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Monday, April 15, 2013
Week ahead: Cubs, Mariners

By Todd Wills

The Rangers are off Monday, then must prepare for what looks like a chilly, rainy three-game series Tuesday-Thursday in the Windy City against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Then it's back home for a brief three-game homestand as the Rangers get an early season rematch Friday-Sunday with the Seattle Mariners.

Here are some things to watch for:

Chicago weather: The forecast on weather.com calls for 52-degree highs with a north wind and a chance of rain for Tuesday and Wednesday. The best chance for rain is Wednesday, with a 70 percent probability. Thursday afternoon's game (1:20 p.m.) should be better with a high of 67 degrees, but there's still a 40 percent chance of rain. It could be a long three days in Chicago.

Cubs' pitching: The Rangers will face three hot Cubs pitchers. Scheduled starters Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva and Jeff Samardzija are off to a torrid start with a 1.76 combined ERA. They've allowed 30 hits in 46 innings and are averaging a strikeout per inning. They've had tough luck with a combined 2-2 record.

Even with Mariners: The Rangers and Mariners just completed a four-games series in which both teams scored 11 runs. The teams split the series at Safeco Field with each team winning by scores of 4-3 and 3-1. The Rangers had a chance to win three out of four but couldn't rally from a 4-3 deficit in the late innings Sunday despite multiple scoring opportunities and several bench options that manager Ron Washington elected not to use.

No King Felix: The Rangers won't see Seattle starter Felix Hernandez this time around. King Felix will start Wednesday against Detroit. The Rangers beat Hernandez 4-3 on Thursday, preventing the Mariners ace from notching his 100th career victory.