Mariners’ Vasquez struggles against Rangers again

Mariners rookie Anthony Vasquez got to start in his home state

for the first time. And the left-hander had no better luck against

the Rangers this time.

Vasquez gave up five runs and seven hits, including three home

runs, over only 3 1-3 innings in the Mariners’ 5-3 loss Friday

night against the Rangers, who a couple of hours later clinched

their second consecutive AL West title after the Los Angeles Angles

lost.

For the lefty from San Antonio, being back in Texas wasn’t that

a big of a deal.

”It was the same as any other. It’s not like I had 100 people

here rooting me on. You’ve got to focus on keeping your team in the

ball game,” Vasquez said. ”I felt good, it’s a matter of

executing pitches. That’s where I got myself in trouble.”

Vasquez (1-5) had a pitching line all-too similar to his

previous start, in Seattle last Saturday against the Rangers. He

also gave up five runs, seven hits and three homers while going

only three innings in that game.

”I thought his breaking ball was pretty good, but same thing

we’ve been talking about with him – fastball command. Without that,

it’s hard to utilize your changeup,” manager Eric Wedge said. ”He

has to command the ball. That’s what he’s done in the minors. We’ve

seen small stretches up here, but we haven’t seen him do it

consistently up here. That’s what he has to work on.”

On Friday night, only two of the Texas home runs went over the

fence – long drives by Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton.

With one out in the fourth, Craig Gentry hit a liner to

left-center that went to the wall after splitting the gap between

two outfielders. Left fielder Mike Carp and center fielder Trayvon

Robinson both made diving attempts for the catch, Robinson a few

feet behind Carp.

”Carp’s the guy that has a chance at that ball and Tre has to

pull behind him,” Wedge said. ”You can’t both go for the ball

right there. Carp had the angle, and when that happens, Tre has to

circle behind him and back him up.”

The speedy Gentry initially wasn’t even running full speed, and

made a stutter-step rounding first base before realizing the ball

was rolling to the wall. He then took off and scored standing up

for his first career homer and the first inside-the-park homer for

the Rangers since Nelson Cruz at Oakland on Sept. 4, 2006. Cruz was

on base when Gentry got his.

”We did exactly what we were supposed to do, which is attack

the ball. We both felt we could get it,” Robinson said. ”Thank

God we didn’t collide with each other or we probably wouldn’t be

talking right now. I thought it was a good effort. Next time, we

just need to use a little more communication. It fell right between

us. It looked like a movie on the replay.”

That made it 5-0 and chased Vasquez, who pitched one season at

Texas A&M before transferring to USC.

Vasquez has given up at least five runs in five of his six

career starts and has an 8.89 ERA.

Rangers starter Matt Harrison (14-9) retired 15 of the first 16

batters he faced until four consecutive Mariners reached to start

the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki had an RBI single before Robinson walked

to load the bases. Dustin Ackley and Miguel Olivo followed with

consecutive sacrifice flyballs.

It was the team-leading 61st RBI for Olivio, who also leads the

Mariners with 18 homers. No catcher has ever led Seattle in homers

or RBIs.

Harrison allowed three runs over six innings, giving up three

singles and walking two. The left-hander is 4-0 in September, and

6-1 in his career against the Mariners.

Notes: Seattle is 4-13 against the Rangers this season. . …

Mariners ace Felix Hernandez (14-13, 3.32 ERA) makes his last

scheduled start of the season Saturday. His is fourth among AL

starters with 220 strikeouts and 230 1-3 innings a season after

winning the AL Cy Young Award with a 13-12 record. … Alexi Ogando

(13-8, 3.58), given extra rest down the stretch by the Rangers,

makes only his third start of September. … Mariners SS Brendan

Ryan (back/neck) and OF Casper Wells (sinus affecting equilibrium)

are not with the team, and manager Eric Wedge said they are

doubtful to play again this season. SS Luis Rodriguez didn’t play a

night after a hand injury in the ninth inning at Minnesota.