The Texas Rangers regrouped with an offensive surge in the series opener, but that could prove difficult to continue facing one of the best pitchers in the AL.
They may not need it if Derek Holland can extend his dominant run against the Seattle Mariners.Holland will try to lead the Rangers to their 11th win in 13 road games Tuesday night when he opposes Hisashi Iwakuma in an intriguing pitching matchup at Safeco Field.A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland homered, Elvis Andrus had three hits and Texas defeated the Mariners 8-3 on Monday. The Rangers (76-55) remained 2 1/2 games up on Oakland in the AL West following the Athletics' win in Detroit.Andrus notched his third straight multihit game, and Alex Rios had two RBIs for the second time in three contests after a 10-game stretch in which he had one.Texas went 4 for 10 with runners in scoring position after going 1 for 14 in those situations over the weekend in consecutive losses to the White Sox.The Rangers, however, may find things a bit more difficult against Iwakuma (12-6, 2.98 ERA), who has held opponents to a .183 average with runners in scoring position. He also ranks in the AL's top 10 in wins, ERA, opponent batting average (.223) and innings (178).Iwakuma has won his last two starts, giving up four runs and 11 hits over 14 innings.The first of those victories came in Texas on Aug. 16, when he allowed one run and four hits while striking out eight over seven innings in a 3-1 win. He's 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA in four starts against the Rangers this season, limiting them to a .179 average."They have a very good lineup and I was just keeping the ball down, trying to miss down and not up if I did miss," Iwakuma told the team's official website through an interpreter. "I was making good pitches when I needed and was able to get out of some jams."Holland (9-6, 2.95) actually outpitched Iwakuma in that game, giving up two hits in seven scoreless innings. He has a 1.67 ERA in his last four starts but only one win in that span.The left-hander has been tough on the Mariners, going 2-0 with an 0.66 ERA in his last four outings against them. Holland has not allowed an earned run over 23 1/3 innings in three career starts at Safeco and won them all."The weather is nice and the roof is closed, but you still have to keep the ball down," Holland said. "Even though it's a pitcher's park, the ball can still go out of here."Seattle (59-71) has lost four straight at home and has totaled seven runs in its last six games there.Former Mariner Adrian Beltre is batting .419 over an 11-game hitting streak against his old club and has hit .415 in his last 26 games overall. He's also had Iwakuma's number, going 5 for 11 with two home runs.Seattle's Kyle Seager hit his 20th home run Monday and is batting .424 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 14 games versus the Rangers.
Since the start of August, Derek Holland's 25.7 percent strikeout rate ranks No. 9 in baseball. In the first four months of the season, he had a 22 percent rate, which ranked No. 27.
Derek Holland is throwing his slider 25.7% of the time this season, a noticeable increase over last season's 12.3%. Holland is using the slider as a strikeout pitch far more often this season, with a huge increase in usage with two strikes.