) and a weekend series with the pitching-poor Rangers looks like the perfect medicine. Texas has helped plenty of teams break out of lengthy offensive slumps during the season...The typically friendly fans at Safeco have booed international superstar, A-Rod, with seething abandon every time he has returned to the Emerald City. Maybe if he dyed his hair a la Sweet Lou Piniella, the Mariner faithful might give him a break...Carlos Guillen is back at shortstop after sitting for two weeks with a strained abdominal muscle...Closer Kaz Sasaki is eyeing an early August return to the bullpen.

TEXAS

WHO'S HOT?
Juan Gonzalez (6 HR, 18 RBI in July) was tearing it up despite trade rumors until going to the bench with a strained calf muscle...2B Michael Young (.330 in July)...Doug Glanville is hitting .444 in his last 16 games.

WHO'S NOT
A-Rod (.257 in July). Though still impressive, his numbers are down from the last two years - two and a half years of losing will do that to even the prettiest superstar...The entire rangers pitching staff.

SEATTLE

WHO'S HOT?
No one, with the exception of maybe Randy Winn (.324 in July), who has three home runs since the break after hitting only two in entire first half...Ryan Franklin pitched his first-career shutout, a two-hitter against the A's on Wednesday.

WHO'S NOT?
Everyone except for Ichiro, Winn and Franklin...Jeff Cirillo added injury to insult, going on the disabled list Friday after a two-month long slump has caused his average to dip down to the .210 range. Ouch, that hurts.

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