HOUSTON -- The Rangers are expected to face the Mariners' two best pitchers during their three-game series that starts on Friday at the Ballpark in Arlington.
The Mariners' rotation is set up right now for Hisashi Iwakuma to pitch on Friday and Felix Hernandez on Saturday. Erasmo Ramirez is scheduled to pitch the Sunday game. Iwakuma is 2-3 with a 4.17 ERA in seven games (six starts) over two seasons against the Rangers.
Hernandez has a much more extensive history against the Rangers. This would be his 38th start against the Rangers, which would tie him for fourth most all-time. During those 37 starts, Hernandez is 12-18 with a 3.83 ERA. The 18 losses are tied with Chuck Finley for the most by an opposing pitcher in club history. Finley has been retired for over a decade. Hernandez is signed with the Mariners through at least 2019. He is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA against the Rangers this season.
The Rangers are facing three left-handers in four days in Houston, but they will see five right-handers during the first two series in Arlington. The Brewers are scheduled to pitch right-handers Marco Estrada and Tyler Thornburg during the two-game set on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Rangers have an off-day on Thursday, and manager Ron Washington said he does not expect to use that to skip any pitchers in the rotation. Washington said the plan right now is to give everybody a day of rest. That means Alexi Ogando and Matt Garza will pitch against the Brewers, and Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Yu Darvish will pitch against the Mariners.
Rangers get good report on Berkman after rehab game
HOUSTON -- So far, so good with Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman, according to the report manager Ron Washington received on Sunday morning. Berkman went 2-for-3 with a strikeout, home run and single in a rehab game for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday night.
"He swung the bat well," Washington said.
The Rangers are more concerned about Berkman's ability to run, and he didn't have to do too much running between the strikeout, home run and being left on base after the two-out single in the fourth. The game was delayed by rain for 51 minutes in the fifth, and Berkman did not play after that.
"One thing, he knows how to hit," Washington said. "If his body allows him, he knows how to hit."
Manny Ramirez pinch-hit for Berkman in the sixth, marking the first time in Minor League history that a player with 555 Major League home runs pinch-hit for a guy with 366 of them.
Berkman, who is on the disabled list because of inflammation in his left hip as well as a chronic sore right knee, will likely play at least three or four more games at Round Rock. The Rangers don't expect to activate him at least through the two-game set against the Brewers that starts on Tuesday. The Rangers have an off-day on Thursday and they may make a decision then.
"It's just a matter of when we decide to bring him back," Washington said.
Washington said when Berkman does come back, he will resume his duties as the Rangers' designated hitter, although not playing as regularly as he did earlier in the season.
"He's not a guy who I'm going to use off the bench," Washington said. "If this guy is right, he is another weapon."
Soria believes Feliz can return strong from Tommy John
HOUSTON -- There is life for a reliever immediately after returning from Tommy John surgery. Rangers right-hander Joakim Soria is paving the way for Neftali Feliz.
Soria underwent Tommy John surgery on April 2, 2012, and was activated off the disabled list on July 7 of this year. Since then he has made 11 appearances and not allowed a run in nine of them. His last three appearances have been scoreless, dropping his ERA to 3.48, and opponents are hitting .189 off him.
"I feel good," Soria said. "Coming back from surgery, some days are not that good, some days I feel good. It's part of the process, but overall I feel good."
Feliz underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 1, 2012, and has made three rehab appearances. He was scratched from Saturday's outing because of some triceps inflammation, but the Rangers said it was only a precautionary measure. The Rangers are still hoping to get Feliz back by Sept. 1, and if he comes back as effective as Soria, he'll add another late-inning option for the Rangers.
"Everybody is different, but he's a really strong guy," Soria said. "In Arizona he was really working out hard. Looking at the way he is working hard, I think he'll make it and be the pitcher he once was."
Feliz, when he was healthy, threw 97-100 miles per hour. Soria was never a hard thrower when he was a two-time All-Star closer for the Royals, but he knows how to pitch. That has helped him get through some games when he wasn't physically at his best.
"What he has is craftiness and knowledge," manager Ron Washington said. "The more he gets the ball, the better he'll get. Feliz doesn't have the experience and knowledge Soria has. I don't know until I see Neftali if he is trusting his arm. I see Soria trusting his. We'll just see what Neftali has to offer when he comes back."
Rangers send Garcia to White Sox, complete Rios deal
HOUSTON -- The Astros did not stand in the Rangers' way of completing their trade with the White Sox. The Rangers announced on Sunday they were sending infielder Leury Garcia to the White Sox as the player to be named in the trade for Alex Rios.
The Rangers made the trade on Friday, but the part involving Garcia was held up because he needed to go through waivers. But the Astros were the only team with a worse record than the White Sox. Once they passed on Garcia, the White Sox put in a claim and the deal was completed on Sunday.
Garcia had split the season between Triple-A Round Rock and the Rangers, beginning the year with Texas. He was optioned to the Express on June 16, playing in 47 games. During his time with Round Rock, Garcia hit .264 (51-for-193) with four home runs and 19 RBIs. In 25 games with the Rangers, Garcia batted .192 (10-for-52) with a triple, RBI and eight runs scored in his first Major League action.
• The Rangers entered Sunday's game having won 11 of 12, and reliever Jason Frasor had three wins in relief during that span.
• Elvis Andrus had gone 452 at-bats this season before hitting his first home run on Saturday night. It was the longest drought in the Majors. He had gone 557 at-bats since his last home run on Sept. 4, 2012, against the Royals.
• Joe Nathan's save on Saturday was the 332nd of his career, 11th most in Major League history. His next target is Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, who had 341.
• The Rangers, going into Sunday, were 19-10 in one-run games for a .655 winning percentage that was the best in the Majors.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.