Rangers-Mariners Preview

SEATTLE -- Recent history isn't always the best gauge of baseball success, but the Texas Rangers have to be feeling good about Sunday's pitching matchup in the series finale.

The Rangers will send Cole Hamels (5-1) to the mound against a Seattle starter, Wade Miley, that Texas already roughed up twice this season.

Hamels beat the Mariners on Opening Day, allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings in the Rangers' 3-2 win. Conversely, Miley gave up 11 total runs in two starts against Texas in the opening two weeks of the season.

Working in Seattle's favor is the fact that Miley is coming off one of his better games, having thrown seven shutout innings in a win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.

Hamels is looking for his first win since May 22. His Sunday start could include a milestone. He is two strikeouts from 2,000 in his career -- a number that only 76 pitchers have achieved in major league history.

Hamels is the Rangers' top starter, at least until Texas gets a 100 percent healthy Yu Darvish up and running. Darvish is battling shoulder and neck stiffness and the Rangers announced Saturday that he'll skip his scheduled start Monday in Oakland.

"We just want to make sure he's OK," manager Jeff Banister said without offering a possible replacement.

The Rangers could conceivably make a roster move to bring someone up for Monday's start, but they're already pretty strapped for players with third baseman Adrian Beltre nursing a sore hamstring. Left-handed reliever Cesar Ramos has started three games this season, so he might be an option as well.

The news for Seattle's pitching rotation wasn't as encouraging Saturday. ESPN.com reported staff ace Felix Hernandez could miss up to another month with a strained right calf. Hernandez is eligible to come off the disabled list in the next few days, but he told ESPN that his target is to be activated four to six weeks from the original time he was put on the DL on June 1.

"I felt really bad," Hernandez told ESPN of receiving the news. "All I want to do is pitch with my team."

The Mariners sit four games behind Texas in the American League West standings after Saturday night's loss. Seattle was one strike from closing the gap to two games, but Rangers slugger Prince Fielder sent the game into extra innings with a two-out homer on a full count in the top of the ninth. Two innings later, teammate Rougned Odor added a solo homer of his own for the 2-1 win.

It was a big win for the Rangers, who now have a chance to win their third series from the Mariners.

"We needed this after dropping one (Friday night)," Saturday starter Colby Lewis said.

The Mariners, conversely, might need Sunday's game if they're going to stay in the AL West hunt. Without another chance to play Texas until August, Seattle can't afford to fall five games back.

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