Rangers 6, Mariners 0
Nothing is slowing down the Texas Rangers’ run to their first AL
West title in 11 years.
Not bankruptcy. Not one of the most contentious, drawn-out sales
of a professional sports team. And certainly not the dreadful
David Murphy hit his second go-ahead home run in two nights,
this one to break through against Felix Hernandez, and Tommy Hunter
resumed his excellence as the Texas Rangers cruised to a 6-0
victory over Seattle on Thursday night.
Murphy drove in the game’s first two runs with his seventh homer
of the season in the seventh, on a first-pitch fastball from
Seattle’s $78 million ace.
”He’s a guy you’ve got to get early. You don’t want to face him
with two strikes,” Murphy said of Hernandez, last season’s
runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award. ”I was just looking for
Up describes Hunter, again. The 24-year-old right-hander (9-1)
had lost for the first time this season in his previous start,
allowing eight runs at the Angels. That was five more runs than
he’d allowed in any of his first 10 starts after debuting on June
On Thursday, he pitched 6 2-3 scoreless innings against the
worst offensive team in the major leagues to up the Rangers’ lead
in the AL West to a season high-tying 8 1/2 games over the idle
This time, he used more changeups than he said he’d ever thrown
to baffle the easily fooled Mariners with runners on base.
Hunter credited veteran catcher Bengie Molina, acquired from San
Francisco in a trade last month, for righting him.
”I just go with him,” Hunter said of pitch selections. ”He
got me out of a lot of jams tonight. He’s GOOD.”
The Rangers also welcomed the news that they were approved
Thursday to exit bankruptcy following the auction of the franchise
and sale to a group led by Texas hero Nolan Ryan the night before.
They begin a three-game series at Oakland on Friday.
Hernandez (7-9) lost his fourth consecutive decision – even
though his ERA remained steady at 2.94, sixth-lowest in the AL.
Seattle has gone 18 innings since last scoring while he’s been on
the mound, and has scored nine runs total in his nine losses.
An example of such nonsupport: Russell Branyan and Franklin
Gutierrez singled to begin the sixth. But then baseball’s worst
offensive by nearly all statistical measures got in succession a
pop up by Jose Lopez, a fielder’s choice grounder by Adam Moore, a
pop out by Michael Saunders – and the latest in a season-long
chorus of boos.
Embattled manager Don Wakamatsu just stared and then walked back
down into the dugout without an expression over another opportunity
Seattle finished 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position,
stranding 10 baserunners.
”You’ve got to score runs to have a ballgame,” a
frustrated-sounding Wakamatsu said. ”We’re not getting the job
Then it got worse. Following a single by Vladimir Guerrero to
begin the seventh, Murphy drilled a 95 mph, first-pitch fastball
deep to left field. Saunders ran back, looked and turned, then
slammed into the wall with his right shoulder while trying to track
the ball. The impact jarred Saunders from extending his glove as
the ball went over it and the top of the wall for a 2-0 lead for
”Just my luck,” Hernandez said.
He allowed eight hits with those three runs in 6 2-3 innings. He
walked one and struck out three, tying a season low.
Such a rally is often all that is needed to subdue these
Mariners. Seattle scored fewer than three runs for the 51st time in
109 games this season.
No wonder it is 40-69 and 23 1/2 games behind the Rangers.
The lone Seattle bright spot: Franchise cornerstone Ichiro
Suzuki caught a fly ball at the right-field line in the second
inning. He then let his momentum carry him to the railing of box
seats, where he handed the ball to a stunned, grade school-aged
boy. The boy raised the ball and his other hand in the air
triumphantly, turned to the rest of the crowd and held his mouth
agape, amazed at his souvenir delivered by a superstar.
NOTES: Suzuki had two doubles to pass Hall-of-Famer Pee Wee
Reese for 181st all-time in hits. Suzuki has 2,171 hits in 10
seasons. Reese had 2,170 in 19 years, ending in 1958. … Texas RHP
Darren O’Day pitched a scoreless eighth and now has 23 1-3
consecutive scoreless innings over his last 25 appearances. That’s
the longest active scoreless streak in the majors. … Saunders
later left the game and Wakamatsu said his jammed shoulder and neck
would be evaluated Friday.