ARLINGTON, Texas – Seattle knocked Rangers starter Nick Tepesch out of the game, literally, in the second inning. But that was only damage done to Rangers pitching Saturday.
The Rangers got a second-straight combined shutout in a 5-0 win over the Mariners.
Tepesch, the rookie righthander, sustained a contusion on his right (throwing) wrist from a line drive off the bat of the Mariners’ Jesus Montero.
The ball deflected with such force that it rolled deep into right-center. Tepesch threw a few practice pitches but was sent off by manager Ron Washington.
“I thought maybe something was broken, but as I said, he’s a tough kid,” Washington said. “He really wanted to finish, but we couldn’t let that happen. We didn’t know what was going on, so we took him out.”
Tepesch was cruising at the time, having thrown 18 of his 21 pitches for strikes. His reward was a small cut on his forearm caused by the comebacker.
“It could have been a lot worse. I’m just fortunate the results weren’t too bad,” Tepesch said. “It scraped me a little more than getting solid contact.”
The initial medical evaluation showed no fractures and Washington was confident Tepesch would make his next start Thursday in Minnesota. The injury came the day after the Rangers found out Opening Day starter Matt Harrison would need surgery for a herniated disk and would not be back until after the All-Star break.
Derek Lowe was the emergency replacement for Tepesch and turned in a surgical performance in long relief. Lower held Seattle hitless over four innings while throwing just 31 pitches.
“It was outstanding,” Washington said. “He had a good sinker working tonight, moving the ball up and down. He kept us in that ballgame, especially when we were just trying to hold onto a one-run lead.”
That one-run lead was provided by A.J. Pierzynski’s solo home run in the fourth, which stood as the Rangers’ only hit until David Murphy homered with two outs in the seventh.
Seattle starter Brandon Maurer exited after Murphy’s homer, having allowed just the two hits over 6 2/3 but still on the hook for the loss.
The Rangers got to the Seattle bullpen in the eighth with Lance Berkman’s two-run single breaking the game open. Pierzynski followed with another RBI single to hand Jason Frasor a five-run lead to protect in the ninth.
The Rangers have outscored the Mariners 12-0 in the first two games of the series, although the Texas offense still hasn’t kicked into high gear.
“I still wouldn’t say that we’re quite there yet,” Murphy said. “But we’re taking some steps in the right direction.”
The pitching staff, despite a number of injuries, is steaming along nicely. The Rangers have now thrown back-to-back shutouts for the second time this season and have a streak of 21 straight scoreless innings thrown.
The last time the Rangers gave up a run was in the fifth inning of Thursday’s 6-2 loss to Chicago.
Five Ranger pitchers combined for Saturday’s shutout. Joe Ortiz and Tanner Scheppers both sputtered early before righting themselves then Frasor allowed just a walk in the ninth.
The tone was set by Lowe, who earned the win while allowing just one baserunner when he hit Kendrys Morales. Lowe said he stuck with sinkers low in the strike zone and the over-eager Mariners kept swinging at them.
“I felt a lot more comfortable and had an idea where the ball was going to go,” Lowe said. “More importantly, we tried to take advantage of their aggressiveness. To throw 31 pitches in four innings, that’s not just the pitcher. It takes two to tango, so to speak.”