Matchup: Martin Perez vs. Felix Hernandez
Perez (7-3, 3.62 ERA): The 22-year-old tries to set Rangers rookie records for wins in a month and most victorious starts in a row. He will have to beat “King Felix” for the second time in three starts to do it. Perez won against his fellow Venezuelan Aug. 17 in Arlington, Texas, allowing eight hits and three runs in seven innings. That is one of four victories this month for Perez, tying him with Jarrod Parker and Max Scherzer for the American League lead. He is 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA in five August starts, lowering his season ERA from 4.37. His last time out he endured Chicago’s three-run second inning to last seven frames in Texas’ 11-5 win over the White Sox. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Perez and R.A. Dickey are the only Texas rookies to win four consecutive starts. He is 7-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts since his most recent promotion from Triple-A Round Rock on June 22. This will be his second career start at Safeco Field. On Sept. 21, he took the loss while allowing six hits and three earned runs in four innings.
Hernandez (12-7, 2.63 ERA): Seattle’s All-Star and franchise cornerstone has lost three of his past four starts with a far-from-King-like 4.88 ERA in that span. He is 0-3 with a 5.55 ERA in four starts against the Rangers this season. Last week in Arlington, he surrendered five hits, five walks and five runs in five slogging innings of Seattle’s 15-3 loss. He was sharp in his most recent start, allowing three hits and two runs with 10 strikeouts in six innings yet still lost to the Los Angeles Angels. It was his fourth game with 10 or more strikeouts this season and 25th of his career. He leads the AL with 184 2/3 innings and is third in both ERA strikeouts (192). He is 7-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 20 career starts against Texas at Safeco Field but 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA there versus the Rangers this season.
Hitters: David Murphy (.329, 3 HRs, 16 RBI) has been Texas’ biggest run producer against Hernandez, and Adrian Beltre (.333, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .379 on-base percentage) has the highest batting average among Rangers regulars against his good friend and former Seattle teammate. Ian Kinsler has four home runs in 74 career at-bats against Hernandez but only a .230 average. Former Rangers top prospect Justin Smoak (4-for-8, two doubles) has had the most success against Perez. Kyle Seager is the only current Mariner to hit a home run in the team’s 75 combined plate appearances against him.
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