The Texas Rangers are hoping their latest effort at the plate is the start of an offensive turnaround, and a three-game set with the Seattle Mariners could be just what they need.
The Rangers look to take advantage of one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball Monday night when they try to win back-to-back games for the first time this year against the Mariners.
Texas (7-11) owns the lowest batting average in the majors at .211, but it showed some signs of life in Sunday's 5-4, 11-inning win over the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers collected nine hits after batting .198 while scoring eight runs during a three-game skid.
"We had a couple of tough ones in this series. So to be able to scratch that one out and grind it out to the end and take a win home to start the homestand is going to be nice," said first baseman Mitch Moreland, who had three hits and two RBIs.
Leonys Martin has turned around his sluggish start. The center fielder hit .343 during the 3-5 road trip after going 6 for 42 through his first 10 games.
Martin had two hits Sunday, including a leadoff homer in the 11th for his first of the season.
"It was nice to see Leonys get the ball up in the air and out of the ballpark, and nice to see that these guys' efforts were rewarded," manager Jeff Banister said. "It should give us some confidence."
Martin should have plenty against Seattle (7-11) since he's 17 of 33 over the past eight matchups, including 6 of 13 in three this year.
The Rangers dropped two of three at Seattle earlier this month. They're hoping to at least reverse that in Arlington against a Seattle staff that ranks among the worst in baseball with a 4.47 ERA, with its rotation compiling a 4.81 mark - 1.33 higher than last season.
The Mariners' offense didn't help Sunday, going 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position while the bullpen gave up two runs in the 11th in a 4-2 loss to Minnesota.
Taijuan Walker (0-2, 10.66 ERA) gets the ball looking to build on his best performance of the season. The right-hander allowed one run and matched his career high with eight strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings before the bullpen wasted his effort, yielding five runs in the eighth of a 6-3 loss to Houston on Tuesday.
Walker surrendered 14 runs in 7 1-3 innings over his first two starts.
"I thought he was outstanding," manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB's official website Tuesday. "He did exactly what I thought he was going to do."
Walker is making his first start against the Rangers. He allowed one hit while getting the final four outs of a 1-0 loss at Texas on Sept. 7.
The Rangers will counter with Yovani Gallardo (2-2, 3.92), who looks to bounce back from an 8-5 loss at Arizona on Wednesday. The right-hander was hammered for five runs - three earned - and six hits in five innings after winning his two previous starts, including six scoreless innings of a 3-1 win at Seattle on April 17.
Gallardo has struggled with Nelson Cruz, who is 5 for 5 with two homers off him.