Kevin Kouzmanoff doubles, scores twice as Rangers beat Mariners
When Kevin Kouzmanoff was riding the buses in Double-A two seasons ago, he kept his focus on returning to the majors and providing the kind of production that he is now delivering for the Texas Rangers.
"You never know what can happen in baseball," Kouzmanoff said after helping the Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 8-6 Thursday. "Here I am. It’s great to be back."
Kouzmanoff hit two doubles and scored twice. Texas lost the opener of the four-game series on Monday night, but won the last three.
The 32-year-old Kouzmanoff is hitting .414 since being promoted from Triple-A Round Rock on April 9 after starting third baseman Adrian Beltre strained his left quadriceps.
Kouzmanoff has hit in all eight games in which he has played, beginning with a pinch-hitting appearance followed by seven straight starts. Beltre was put on the 15-day disabled list Sunday.
Shin-Soo Choo homered for Texas and J.P. Arencibia had a pair of RBI groundouts.
Robinson Cano hit his first homer for the Mariners, going back-to-back with Corey Hart. Cano is in a 3-for-18 slump.
The Rangers broke a 6-all tie in the fifth inning when Arencibia drove in a run with a grounder and Mitch Moreland scored on a wild pitch by Joe Beimel (0-1).
Pedro Figueroa (2-1) was the second of five Texas relievers who held Seattle scoreless. He earned his second victory in less than 24 hours — he was Wednesday night’s winner when the Rangers rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 victory.
Kouzmanoff was a major-league regular from 2007-11 for three clubs before spending the past two seasons in the minor-league systems of Kansas City and Miami. He signed a minor-league contract with Texas in December and hit .370 during spring training.
Kouzmanoff was the Rangers’ last cut in spring training and sent to Round Rock when the club decided to complete its opening day roster with more middle-infield help because second baseman Jurickson Profar began the season on the disabled list.
"I’m not the player that Beltre is. He’s an unbelievable player," Kouzmanoff said. "We all have to do things that are us."
Asked the source of his hot streak, he said, "Eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast."
Texas’ Tanner Scheppers, in his first season as a big league starter, made the shortest of his four starts and was victimized by the big inning for the third time. He took the mound with a 4-0 lead and then gave up six runs in the third while recording just one out.
"It doesn’t feel good," said Scheppers, the Rangers’ eighth-inning setup man for most of last season. "Luckily, the bullpen picked me up. The offense went out and scored runs. You can’t ask for any more than that."
Scheppers said he wasn’t worried about being sent back to the bullpen. Rangers manager Ron Washington echoed that sentiment.
"It’s nothing that has crossed my mind," Washington said. "We know it’s a work in progress."
The Rangers made it 6-all by chasing Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez with two runs in the third. In his last three starts, Ramirez has lasted no more than five innings and allowed 13 earned runs and 18 hits.
Hart reached base four times, with a double and two walks in addition to his team-leading fourth homer. He played right field for his first outfield appearance since July 2012.
"Down 4-0 at one point and to battle back and take the lead, we definitely have fight in this team," Hart said.