Wed, 17 Oct 2018
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Sydney

Wakamatsu-led Rangers look to beat Mariners again

Sports Xchange
22 Sep 2018, 14:30 GMT+10

The Texas Rangers won their first game with interim manager Don Wakamatsu at the helm, and did so emphatically, trouncing the Seattle Mariners 8-3 on Friday in the opening game of Rangers' final three-game home series.

The game was called in the top of the seventh inning after an hour of torrential rain, lightning and flooding.

Maybe Wakamatsu, who had been Texas' bench coach, apparently made that much of a difference. Or perhaps the Rangers were just due after losing four straight games and 16 of their past 22. The Rangers had been shut out in their previous two games.

Whatever it was, Texas hopes it can bottle it and carry it along for its final nine games, beginning Saturday in the middle game of the series against the Mariners at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

The Mariners will send left-hander Marco Gonzales (12-9, 4.28 ERA) to the mound to try to even the series while Texas will counter with left-hander Mike Minor (12-7, 4.14).

Wakamatsu took over the Rangers' reins when Jeff Banister was dismissed earlier Friday after four seasons and two division championships in Arlington. Banister was American League manager of the year in 2015.

Wakamatsu, who managed in Seattle in 2009-10 before being fired, said before Friday's game that he wants to be considered for the full-time managerial position.

"It's an emotional time for me," Wakamatsu said of Banister's dismissal and his chance to take over the job, be it for just the rest of the season or beyond. "Banny approached me this winter about coming on the staff, so still trying to process a lot of that right now and just really focus on the next 10 days and see how we can finish strong.

"I came back here because of Banny. I came back here because of (Texas general manager) Jon Daniels, and some of the relationships and comfort level I felt with coming back home."

Meanwhile, in the opposing dugout, the Mariners' Felix Hernandez, who has been sidelined since Sept. 8 with a tight right hamstring, rejoined the team and played flat-ground catch on Friday.

He'll throw a bullpen session on Saturday to see whether he can manage to get in a final start this season next week at home.

"One more outing, a productive outing, would be good to see," said Seattle manager Scott Servais, whose team has fallen out of contention for a postseason berth. "He wants to pitch again, no question about it. That's why he's here. If that wasn't the case, he'd probably shut it down.

"He's had a lot of innings, no doubt," Servais added about Hernandez. "He just wants to feel healthy and feel good about going into the next year. But he wants to get back out there."

The 26-year-old Gonzales will make his 28th start of the 2018 season on Saturday after recording a no-decision in his most recent start, a 4-3 Mariners loss to the Angels in Anaheim on Sunday. He gave up three runs and six hits in five innings.

Gonzales will be making his fourth career start against the Rangers, and he has a 2-1 record with a 5.40 ERA in the first three. Two of those starts came this season, and Gonzales went 1-1 with a 5.40 in those.

Minor will make his 28th start of the season on Saturday night. He leads Texas with 12 wins and his next win will match his career high, achieved in 2013 when he was with Atlanta. He will be working on five days' rest after taking a no-decision in the Rangers' 7-3 loss on Sunday at San Diego. He allowed four hits and two runs over 6 1/3 innings in that game.

Minor has gone 1-2, with a 4.74 ERA in seven games, four of them starts, in his career versus Seattle, including 0-1 and a 7.24 ERA in three starts this season.

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