Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Perez confident heading into start vs. Seattle

The American League West rival Rangers and Mariners play the second game of their season-opening series Tuesday night at Globe Life Park, with Texas left-hander Martin Perez facing right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. Texas won the opener, 3-2.
Perez, who turned 25 on Monday, is looking to build on a 2015 season in which he went 3-6 with 4.46 ERA in 14 starts after returning from Tommy John surgery in midseason. Two of those starts were against the Mariners -- both at Safeco Field -- and he went 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in 11 innings.
"It's time to compete. Spring Training is done," Perez said. "I feel good. I feel ready. I trust what I have, throw my stuff and do my job. I know my guys are behind me and they are going to support me. I don't care what lineup we face. We need to work as a team and win the game."
Iwakuma beat the Rangers twice in their two meetings last year, and the 34-year-old from Japan has pitched well throughout his career against Texas, going 8-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 14 games. The 2013 All-Star feels the Mariners have improved their defense this season, particularly with a more athletic outfield due to the addition of former Ranger Leonys Martin in center field and Norichika Aoki in left.
"Being on the mound, I feel that a lot," Iwakuma said. "I can rely on the defense more with all my pitches and I feel very comfortable being able to say that."
Things to know about this game
• Perez is 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA in eight career games (six starts) against the Mariners. He's had trouble with third baseman Kyle Seager, who has hit .500 with three homers and five RBIs against him in 20 at-bats. That's the highest average Seager has against any lefty he's faced with at least 10 plate appearances, and it's the most home runs he's hit against any pitcher.
• The Rangers have seen a lot of Iwakuma over the past four years, and the player with the most success against him has been Adrian Beltre (.306 with three homers and five RBIs in 36 at-bats). Rougned Odor has only had 11 at-bats against him, but he's hit .455 with a home run.
• First baseman Dae-Ho Lee, a 33-year-old from Korea who was one of the top power hitters in Japan the past four years, will get his first MLB start for the Mariners. Manager Scott Servais played Adam Lind at first base in the opener, but he will normally use the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Lee against southpaw starters. Lee hit .282 with 31 home runs in 141 games last year in the Japan Pacific League. Lee and Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo attended the same elementary school growing up in Busan, South Korea, and remain close friends.

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