After being hit hard in a pair of interleague starts, Felix Hernandez gets to face a familiar opponent he's handled well this season.
Hernandez can become the AL's first 14-game winner when the Seattle Mariners ace takes on the resurgent Texas Rangers on Sunday at Safeco Field.
Matchups against NL West inhabitants Arizona and Colorado proved formidable for Hernandez (13-6, 3.13 ERA), though he managed to earn win No. 13 Monday despite surrendering four runs and 11 hits over 6 2-3 innings in an 8-7 road triumph over the Rockies. The All-Star was reached for a season-high 12 hits and seven runs in losing to the Diamondbacks on July 29 in Seattle.
"He's done that time and time again for us, when we've needed a big win, particularly when he's come off a tough start," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB's official website. "He's more determined than ever."
Hernandez has fared far better within the division, going 6-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 starts. He has a 1.98 ERA in winning each of his two starts against the Rangers, including a 3-1 decision at Safeco Field on April 18, when he struck out 12 in seven innings while yielding a run and two hits.
Prince Fielder is 0 for 17 versus Hernandez and Josh Hamilton is hitting .169 with 21 strikeouts in 65 at-bats in the matchup. Texas has had plenty of success in the past against the right-hander, though, as Hernandez is 14-21 - by far his most losses to one opponent - with a 3.92 ERA in 44 career starts.
The Rangers' bats did plenty of damage late in Saturday's game, scoring eight 11th-inning runs and opening the frame with seven consecutive hits en route to an 11-3 victory for their eighth win in 10 games. Fielder capped the barrage with a two-run homer and finished with three RBIs to help Texas (55-54) halt a six-game series losing streak.
''Sometimes that happens where the whole team gets hot, puts good swings on the ball and gets hits,'' Fielder said.
Mike Napoli started at first base for the Rangers a day after being acquired from Boston, going 0 for 2 with a walk.
Nelson Cruz went 2 for 4 for Seattle (51-60) to extend his MLB-best hitting streak to 18 games. The All-Star slugger is batting .425 with 11 home runs and 15 RBI during the tear and is hitting .471 with four homers in eight season meetings with the Rangers.
Cruz is 2 for 8 lifetime off Colby Lewis (12-4, 4.68), who enters the finale having won four consecutive starts while often backed by strong run support. That was the case in Lewis' last outing, when he allowed seven runs and three homers in six innings during Monday's 12-9 decision over Houston.
Lewis is 8-1 over his past 12 starts and has won four straight on the road while posting a 2.48 ERA. He allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings when facing Hernandez on April 18, however.
Several Mariners have fared well against Lewis. Robinson Cano is 7 for 15, Kyle Seager is 10 for 23 with two homers and Austin Jackson has gone 13 for 31 with a home run.
Cano has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games and is batting .342 with six homers and 20 RBI since the All-Star break.