Rangers ride Ogando to win vs. M's
Alexi Ogando pitched six scoreless innings in his first major league start and Josh Hamilton hit an RBI double as the Texas Rangers remained undefeated with a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
The defending American League champion Rangers are the first team to five wins. The only other undefeated teams are Baltimore (4-0) and Cincinnati (4-0).
Ogando (1-0), a standout reliever last season, struck out four and allowed only two hits in a matchup of first-time major league starters.
Michael Pineda (0-1) kept Texas from hitting a home run, but gave up four extra-base hits over six innings in his major league debut.
Nelson Cruz, who had homered in each of the Rangers' first four games, drew a two-out walk in the second and scored on a standup triple by Mitch Moreland.
Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, had his run-scoring double in the sixth and scored what proved to be the deciding run on a double by Michael Young.
Center fielder Julio Borbon made a diving runs-saving catch to end the seventh after the Mariners had already scored twice against a pair of relievers and had the bases loaded. The ball hit by Milton Bradley was slicing away from Borbon when he fully extended his body to catch it inches off the ground.
Neftali Feliz worked a perfect ninth for his second save in two chances.
The 22-year-old Pineda became the first Seattle pitcher to make his major league debut in a start since Felix Hernandez on Aug. 4, 2005. Pineda, the first Mariners rookie to be in the opening day rotation since Freddy Garcia in 1999, stuck out four and walked one.
Ogando is a converted outfielder who excelled out of the bullpen last season, when he was 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA in 44 appearances before pitching in five postseason games. The 27-year-old right-hander made three starts last summer for Double-A Frisco, but his other 56 minor league appearances were as a reliever.
The Rangers planned to keep Ogando in the bullpen this season, but Tommy Hunter strained his right groin the last week of spring training in Arizona - on the same day he was told he was in the starting rotation. Plus, former NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb isn't ready yet in his comeback from shoulder surgery that has kept him from pitching in the majors since the 2009 opener for Arizona.
Ogando was an outfielder in Oakland's organization before being acquired by Texas in the Rule 5 draft in 2005. But he wasn't allowed into the United States from the Dominican Republic until last year because of visa problems related to marriage fraud and a human trafficking ring involving several Dominican players.
After a two-out walk to Bradley in the sixth, Ogando got a visit from pitching coaching Mike Maddux. A trainer was then summoned to check a smaller blister on Ogando's index finger, but he smiled and stayed in the game.
Ogando then struck out Jack Cust, punctuating the inning-ending out by punching his hand into his glove.
Mark Lowe, traded with Cliff Lee from Seattle to Texas last summer, relieved Ogando to start the seventh. After getting a grounder from Justin Smoak, the first baseman the Mariners got in that deal, Lowe gave up three consecutive singles.
Jack Wilson's RBI single made it 3-1 before 40-year-old Darren Oliver gave up an RBI single to Michael Saunders and Ichiro Suzuki reached on an error by second baseman Ian Kinsler.
NOTES: Smoak was 0 for 4, snapping a 14-game hitting streak. ... New Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre is 0 for 13 since a grand slam Saturday. ... Young made his first career start at first base. It came in his 1,513th career game, which pushed him Jim Sundberg for the second-most games played in team history. ... Saunders badly misjudged the triple by Moreland. The center fielder ran to the warning track and leaped at the wall. Except the ball hit several feet below his glove, then ricocheted hard back into the outfield.