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Mariners look to continue year-long dominance of Rangers

The Seattle Mariners have won 32 of their last 45 games to move to nine games above .500, which ties their season high.

The Mariners aim to continue their ascent as well as their recent dominance of the Texas Rangers on Friday when they begin a nine-game road trip with the opener of a three-game series in Arlington, Texas.

Seattle claimed a series victory over the New York Yankees for the second time in as many weeks to find itself in the second wild-card spot in the American League.

Sam Haggerty recorded the Mariners’ first hit of the day on Wednesday, belting a solo shot in the sixth inning of a 4-3 win over the Yankees. Haggerty is batting .350 with four homers and 11 RBIs since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on June 29.

“You need everybody just to do their job. They don’t have to be anything special,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I didn’t ask Sam Haggerty to all of a sudden become Mickey Mantle. It just worked out that way because he wasn’t trying to do too much.”

Sure, Haggerty likely won’t be confused with the Hall of Famer any time soon, but the 28-year-old has put up some impressive statistics against Texas this season. He is 11-for-20 with one homer, two RBIs and seven runs in eight games.

All told, the Mariners have won eight in a row against Texas and 11 of 13 meetings this season. That dominance even extends back to last season, too, as Seattle has won 16 of the last 18 meetings with its division rival.

Seattle rookie right-hander George Kirby (3-3, 3.40 ERA) will look to add to those totals when he takes the mound on Friday.

Kirby, 24, allowed one run on six hits with eight strikeouts over six innings in a 2-1 victory versus the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. He has permitted just three runs on 11 hits in 15 innings over three starts since being optioned to Tacoma on July 9 as a means to limit his workload.

“He’s looked great,” Servais said. “After we shut him down and gave him a little breather, he has come back and has thrown very well. The velo is still there, the secondary stuff is there, and he has looked strong. That is exactly what we need out of him going forward.”

Kirby owns a 1.64 ERA and has limited Texas to a .180 batting average while posting two no-decisions versus the club this season.

The Rangers fell for the seventh time in 10 games following a 7-3 setback against the Houston Astros on Thursday afternoon.

Texas will look to rebound behind Josh Sborz (0-0, 5.87), who will be making his first start of the season after 13 relief appearances.

Sborz, 28, was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock after Matt Bush was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers at the trade deadline. Since joining the big league club, the right-hander has thrown four scoreless innings.

Leody Taveras could also play a part in turning things around for the Rangers after recording back-to-back multi-hit games to close the Houston series.

“I am proud of (Taveras),” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “He has come a long way in a short amount of time, and he’s proven to us that I can’t take him out.”

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