Mariners 8, Rangers 6
The Seattle Mariners are just fine playing the role of
Former Rangers infielder Justin Smoak homered in the eighth
inning and drove in a run in the ninth as the Mariners handed
American League West-leading Texas its second loss in three games
with an 8-6 win Saturday night.
With the loss and an Oakland A’s win, the Rangers’ lead is down
to two games ahead of the surging A’s. Seattle will have plenty of
chances to play a part in the final standings, as seven of their
final 16 games are against the Rangers and A’s.
”It’s a little different for (the Rangers) than last year,”
Seattle starting pitcher Justin Vargas said. ”There weren’t any
teams chasing them last year, but now they’re under the gun a
Smoak had three hits, two runs and three RBIs, helping Seattle
build a 6-0 lead in the first three innings while sending Texas
starter Scott Feldman to the bench after just 2 2-3 innings.
Feldman, who had lost his last five starts going into the game,
threw 71 pitches.
Lucas Luetge (2-1) got two outs for the Seattle victory while
Tom Wilhelmsen got the final four outs for his 27th save in 30
Dustin Ackley homered to lead off the third and Michael Saunders
had a two-run triple. Saunders also had a RBI single in the first.
Smoak scored Saunders with a single and Eric Thames plated Smoak to
make it 6-0. Smoak’s home run was his career-high tying 15th, and
Saunders went 2-for-4 with a triple, walk and three RBI.
”The offense did a great job early on, moving on down the line
and keeping it going,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. ”I feel
like we’ve been swinging the bats well, but not doing a good job
with runners in scoring position. So keeping it going in that one
big inning was big. That and tacking on (a run in the ninth).”
Martin Perez kept the Rangers in the game in relief of Feldman.
He retired 13 of the 15 batters he faced, only allowing a walk and
hitting a batter. He struck out five and became the first Texas
reliever with 4.1-plus innings pitched to allow no hits and no runs
since Mark Brandenburg did the same in 4.2 innings against Seattle
on July 6, 1996.
”I thought he was great,” Washington said. ”The kid came in
and kept the ball down in the zone and had a good change up and was
aggressive. He threw the ball extremely well.”
Texas got on the board in the third after Vargas walked the
bases loaded. Nelson Cruz’s sacrifice fly scored a run for the
Rangers to make it 6-1, but Vargas struck out Michael Young to end
In the sixth, catcher Mike Napoli, in his first start after a
stint on the 15-day disabled list because of a left quadriceps
strain, hit a three-run home run to bring the Rangers within two,
Napoli made his last rehab start at DH on Friday night for
Double A Frisco by going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Going into
Saturday’s game against the Mariners, Napoli joked that he told his
Rangers teammates that he got those out of the way and ”left the
strikeouts down there.”
Cruz had an RBI single in the sixth and David Murphy a
run-scoring ground out to tie it.
With the game tied 6-6 in the eighth, Tanner Sheppers relieved
Perez and Smoak led off the inning with his 15th homer. He then had
an RBI single in the ninth that scored John Jaso. Sheppers (1-1)
took the loss.
”I’ve been working really hard left-handed,” said Smoak.
”I’ve been trying to keep both hands on the bat and shorten it up
a little bit. My swing got long. To come around on a fastball like
that, that’s a good sign.”
NOTES: The Rangers activated both C Mike Napoli and LHP Robbie
Ross from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday. Ross (left forearm
strain) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Friday and could have been
available Saturday evening if needed but manager Ron Washington
said they wanted to stay away from him one more day. After the
game, Texas recalled RHP Justin Grimm and RHP Wilmer Font from
Double-A Frisco to give the Rangers 34 active players for Sunday’s
game. Grimm had a prior stint with Texas from June 16-July 6, while
Font is looking for his Major League debut. .Mariners RF Casper
Wells was a late scratch and was replaced by Eric Thames in right
field. ”He took a swing in the cage an his neck locked up pretty
good on him,” Manager Eric Wedge said about Wells. .Wedge
reiterated that the team is going to give RHP Kevin Millwood time
to recover from shoulder stiffness, plugging in RHP Erasmo Ramirez
and RHP Hector Noesi. ”We’ll see if (Millwood’s) going to pitch
again,” Wedge said.