To start the second half of the season, the first-place Texas Rangers (52-34) are at Safeco Field for a weekend series against to help the last-place Mariners (36-51, 16.5 games back) that features Saturday night a match-up of big time pitchers: Felix Hernandez vs. Yu Darvish.
After the Rangers, the Mariners will venture east for seven games, including four in Kansas City (July 16-19) and three at Tampa Bay (July 20-22). The Mariners play the Royals for the first time this season. They were swept in a four-game series at Tampa (April 30-May 3).
A closer look at the weekend:FRIDAYRHP Kevin Millwood (3-6, 3.69) vs. LHP Derek Holland (5-4, 5.50)Millwood (2012): Will make his 17th start and fourth against the Rangers; has not won since May 23 when he defeated Texas 5-3 at Safeco Field; is coming off a no-decision vs. Oakland in which he allowed three hits over 7.0 innings; five no-decisions and two losses in his last seven outings. Vs. Texas: 1-0, 1.06 ERA in three games, all starts; 14 strikeouts to six walks; did not allow an earned run in 6.0 innings when he defeated Texas 5-3 May 23.
Holland (2012): The 25-year-old will be making his 13th start and third against the Mariners. Holland, who spent a month on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue (June 6-July 7), is coming off a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins; has pitched into the seventh inning five times in 13 starts, and allowed three or fewer runs seven times. Vs. Mariners: 1-1, 10.00 ERA in two games, both starts; defeated the Mariners 5-3 April 12 and was the losing pitcher May 30 when the Mariners tallied 21 runs in a 21-8 win over the Rangers.SATURDAYRHP Felix Hernandez (6-5, 3.13) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (10-5, 3.59)Hernandez (2012): Will make his 19th start and second against the Rangers. An All-Star for the third time in his career, Hernandez is 1-0 against Texas and coming off a no-decision against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field July 8. Hernandez has seven no-decisions this season, including five in which he has allowed one or fewer runs. Vs. Texas: 1-0, 1.13 ERA in one game, a start; defeated the Rangers 6-1 May 21, allowing one earned run in 8.0 innings.Darvish (2012): The 25-year-old Darvish, in his first season with the Rangers, will make his 17th start and third against the Mariners; Darvish pitched into the seventh inning seven times in his first 16 starts; Darvish is 3-3 in his last six and is coming off a 3-1 loss to the Oakland A's. Vs. Seattle: 1-1, 8.38 ERA in two games, both starts, covering 9.2 innings; 10 strikeouts to 10 walks; defeated Seattle 11-5 April 9, and lost to Hernandez and the Mariners 6-1 May 21.SUNDAYRHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1, 4.84) vs. LHP Matt Harrison (11-4, 3.10)Iwakuma (2012): Will make his 16th appearance, and his second start, against the Rangers; began the year in the bullpen; had his only win working 2.0 innings of relief June 16 against San Francisco; coming off a no-decision in his last (and only) start, a 6-3 Seattle win over Baltimore July 2. Vs. Texas: Threw 3.0 innings of relief May 30 when the Mariners won 21-8; credited with a save in that game, his first of the season.Harrison (2012): Will make his 18th start and third against the Mariners; has pitched into the seventh inning eight times and had his best outing June 8 at San Francisco when he blanked the Giants 5-0 in a complete game; has allowed four or more earned runs just twice. Vs. Seattle: 2-0, 1.80 ERA in two games, both starts, covering 15.0 innings; beat Seattle 3-1 May 22 and 4-2 May 28; allowed combined three earned runs in those games.