ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) J.A. Happ probably will never be considered a strikeout artist for the Seattle Mariners.
The hard-throwing lefty will still get his share of Ks.
Happ doubled his season strikeout total with nine in 6 2-3 innings, and Rickie Weeks homered for the Mariners in a 2-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
”He kept them off balance all night, really commanded his fastball and curveball,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. ”His velocity last year was right up there with all the top hard-throwing lefties. I don’t think he had his best velocity fastball tonight, but certainly had real good command.”
Happ (2-1) allowed only one run and walked one. In 20 2-3 innings over his first three starts for Seattle after arriving in an offseason trade from Toronto, Happ had nine strikeouts, three in seven innings of a loss to the Rangers.
”Down in the zone for the most part, able to switch between going down and up pretty well,” Happ said. ”Confidence is a huge thing, and just being aggressive with whatever pitch you’re going to throw.”
Fernando Rodney worked a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his sixth save in seven chances, and second in as many nights in Texas.
Rangers lefty Ross Detwiler (0-3) struck out five while allowing two runs in 5 1-3 innings. He lowered his season ERA from 10.95 to 8.66.
The Mariners went ahead to stay in the fourth after a leadoff triple by Nelson Cruz, who had three hits. Cruz scored on Kyle Seager’s groundout before Weeks’ 150th career homer, his second with the Mariners.
Detwiler, the offseason addition who was a reliever for Washington last year, pitched for the first time in nine days. Texas skipped his previous turn in the rotation during a stretch with off days to allow him to work more with pitching coach Mike Maddux.
”More than anything, he controlled the strike zone for himself. Other than the pitch out over to Weeks, really, I felt like he pitched much better,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. ”It was nice progress for Detwiler.”
Happ struck out the side in the fourth and fifth, though the last strikeout in the fourth came after giving up a single and a walk to consecutive batters with two outs.
Those two runners were the only ones allowed by Happ during a stretch of nine batters when he struck out seven.
Jake Smolinski had a leadoff single in the seventh and scored on a two-out double by Delino DeShields. Smolinski played right field, with struggling Shin-Soo Choo (.096 batting average) getting a night off.
Cruz had a triple and double in the same game for the second time in his career. The other was at Boston in June 2009 while playing for the Rangers. … It was Happ’s sixth career game with at least nine strikeouts, his first since posting a career-high 12 against Baltimore last year.
Mariners: Relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen, on the disabled list since April 13 with a hyperextended right elbow, played catch in the outfield for about 25 minutes before the game. He could throw a bullpen session Friday.
Rangers: 1B Mitch Moreland was scratched from the starting lineup because of tightness in his left elbow. The team said after the game he will have surgery Wednesday to remove loose bodies from his elbow. … LHP Derek Holland said he feels great, but is still about 10 days from being able to play catch. Holland strained his left shoulder after throwing one inning in the home opener April 10. He will not throw again until a scan shows the shoulder is healed. The next scan is expected to be done May 8.
Mariners: Seattle tries for its first three-game winning streak of the season when Felix Hernandez makes his 44th career start against Texas, the right-hander’s most against any team. He struck out 12 to beat the Rangers on April 18, but is 13-21 against them.
Rangers: Wandy Rodriguez makes his second start for Texas since initially joining the team on a minor league deal April 6. The only time he has faced Seattle before, he allowed one run in 7 2-3 innings to win against Hernandez. That was in 2007 when Rodriguez was still pitching for Houston.