Red-hot Mariners aim to continue ascent vs. Rangers

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The Seattle Mariners have weathered the storm after being shorthanded due to the suspensions of three key position players.

Now with all three back, the club will look to stay hot entering the opener of a four-game series against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

The Mariners have won 10 straight after sweeping the Washington Nationals in a doubleheader.

Three Seattle players — Jesse Winker, J.P. Crawford and Julio Rodriguez — were suspended for their involvement in a June 26 brawl with the Los Angeles Angels.

“I was hoping we’d keep our head above water, and we did more than that, obviously,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We had a lot of guys step up offensively when we were losing big pieces.”

Servais credited his pitching for the team’s recent success.

“Pitching-wise, it’s been the key for us throughout this run,” Servais said. “Our starters have given us a chance to win on a real consistent basis.”

Winker, who hadn’t played since July 3, homered in each game of Wednesday’s doubleheader. Rodriguez announced he will participate in the Home Run Derby in the All-Star Game festivities in Los Angeles next week.

“I don’t think you ever want to miss six games, but yeah, I took advantage of the time and got some good work in,” Winker said.

Crawford previously had served his suspension.

Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales (5-9, 3.24 ERA) will take the mound in the series opener on Thursday while the Rangers will go with left-hander Martin Perez (7-2, 2.72).

The 31-year-old Perez has been a major pickup for the Rangers, emerging as an American League All-Star after he had a 7-8 mark and a 4.74 ERA with the Boston Red Sox in 2021.

Being named to the AL squad came the same weekend that Perez got engaged to his longtime girlfriend.

“It’s really amazing,” Perez told MLB.com. “Everything just came together. Everything is going the right way. So I’m really happy with my life now. It’s really good.”

Perez has an 8-5 record and 3.42 ERA record in 26 career appearances (23 starts) against the Mariners. He allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings in a no-decision vs. Seattle on June 5.

Texas shortstop Corey Seager had his string of five straight games with a home run snapped in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the Oakland Athletics. The Rangers had won four of their last six games heading into Thursday’s series opener.

Seattle, however, has won four of the six meetings against Texas this season.

Gonzales will make his third start of the season against the Rangers. In his two previous head-to-head outings, he’s 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA. And for his career, the 30-year-old is 8-7 with a 3.75 ERA in 18 starts.

Gonzales has a 2.89 ERA in his last seven starts but has only a 2-4 record to show for it. In his last start, however, he allowed two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings of an 8-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The last time the southpaw faced the Rangers was on June 4, when he gave up three runs in seven innings to take the loss.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.