Rapid Reaction: Mariners 8, Rangers 6
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers came back from a 6-0 deficit to tie it in the seventh but could not secure the win. Former Ranger Justin Smoak's home run in the eighth was the difference in an 8-6 Mariners' win.
A few quick thoughts:
What it means: The Rangers drop to 86-59 and will wait to see if the Oakland A's beat the Baltimore Orioles. If the A's win, they'll be within two games of the AL West lead. That's the closest the division has been since April 13, when they led by two after a win at Minnesota. ... Texas and Seattle will play the rubber match of the three-game series Sunday. The Rangers have won seven of their last eight series.
Smoak smokes it: With the score tied in the eighth, Smoak hit a 93 mph fastball off Tanner Scheppers halfway up Greene's Hill for a solo shot. The 424-foot home run quieted the crowd after the Rangers had scored five runs in the previous two innings to get back in the game. ... It was Smoak's 15th home run. ... He also drove in an insurance run off Alexi Ogando in the ninth inning.
Down six, Rangers tie it: Down 6-0 after 2 1/2 innings, the Rangers came back to tie it thanks to three runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh. In that seventh inning, Texas got two hits, three walks and an RBI on a ground ball. Ahead by up one run, Seattle decided to intentionally walk Michael Young and bring in a left-handed reliever to face David Murphy with the bases loaded, despite Murphy's .385 average against left-handed pitching. Murphy grounded out to second, but that was enough to score the tying run.
Rough third: Starter Scott Feldman got into trouble in the third and couldn't get out of it. He allowed a solo home run to Dustin Ackley to start things off and then gave up three more hits and a walk. The big one was a two-run triple by Saunders. It was the second time that Saunders had a hit on an 0-2 count off Feldman. Manager Ron Washington came out to get Feldman after just 2 2/3 innings. He gave up six runs on seven hits in that span. Will he make another start down the stretch or will someone take his place?
Perez pitches well: Did Martin Perez make his case to take Feldman's rotation spot? He came in to relieve him in the third inning and got outs, going 4 1/3 shutout innings. He also didn't allow a hit in that span. He had one walk and five strikeouts. ... Perez threw 56 pitches and came out of the game after the seventh inning in favor of Scheppers. ... It was his first outing since facing one batter Thursday and gave up a walk, but in lengthy outings he's been good recently. His last long outing before Saturday was last Sunday in Tampa when he went five innings and gave up two runs (solo home runs to B.J. Upton) in relief of Roy Oswalt.
Hamilton on base three times: Josh Hamilton, feeling better after an injection in his knee after Wednesday's game, had his third extra-base hit in the last two games. He doubled in the first after taking the first three pitches he saw to work the count to 2-1. ... Hamilton had a walk in the third. ... He came up with a runner on first and one out in the eighth and Mariners manager Eric Wedge went with lefty Charlie Furbush, who got Hamilton to fly out to left field.
Napoli returns with a bang: Catcher Mike Napoli returned to the lineup after missing 33 games with a strained left quad and he did so in memorable fashion. With the Rangers down 6-1 and two runners on in the sixth, Napoli crushed a first-pitch fastball 419 feet off the railing in the suites level down the left-field line for a three-run shot that put Texas right back in the game. It was Napoli's 18th home run of the game and he did it right after chants of "NAP-O-LI" from the large crowd on hand. ... Napoli also got on base in his two at-bats before that one. He was hit by an 0-2 pitch in the second and singled in the fourth. ... It was Napoli's first multi-hit game since Aug. 1 against the Angels.
Tidbits: The Rangers intentionally walked Dustin Ackley in the eighth. It's only the 13th time the Rangers have intentionally walked a batter, the fewest number in the majors. ... A total of 47,267 showed up at the ballpark on Saturday. That's the 33rd sellout of the season. ... Don't forget, the Rangers were without key bullpen parts, namely Mike Adams and Joe Nathan.
Up next: LHP Matt Harrison (16-9, 3.36 ERA) takes on RHP Blake Beavan (9-9, 5.01 ERA) at 2:05 p.m. in the finale of the series. It's on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.