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09/27/10 9:44 PM ET

Felix aims to impress Cy Young voters in Texas

The Texas Rangers have already wrapped up the American League West, so they're focusing on getting their pitching rested, hoping Josh Hamilton can return by the end of the week, and making sure they're primed and ready to go when the AL Division Series begins next week.

When they take on the Seattle Mariners at the Ballpark in Arlington on Tuesday, there won't be much regular-season intrigue as far as Texas is concerned. For the Mariners, however, that is definitely not the case.

That's because Mariners starter Felix Hernandez is one of the leading contenders for the AL Cy Young Award, and he could use a victory for several reasons. For one, his current record is 12-12, so improving to a mark above .500 would figure to also better his chances of taking home the trophy, which is widely believed to be a race between Hernandez and Yankees lefty CC Sabathia, a 20-game winner.

Also, Hernandez's Tuesday start could very well be his final outing of 2010. He's already at a career-high and AL-leading 241 2/3 innings, and the Mariners have always been careful with him. So it would be unwise to assume that Hernandez will automatically make his next scheduled start, which would come in the season finale Sunday at home against Oakland.

"He's going to pitch tomorrow," Mariners interim manager Daren Brown said Monday. "We're not looking beyond that. ... Expect him to go out and do what he's been doing -- pitch seven or eight innings as long as he keeps his pitch count down. ... With him, anytime he takes the mound, you are excited. He's fun guy to watch pitch. You know he will compete."

After he competes Tuesday, the Mariners will make a decision about Sunday.

"We know where he is innings-wise and right now, he's more than what he had last year," Brown said. "He's 24 years old and we are going to take care of him. He's very important to us. I want to take it one start at a time. He's pitching tomorrow and we'll go from there."

Right-hander Scott Feldman will get the ball for the Rangers and will try to build some positive momentum for next year after a trying season.

Feldman was the team's Opening Day starter, but couldn't get into a consistent groove and ended up in the Rangers' bullpen. He worked two innings of relief on Thursday in Oakland, giving up a run on two hits.

He'll be making his second start since the beginning of August, with his last one coming in a loss to the Blue Jays on Sept. 7 in which he gave up four runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He's 4-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 18 career games vs. Seattle.

Mariners: Fun Felix facts
Hernandez has pitched into the seventh inning in a club-record 24 consecutive starts. He has allowed seven total runs over his last nine starts for an ERA of 0.94 and has received zero runs of support (runs scored when he is pitching) in seven of his last 13 starts. Among AL starters, he ranks first in ERA (2.31), he's tied for first in starts (33) and he's first in quality starts (29). ... Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki is on pace to lead the Majors in singles for the ninth time in his career and lead the AL for his 10th consecutive season. He currently has 167 singles out of 205 hits. Only two other AL players have had at least four consecutive seasons leading the league in singles: Willie Wilson (1979-82) and Nellie Fox (1954-60)

Rangers: Bullpen looking for a boost
The Rangers bullpen has allowed 14 runs in 17 2/3 innings over the last five games, but has a 3.20 ERA over the last 36 games. The Rangers' bullpen leads the AL in innings and ranks second in strikeouts and saves. The club is 44-for-62 in save chances with four saves in the last 22 games. ... Reliever Alexi Ogando has a 1.27 ERA in his last 27 games. He has allowed a run in only six of 42 contests since his recall from Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 12. His 1.34 ERA leads the Majors among all pitchers with at least 35 innings. He has allowed 12 of 30 inherited runners to score.

Worth noting
Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez has been perfect in the field in all 144 games he's played this season. He has not made an error in 185 consecutive games. ... Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon has 13 hits in his last 27 at-bats (.481) dating back to the seventh inning on Sept. 20 against the Angels in Anaheim. He has a seven-game overall hitting streak and has started 116 games in center field with three errors in 320 chances and one in his last 74 games.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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