Morales, Mariners pound Grimm, Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Justin Grimm came into Tuesday’s game against Seattle having earned wins in his last two starts.

That number was a tad misleading though because Grimm was the beneficiary of solid offensive nights that masked five-inning starts from the rookie right-hander.

There was no masking his performance against the Mariners.

Grimm was blasted for six runs in four-plus innings as the Mariners opened a three-game series with a 9-2 thumping of the Rangers.

Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales set the tone for Grimm in the first inning as each of them ripped solo homers to right. By the time he was pulled after Morales hit his second homer off a Grimm changeup in the fifth, he had allowed seven hits and walked two.

“I left some pitches up and they got a hold of them unfortunately,” Grimm said. “I didn’t execute pitches. I didn’t do my job.”

Grimm, the American League rookie of the month in April, was decent in May and has gone downhill since then. His ERA since a June 4 start against Boston is 9.31 and he’s pitched at least six innings in just one of his six starts in that span. In the one game he went longer than six innings, he allowed seven runs in 7 2/3 innings. The three home runs allowed Tuesday were a career high and he’s also allowed homers in each of his last six starts, giving up one every 3.22 innings in that span.

Tuesday against the Mariners, who Grimm has faced four times this year, he never got going. He allowed the two runs in the first, wiggled out of the fourth by allowing just one run and stranding two runners, and then didn’t get an out in the fifth.

Grimm isn’t reading too much into his prolonged stretch of inconsistent pitching.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I’m learning. When I execute my pitches, I get out and win ballgames. When I don’t stuff happens.”

Texas manager Ron Washington, who’s seen similar ups and downs with Nick Tepesch, believes what his rookie starters are going through is just part of the maturation process.

“When you’re talking about youth, especially on the mound, you’re going to get a lot of inconsistency,” Washington said. “That’s what you’re getting, inconsistency. They’ve shown that they’re capable of pitching up here; we’ve just got to get past the inconsistencies with them. That’s about it. Tonight he (Grimm) made some mistakes with balls he left up and the guys in the middle of the order just didn’t miss.”

As bad as Grimm was, the offense did little to help him against Joe Saunders, who came into the game with a 4.98 ERA. The Rangers had 10 hits off Saunders in his 6 2/3 innings but were only able to score twice against him, and one of those runs was unearned.

The Rangers left nine runners on base and were 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Three double-play grounders also killed any chance at big innings.

“We had our opportunities early that we missed out on, and their offense took off,” said David Murphy, who hit into two of the double plays. “You have to give them credit. By the middle of the game we were playing catch up.”