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American League Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, September 14th (All times eastern)

Seattle Mariners (69-75) at Texas Rangers (85-58), 8:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Seattle - Hisashi Iwakuma (6-4, 3.39) Texas - Yu Darvish (14-9, 4.14)

(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers should have slugger Josh Hamilton back in the lineup on Friday when they open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Hamilton, who leads the majors with 41 home runs and 121 RBI, was forced to leave Wednesday's contest with a knee injury and he missed his team's 5-4 loss on Thursday to Cleveland.

The Rangers actually led that one by two in the ninth, but closer Joe Nathan surrendered two home runs and absorbed the loss, snapping a single-season and club record streak of 31 straight converted saves.

"It was more location today ... falling behind in the count and throwing balls in the middle of the plate," said Nathan. "You can't do that."

Texas, though, still leads the American League West by three games over the Oakland Athletics.

On Friday, the Rangers will turn to Japanese righty Yu Darvish, who is 14-9 with a 4.14 ERA. Darvish did not get a decision on Saturday against Tampa Bay, but he pitched well, surrendering one earned run and two hits in eight innings of a 4-2 win. He also struck out eight to give him 196 on the season and could become the 16th rookie to fan 200 since 1900.

"I had no idea what to expect as far as strikeouts," Darvish said. "I had no idea how many strikeouts I would get. In this game, it's not about getting the most strikeouts."

Over his last three starts Darvish is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA.

Darvish lost to the Mariners the last time he faced them and is 1-2 in three starts against them this season with a 9.00 ERA.

Seattle, meanwhile, will counter with a Japanese hurler of its own in Hisashi Iwakuma, who lost for the first time in six starts on Saturday. Oakland reached Iwakuma for five runs (4 earned) and six hits in 3 2/3 innings of that one, dropping him to 6-4, while raising his ERA to 3.39.

Iwakuma is 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA in two games (1 start) versus the Rangers.

Both Darvish and Iwakuma helped Japan win the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and will oppose each other for the first time in the majors.

"We are friends, and sometimes we get dinner together and sometimes we talk on the phone," Iwakuma said through an interpreter. "I'm looking forward to pitching against him.

"Of course, it's fun waiting to face each other at the major league level. In Japan, we played against each other a couple games. So we expect that, it's just now we're here."

Iwakuma will be trying to help Seattle bounce back from a loss to Toronto on Thursday. The Mariners had taken the first two games of the three-game set, but were denied a sweep in the 8-3 setback.

Felix Hernandez (13-8) was hammered for seven runs on 10 hits and a walk through just four innings for the Mariners, who have dropped four of six.

"The Blue Jays were hitting today," said Seattle catcher Jon Jaso. "They were swinging the bats well."

Texas has won seven of its 13 matchups with the Mariners this season.

09/14 10:40:59 ET