Leonys Martin, Rangers stun Mariners with fourth walk-off win
Texas center fielder Leonys Martin wound up being the star of a battle of top pitchers.
Martin had a leadoff triple in the eighth that chased Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. An inning later, Martin singled in the winning run with two out as the Rangers scored two unearned runs off closer Fernando Rodney for a 3-2 win over the Mariners on Wednesday night.
”He was in the middle of the first run by hitting the triple off Hernandez, who was outstanding tonight,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. ”And then he comes up in that situation against one of the best closers in the game. He just tried to put the ball in play, and it worked. It’s good for him, it’s good for the team, and we can build on it.”
Rodney (0-1) retired the first two in the ninth before Kevin Kouzmanoff’s single ricocheted off the glove of sliding shortstop Brad Miller and dribbled into the outfield. Mitch Moreland drew a walk before pinch-hitter Donnie Murphy’s grounder was fielded by Miller, whose toss to second base was high. The error allowed Moreland to slide in safely and extended the game.
”It was hit right at me. It kind of ran up on me,” Miller said. ”I threw it too high. I saw it was too high off the get-go. Everybody did their part but me. Everybody played their butts off. I’ve just got to make that play next time.”
Rodney then threw a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score. Martin’s sharp single to left gave Texas its fourth victory in its final at-bat at home already this season. It was Rodney’s first blown save in four chances.
Pedro Figueroa (1-0) worked a perfect ninth for his first major league victory.
Hernandez retired 10 in a row before Martin’s triple. He allowed four hits and one run, when Martin scored on a sacrifice fly against pinch-hitter Michael Choice, the first batter for reliever Charlie Furbush.
”All of my pitches were working. I just made one mistake in the game,” said Hernandez, who struck out nine. ”That was that fastball to (Martin).”
Texas ace Yu Darvish struck eight and walked two in seven innings, but remains winless in his last eight home starts despite a 2.33 ERA in those games.
Darvish didn’t allow a run in his first two starts of the season, but was down 2-0 in the second after No. 9 hitter Mike Zunino and Abraham Almonte had consecutive two-out RBI singles.
”You’ve got to give Seattle credit, they fought him pretty hard for their at-bats, they just wasn’t going up there making outs,” Washington said. ”That was their two runs. … He kept us in the game, he really did. Usually when you give Felix one or two runs, he know how to take it to the house, but we kept battling him and we finally got him out of the game and some good things happened.”
Martin also had a nifty running catch, reaching and lunging with his arm fully extended steps from the center-field wall to rob Dustin Ackley of a hit in the sixth.
But there was also a play in the fourth when Zunino reached on what was ruled a single after a ball dropped between Martin and left fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who were both calling for the ball but backed off to avoid a collision. That was the last of Seattle’s seven hits in the game.
This was the third head-to-head matchup of the star pitchers, and the first since 2012, the same year Darvish came to the major leagues from Japan. Hernandez won the first two, and has given up only two runs over 24 innings (0.75 ERA) in the three games – while Darvish has a 6.75 ERA (13 earned runs over 17 1-3 innings) opposing King Felix.