(Photo credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports)
The Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers may determine which of them makes the postseason field.
The teams close their regular seasons by playing seven of the final 10 games against one another, beginning with Friday's opener of a three-game series at Arlington, Texas.
The Mariners (84-68) and Rangers (84-68) trail the American League West-leading Houston Astros (85-68) by a half-game in the division race. Both teams are also competing with the Toronto Blue Jays (85-67 entering Thursday) for the final two AL wild-card spots.
Texas holds a 5-1 lead in the season series, including victories in which it scored 16 and 12 runs. The teams conclude the regular season next week with four games in Seattle.
Rangers manager Bruce Bochy is thrilled to be in this situation. The likely Hall of Famer retired following the 2019 season and returned to the dugout prior to this campaign.
"To be in this situation, you couldn't ask for more," Bochy told reporters after Wednesday's 15-5 rout of the visiting Boston Red Sox. "You've been out for three years and come back, to be in a fire like this, it is definitely a privilege.
"We get to have a good team (the Mariners) coming into town and it's going to be exciting. It's what we play for."
Bochy's offense has scored in double digits a franchise-record 26 times. Wednesday's game marked the sixth time Texas scored 15 or more runs.
The offense got stronger this week with the return of All-Stars Adolis Garcia (knee) and Josh Jung (thumb). Garcia scored his 100th run Wednesday to go with his 102 RBIs, while Jung went 3-for-5 and belted his 23rd homer.
"You look at the two guys we just got back, I love their at-bats," Bochy said. "It stretches out your lineup. ... It's always good to have success, it breeds confidence as they say, and you can see it in the guys right now."
Despite the gaudy offense, the Rangers are just 9-11 over their past 20 games, a stretch that includes a six-game winning streak.
Seattle is just 7-10 over its past 17 games after producing a three-game road sweep of the Oakland Athletics.
Mariners second-year star Julio Rodriguez hammered his 31st homer of the season in Wednesday's 6-3 victory over the A's to reach 100 RBIs.
"It means that we definitely put a lot of team effort in that," Rodriguez said. "I didn't get 100 home runs. There were definitely guys on base, there were a lot of good at-bats and things like that."
Rodriguez homered in the fifth inning. Two innings earlier, he was plunked on his left hand by a pitch and Seattle manager Scott Servais said afterward that Rodriguez will undergo precautionary X-rays.
Servais also saluted the performance of the team's star attraction.
"He has been awesome for us, and we're going to need him over the next 10 days and in the playoffs," Servais said.
Rookie right-hander Bryce Miller (8-5, 3.88 ERA) will start the opener for Seattle.
Miller is winless over his past five starts (0-1) but allowed just four hits over 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Los Angeles Dodgers last Saturday.
Miller, 25, was torched for seven runs and eight hits over 2 1/3 innings while losing to Texas on June 4. He allowed a homer to Corey Seager.
Right-hander Dane Dunning (10-6, 3.78) will take the mound for Texas. He gave up six hits in five shutout innings during a no-decision against the Cleveland Guardians on Saturday.
Dunning, 28, beat the Mariners on May 10 when he gave up two runs and six hits over six innings.
Dunning is 2-1 with a 4.02 ERA in six career starts against Seattle. Cal Raleigh (4-for-11) and Rodriguez (3-for-13) have both gone deep against him.
--Field Level Media