ARLINGTON, Texas – On a pick-your-poison kind of day at Rangers Ballpark Sunday, the Texas Rangers doubled up on the bad stuff.
Leadoff base runners are normally a recipe for trouble, just like two-out hits. Both of them plagued the Rangers as Seattle edged Texas 4-3.
The Mariners go the leadoff runner on in each of the last five innings and four times that runner scored, with three coming with two outs. The last one proved to be the killer as Kyle Seager worked back from a 0-2 count to double to right off Joe Nathan in the ninth inning to snap a 3-3 tie.
“We had three leadoff walks in a row, in the sixth, seventh and eighth, that always puts you in trouble and you’ve got to find a way to get through them,” Texas catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
That didn’t happen for the Rangers.
Texas ace Yu Darvish walked the leadoff runner in both the sixth and eighth innings and both times they came around to score.
Michael Saunders put Seattle up 2-1 with a two-out double in the sixth inning.Darvish came out to start the eighth at 107 pitches and then walked Seager on four pitches. Kendrys Morales followed with a single but Darvish came back to strike out Justin Smoak.
That was it for Darvish as Robbie Ross came on. Ross got Saunders to fly out for the second out but Dustin Ackley singled to center to put the Mariners back up 3-2.
Just as they did in the fifth, sixth inning, the Rangers answered the Seattle run in the bottom of the eighth.
But Nathan couldn’t keep the Mariners off the board in the ninth after Endy Chavez singled to open the inning. Nathan got the next two batters but walked Nick Franklin on a full-count pitch. That brought up Seager, who collected his 13th RBI against Texas this year on a slider that Nathan threw where he wanted.
“I got ahead of Seager and made a pitch,” said Nathan. “He hit a pitch that was probably going to be in the dirt if he didn’t scoop it out of the ground before it got there. Hats off to him. Again he found a way to find the outfield grass when he needed it on a pitch that out of my hand felt pretty good. I’ll take my chance with those.”
The Rangers put themselves in a tough spot by not getting anything going against Seattle rookie Erasmo Ramirez, who notched his first quality start by pitching seven innings and allowing just one earned run.
He matched Darvish pitch-for-pitch and didn’t have to work out of jams like Darvish.
Darvish, who carried a no-hitter into the eighth in his last start, had just two perfect innings against Seattle and struggled with his command. He struck out seven but also walked four, with two of those coming around to score.
The Mariners had the leadoff runner on against Darvish in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Texas manager Ron Washington had Ross ready to start the eighth but Darvish said he was good to start the eighth.
“He just lost his command,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “Earlier he was spotting it up and then as we got past the fifth inning there, he was just a little erratic with his command. But then again, he was able to pitch around a lot of that trouble also.”
Darvish, who had walked four batters total in his first three August starts, didn’t see anything wrong with his command problems.
“In many games I have trouble with my command, in any inning that I throw, but today it happened to be after the sixth inning,” he said.
It didn’t help the pitchers that the Texas offense didn’t give them much room to work with.
Texas scored 15 runs Saturday but had just five hits Sunday.
Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus each had RBI in the fifth and sixth innings and then Andrus came up with the biggest hit in the eighth, doubling home Craig Gentry to tie the game at 3 with one out. But Andrus was thrown out trying to go to third on a ball in the dirt he thought was going to get by Seattle catcher Humberto Quintero. It didn’t and Andrus was the Rangers final baserunner of the game.