MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Texas0 0 0 7 0 1 0 0 0 880
Seattle0 0 1 1 0 1 2 1 0 6112
  W: A. Cashner (10-10)   L: F. Hernandez (5-5)   S: Á. Cláudio (10)
7:10 PM PT8:10 PM MT9:10 PM CT10:10 PM ET22:10 ET2:10 GMT10:10 7:10 PM MST9:10 PM EST9:40 PM VEN6:10 UAE (+1)9:10 PM CT, September 20, 2017
Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington  Attendance: 15,962

Mariners hope Felix is King against Rangers

SEATTLE -- With the season running down and each game becoming increasingly more important, Seattle Mariners ace right-hander Felix Hernandez will make the next step in his return from a shoulder injury.

Hernandez, who was sidelined for the month of August with bursitis in his pitching shoulder, will take the mound Wednesday night as the Mariners face the Texas Rangers.

With the playoff hopes of the Mariners and Rangers on tenuous ground -- the Rangers are 3 1/2 games back of the Minnesota Twins in the chase for the second American League wild card, and the Mariners four back with less than two weeks to play -- it is a big moment for the former AL Cy Young Award winner.

And with Seattle in the midst of a four-game losing streak, King Felix needs to get back to his best in a hurry.

"I wish we were a little closer to the head of the pack, where Minnesota and the Angels are right now," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "But we are where we are. Every game is, 'Win tonight.' I said it last homestand, and I'm really saying it this homestand, too. That's the only thing you can concern yourself with."

Rangers manager Jeff Banister made it clear Tuesday that he had the wild card in his sights. He is not yet looking to give his younger players an extended trial.

"We've got 13 games to go," he said before Texas' 3-1 win over the Mariners on Tuesday. "It's about winning baseball games and closing games out, whoever goes out there."

Hernandez made his return to action against the Rangers on Thursday, allowing one run and three hits in 3 2/3 innings of the Mariners' 10-4 victory.

Servais said his ace probably would get a longer leash Wednesday, somewhere in the 70-80 pitch range.

"No real hard pitch count," Servais said. "We'll see where he's at. I can't imagine he'll go 100 pitches."

For the season, Hernandez is 5-4 with a 4.19 ERA in 77 1/3 innings. He has had some success against several Rangers regulars, notably Rougned Odor (.167 in 30 career at-bats) and former Mariner Shin-Soo Choo (.222 in 54 career at-bats). Elvis Andrus has held his own however, hitting .290 in 100 career at-bats.

The best sign for Seattle: The Mariners have won all three of Hernandez's starts against Texas this season, and he went 1-0 with a 3.31 ERA in those games. Hernandez is 19-23 with a 3.92 ERA in 53 career starts versus the Rangers.

He will be facing Andrew Cashner (9-10, 3.40), who was tagged with the loss Thursday, when he gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Banister said the right-hander has been one of the Texas rotation's go-to guys this season.

"At times, he was the guy we looked toward to go out and put together the better starts for us," the manager said. "A little bit of a slow start because of injuries coming out of spring training, but we've seen the fastball beginning to creep back up to what we've seen in the past."

Kyle Seager has hit Cashner well, batting .333 in 18 at-bats with two home runs in his career as the only current Mariner to have taken him deep. Nelson Cruz is 5-for-11 against Cashner, who is 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA in four starts against Seattle this season and 1-4, 3.98 in eight career games (seven starts) vs. the Mariners.

Updated September 20, 2017

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