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It seems all Seattle Mariners pitcher Justus Sheffield needed was a little confidence.

Sheffield(1-2, 4.12 ERA), winless in his first nine major-league starts, finally got untracked with a victory against Colorado on Aug. 9, pitching six scoreless innings without walking a batter and striking out seven. He followed that with a no-decision in Houston despite allowing just two runs (one earned) on six hits in six innings, with one walk and four strikeouts.

The 24-year-old left-hander is scheduled to start again Saturday night when the Mariners host the Texas Rangers. He’s 0-0 with a 6.00 ERA in one career relief appearance against the Rangers.

“He’s throwing strikes and he’s getting his fastball to the glove side, which has opened up his slider off that,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Sheffield. “We are really excited with the growth and where he’s headed. The projection, it’s going in the right direction. Hopefully, he’ll continue to build on those. Once you start getting to three, four or five of those types of outings together, your confidence should grow. He’s got a ton of confidence right now.”

In a sign of maturity and poise, Sheffield limited a Houston rally to one run after an infield error.

“You have to dig deep,” Sheffield said. “I just take a step off the mound, catch my breath and get back to work. You know things are going to happen.You’ve got to expect them to happen and not let them take over your game. I just wanted to continue to make my pitches.”

The Rangers are scheduled to counter with right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-2, 7.52) whose results over his past two starts have been the opposite of Sheffield’s.

Lyles has allowed 10 earned runs over nine innings in his past two outings. He’s 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA in seven career appearances against the Mariners, including five starts. He took a no-decision on Aug. 12 against Seattle, allowing four runs on six hits over five innings with four walks and four strikeouts.

“Overall, I need to do a better job preventing that crooked number,” Lyles said after his most recent start in San Diego, a 14-4 loss Monday in which the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a grand slam with a 3-0 count and a seven-run lead in the eighth inning, breaking one of baseball’s unwritten rules.”I’ve got to stop putting our team in a bad spot.”

Rangers left-hander Kolby Allard did that Friday night in the series opener, unable to make it out of the first inning of a 7-4 defeat, Texas’ sixth loss in a row.

“In the last little while, it’s like we just cannot stop the bleeding,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “We keep giving up hits, keep giving up hits. We have to get guys out of the game. We were in a bind right there, getting into the bullpen in the first inning, that’s never a good thing.”

Rangers outfielder/designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo is expected to miss a few games with ‘mainly a calf issue,'” Woodward said. “He’s just kind of banged up for a bit.”

–Field Level Media