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OAK@TEX: Washington on Grimm's start, offensive surge

Justin Grimm's season ERA could be represented in a fairly straight line. It's just going in the wrong direction.

Much like the entire Rangers pitching staff, which got off to a lightning-fast start before tailing off in the warmer weather, Grimm has found himself in deep water of late.

He posted a 1.59 ERA in April, a 5.05 ERA in May and a 9.00 ERA in June.

He'll make his first start of July as the Rangers host the Mariners in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday.

"I need to execute pitches," Grimm said. "I've been getting caught up in focusing on this or that, and I need to focus on executing pitches. Just keep it simple."

On the positive end, the 24-year-old has won his last two starts. He allowed three earned runs over five innings in each of them.

"I feel strong and confident," he said. "I feel good mentally. It's Seattle. ... they've seen me here or there, but if I'm executing my pitches, I'll get them out."

Seattle is the only team Grimm has beaten more than once in his career.

The Mariners could be without a handful of regulars for the series. Outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Morse are on the disabled list, while Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders have been limited due to finger injuries.

"We just have to stay put with the guys. The other day when things started happening, I had [shortstop] Brendan Ryan on call -- he's played out there [in the outfield] before, so just in case," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge.

Joe Saunders takes the mound with an 0-7 record and 9.91 ERA in seven career starts at Rangers Ballpark. That's the third highest for pitchers with at least five starts in Texas.

"You know it's going to be hot, you know it's going to be steamy, and you've just got to try to hydrate the best you can," Saunders said. "You know you're going to sweat off a lot of water weight, so you've just got to prepare. You've just got to go out there and execute your pitches. Keep the ball down the best you can and throw strikes."

Ian Kinsler has four home runs off Saunders, the most by any opposing hitter.

Rangers: Scheppers gets rare time off
Tanner Scheppers, who pitched about an inning every other game for the Rangers through the first three months of the season, needed three days off before making his most recent appearance out of the bullpen.

He shook off some rust on Sunday.

Scheppers gave up a walk and two hits, allowing two earned runs without getting an out.

A valuable piece out of the Rangers' bullpen this season, Scheppers said he isn't hurt, but the team wanted to give him some extra rest.

"He has been taking on a huge workload, and we decided to back off him," manager Ron Washington said. "I certainly don't want him trying to battle through something and cost us more time. I'd rather give him time down now."

Mariners: Ackley on the mend
Ackley hopes to return within a couple of days after spraining his thumb while making a diving attempt in center field, his new position.

"I think it's more now just getting over the soreness of it," Ackley said Sunday. "Hopefully that's only a couple days. It kind of jammed back when it got caught up under there when my glove went down. Just one of those things where I just have to wait now. I can't do a lot, just ice, and hopefully the off-day will really help things. Maybe after [Monday], I'll be ready to go."

Worth noting
• The Rangers' Lance Berkman, dealing with a sore right knee, missed his third straight game Sunday, but he hopes to return to the lineup Tuesday.

• Mariners right-handed reliever Stephen Pryor threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session Sunday as he continues working back from a torn muscle behind his right shoulder.

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