After sweeping the last-place Red Sox in Boston this weekend, Seattle will welcome another struggling team to Safeco Field as it opens a three-game series against Texas on Monday.
The Mariners will enter the series six games back in the American League West, but they clutch to the second Wild Card spot in the AL. To hold on to it, they'll have to capitalize on seven games against the Major League-worst Rangers, who have lost seven of their last 10 games.
Rookie Roenis Elias takes the hill for the first game for Seattle, looking to bounce back from a four-inning outing in his last start when he walked a season-high six batters in a 4-1 loss at Philadelphia on Monday.
"He wasn't sharp and got his pitch count up, but heck, he only gave up one run," said manager Lloyd McClendon. "He just didn't have command of his secondary stuff and just ran his pitch count up. When he had to make a good pitch, he seemed to make a good pitch."
Elias has posted a 9-10 record and 4.09 ERA in his rookie campaign. He's 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two starts against the Rangers.
The Mariners are being careful with Elias as he's thrown the second-most innings of any rookie in the Majors at 138 2/3. But the 26-year-old said he still feels strong despite his rough outing against the Phillies. His pitch count got up quickly to 90 in four frames as he gave up three hits and hit a batter along with the six walks in his first start after being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma following a 10-day break to reduce his workload.
"I was a little erratic with my fastball command, but I felt good physically," the Cuban native said through interpreter Mike Rojas. "I feel good. My arm feels good. Everything feels good up to now."
The Rangers will counter with Miles Mikolas, who earned a no-decision Tuesday at Miami when he went five innings and gave up three runs on eight hits while striking out six and throwing 98 pitches.
"Obviously I've had my ups and downs, some good games and some bad games," Mikolas said. "In my good games, I've shown what I'm capable of, stuff-wise and keeping my composure on a big stage like Yankee Stadium. Now I want to show them my consistency. It's my 10th start. I've had my ups and downs but now I want to show them I'm getting the hang of it, start going six or seven innings on a more regular basis and keeping our team in the game longer."
Mikolas has surrendered three or fewer runs in three of his last four starts, the exception coming when the Rays tagged him for 10 runs on Aug. 13. In five road starts this season, Mikolas is 1-1 with a 3.34 ERA; in four home outings, he's 0-4 with a 13.73 ERA.
"I'd like to think there's really no difference, it just so happens that a lot of my lumps have come at home," Mikolas said. "I don't think it's an indication of the ballpark, some of the ballparks we've played on the road play the same as here. I don't feel any more nervous at home. I don't feel any different at home than I do on the road, no less pressure. I just think it's an odd coincidence."
The 26-year-old rookie has never faced the Mariners.
Rangers: Soto latest catcher traded
Less than 24 hours after the Rangers dealt Chris Gimenez to Cleveland, Texas sent Geovany Soto to Oakland on Sunday for cash considerations.
Soto started the season on the 60-day disabled list with a torn meniscus in his right knee, an injury he suffered in Spring Training. He has spent most of the season on the DL, not making his season debut until July 18 -- only to be placed back on the DL four days later with strained right groin.
After a second stint, this one only lasting a little longer than two weeks, Soto returned to the Rangers on Aug. 8 following a five-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock. Soto has hit .237 with one home run and three RBIs, striking out 11 times without a walk.
Mariners: Chavez back in lineup Monday
After getting the day off in Sunday's series finale in Boston, veteran right fielder Endy Chavez will be back in the lineup Monday against his former club.
Chavez has hit .407 (11-for-27) with four runs, two doubles, a home run and six RBIs in his last 11 games, but McClendon is being careful to not overuse him and had right-handed-hitting Chris Denorfia in right field on Sunday even against a right-handed starter.
"We have to watch him," McClendon said. "Day-nights are tough for Endy. He's been doing such a great job that you want him in there, but we have to be careful. He's 37. He's not a young pup anymore. We DH'd him yesterday and with the day off [Sunday], he should be fresh and ready to go Monday."
Chavez is hitting .272 on the season and McClendon feels he's played better of late in a more-controlled platoon since the acquisition of Denorfia.
"Ideally, he'd play three-to-four days a week," McClendon said. "Obviously we probably overexposed him from a physical standpoint [earlier]. We've been very conscious of that the last 30 to 40 games. And he's done a lot better."
• The Mariners are 5-7 against the Rangers so far this season, with seven games remaining against their division rivals. Seattle hasn't won a season series against Texas since going 11-8 in 2007.