Mariners left-hander Roenis Elias will aim to snap a personal three-game losing streak when Seattle opens a four-game series Thursday against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Having finished off a series victory in Oakland, the Mariners are within a half-game of the second American League Wild Card spot -- held by the Tigers -- and have pulled within 3 1/2 games of the second-place A's in the AL West.
Looking to limit his innings count, the Mariners had Elias make one start with Triple-A Tacoma on Aug. 13, then recalled him less than a week later. So began the skid.
In three subsequent starts, Elias has received just two total runs of support while posting a 2.40 ERA over 15 innings.
His last time out, he had the ill fortune of opposing Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who held the Mariners to a single run over 7 2/3 innings. Elias countered by allowing three runs (two earned) over six innings, but the Mariners eventually fell, 3-1.
Elias fanned five and walked two.
"That's the best he's been in a while -- especially in the latter stages of his outing," said acting manager Trent Jewett, who filled in for Lloyd McClendon. "Everything was working for him."
Elias, a Cuban defector, made the jump to the big leagues this season after spending 2013 with Double-A Jackson, and he's starting to reach uncharted territory in terms of workload. Among Major League rookies, Elias ranks second in starts (26) and innings pitched (149 2/3). His previous high in innings pitched came in 2012, when he reached 148 1/3 frames for Class A Advanced High Desert.
"I've been feeling well," Elias said through a translator after his last start. "For the amount of pitches that I've been throwing, I feel strong."
The Rangers will answer with left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. after he was moved up a day in the rotation because Scott Baker, who was scheduled to pitch Thursday, is dealing with a stiff neck. Baker will pitch Friday instead.
In his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock, Ross threw five shutout, no-hit innings in a 2-0 loss to Houston on Saturday. He walked three and struck out five. Thursday's start will be just Ross' third since mid-May after beginning the season in the starting rotation.
In four appearances (two starts) against Seattle, Ross is 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 1/3 innings. On the season, Ross is 2-5 with a 5.63 ERA.
Mariners: Decision coming on Young's start
McClendon and pitching coach Rick Waits watched a pregame bullpen session by veteran pitcher Chris Young on Wednesday morning in Oakland, and they now will make a decision on whether he makes his next start Saturday in Texas.
McClendon has expressed concern about Young being fully healthy after he lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his last start while giving up five runs to the A's on Monday in a 6-1 loss. The veteran has allowed 11 hits and eight runs with seven walks and two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings over his last two starts, and he was given three extra days of rest before his last outing as the club looks to keep him fresh after he missed almost all of 2013 with shoulder issues.
Young is 12-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 27 games this season and has been a big part of the Mariners' success, but top prospect Taijuan Walker is lined up to pitch Saturday if needed after throwing six innings of one-run relief following Young's departure Monday.
McClendon said he'll sit down with general manager Jack Zduriencik on Wednesday and have a decision by Thursday.
"He had a good bullpen. He threw the ball good," McClendon said. "I just want to make sure he's healthy. That's the only factor that really comes into play."
Rangers: Darvish unlikely to return in 2014
Injured ace Yu Darvish has yet to resume throwing with just 23 games remaining and his return to the mound this season remains unlikely. He will meet with the Rangers' team physician on Thursday.
"The calendar is working against us here," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's going to be a common sense decision, probably leaning toward not taking a chance with it."
He added: "We'll wait to see what the doctor says and determine the next steps."
Darvish was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 13 with right elbow inflammation. The right-hander has a 3.06 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 144 1/3 innings.
• With Oakland left-hander Jon Lester pitching Wednesday, Mariners utility outfielder Endy Chavez got a well-deserved day off. In his last 19 games, Chavez has a .381 batting average (16-for-42) with six doubles, one home run, 12 RBIs and a 1.065 OPS.
• Seventeen of the Rangers' final 23 games are at home.
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.