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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, July 2nd (All times eastern)

Seattle Mariners (35-47) at Texas Rangers (48-34), 8:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Seattle - Joe Saunders (5-8, 4.98) Texas - Justin Grimm (7-5, 5.56)

(Sports Network) - Joe Saunders will once again try for his first-ever win at Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday when the Seattle Mariners open a three-game set with the Texas Rangers.

In seven career starts in Arlington, Saunders has gone 0-7 with a 9.91 ERA. After cruising through the month of June, the veteran left-hander was hit hard by the Pittsburgh Pirates a week ago. He gave up six runs on six hits, including three home runs, and was chased after only 1 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, Justin Grimm looks to turn the page to a new month and a fresh start. He pitched to an unsightly 9.00 ERA in five June outings.

"I need to execute pitches," Grimm said. "I've been getting caught up in focusing on this or that, and I need to focus on executing pitches. Just keep it simple."

The right-hander is coming off back-to-back wins after allowing three runs over five innings in each of his last two starts, the latest of which came in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.

Texas closed out the month of June by winning nine of 11 to overtake Oakland by a half-game in the American League West following Monday's off day. The Rangers took two out of three from Cincinnati over the weekend, including Sunday's 3-2 victory behind 6 2/3 scoreless innings by starter Yu Darvish.

The right-hander allowed only four hits while striking out eight, as he was able to overcome four walks to earn his first win since May 16. Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus each drove in a run, and Joe Nathan pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 27th save.

After starting the month of June 4-11, the Rangers are feeling good about the direction they are headed.

"It's the best .500 month ever -- to go from where we were and the stretch we knew we had in front of us, the teams we were playing on the road that are tough places to play and to be able to go in and win," Nathan said. "To be able to grind through and believe we can play better than we have, obviously, and win series against playoff-caliber teams down to the end speaks volume for this clubhouse. Guys knew not to give up and keep pressing on."

Seattle has lost nine of its last 13 as the team embarks on a six-game road trip. The Mariners are trying to get by with a patchwork outfield as Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Morse are on the disabled list, while Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders are both dealing with finger injuries.

"We just have to stay put with the guys, manager Eric Wedge said.

The M's dropped two of three at home to the Cubs over the weekend. Two of the games went to extra innings, and Chicago took Sunday's rubber match, 7-6.

Texas has won seven of the 10 head-to-head meetings with Seattle so far this season. The Rangers have doubled up the M's in run differential, 51-25.

07/02 10:35:20 ET