The Seattle Mariners are riding high after winning a series against one of the teams they're chasing in the AL playoff race.
Now they need to reverse some unusual struggles against baseball's worst team.No club in the AL West has played the Mariners tougher than the Texas Rangers as these clubs get set to begin a four-game set Thursday night in Arlington.Seattle (75-63) took two of three in Oakland after winning 2-1 on Wednesday to pull within 3 1/2 games of the Athletics, who own the AL's first wild card. The Mariners are one-half game behind Detroit for the second spot."We're obviously looking up at them right now," slugger Kyle Seager told MLB's official website. "We know where we are, we know they're ahead of us. So to come here and take two of three is big."The Mariners hold a winning record against every team in a division considered one of the best in baseball except for their 6-9 mark against the Rangers. This marks the final series between these clubs this season.Seager and Robinson Cano have combined for seven homers and 25 RBIs in the season series, while the rest of the team has gone deep a combined four times with no other Mariner driving in more than six runs.The Rangers were originally scheduled to start Scott Baker, but a stiff neck has pushed him back to Friday and Robbie Ross Jr. (2-5, 5.63 ERA) will take his place.Ross was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock prior to pitching five scoreless innings in Saturday's 2-0 loss at Houston. He is 0-5 with a 6.69 ERA in his last eight starts since beating the Mariners on April 15 with 7 2/3 innings in a 5-0 victory.The right-hander also pitched well in his other 2014 start against Seattle, yielding two runs in six innings of a 6-5 defeat 10 days later.He'll be opposed by Roenis Elias (9-12, 3.97), who leads all rookies in losses and is second in innings (149 2-3).The left-hander has posted a 2.40 ERA while losing three straight starts with the Mariners failing to provide him even a single run of support. He gave up three runs in six innings Saturday in a 3-1 home defeat against Washington.Elias is 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA in three starts against Texas (53-86), allowing no homers in 17 1/3 innings. The Rangers are 16-26 against left-handed starters.Two of baseball's best hitters will be on display in Cano and Adrian Beltre, who is third in the majors with a .323 average, while Seattle's second baseman is fifth at .321.Seager has hit safely in eight straight with homers in consecutive games. Logan Morrison is batting .370 during a career-high 15-game road hitting streak, but he's 2 for 19 against Texas this year.Texas has totaled seven runs while batting .199 during a five-game slide capped by Wednesday's 4-1 defeat in Kansas City. The Rangers were 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position."We put ourselves in position," manager Ron Washington said. "It wasn't just one part of the lineup. It was up and down. It was almost everybody had an opportunity."