Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Mariners 3
SEATTLE -- David Murphy and Nelson Cruz drove in the go-ahead runs off Felix Hernandez with two outs in the fifth inning, reliever Robbie Ross came up huge in the seventh and eighth behind slogging, fill-in starter Justin Grimm, then Joe Nathan finished the ninth for his 301st career save in the Texas Rangers’ 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on a cold Thursday night at Safeco Field.
|Fitzsimmons & Durrett discuss Nolan Ryan's statement that he is staying with the Rangers. It's good news, but will Ryan stay with the club for the long haul?
Murphy’s two-out, RBI single broke a 2-2 tie. Then, Cruz golfed Hernandez’s split-fingered fastball into the left-field corner for a double that put Texas ahead 4-2 in the fifth.
The Rangers’ 10 hits in Hernandez’s 6⅔ innings were more than they had off him in all of 2012. He allowed them one run and nine hits combined in two victories last season.
The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner lost for the fifth time in seven decisions against Texas dating to the 0-4 season he had against them in 2011.
The Rangers hit Hernandez hard early by being aggressive. A.J. Pierzynski’s second home run as a Ranger, in the second inning, was on the at-bat's first pitch. Mitch Moreland drove the next pitch on a line to deep left field, where Raul Ibanez misplayed it for an error. And Elvis Andrus’ single that scored Moreland came on an 0-1 pitch. Texas had batted around just 1⅓ innings into the game.
Preserving Ross: The Rangers’ left-hander struck out Ibanez with the bases loaded on what appeared to be a slider at 86 miles per hour to end the seventh and keep Texas ahead 4-2. Ross allowed a bloop single by former Rangers’ No. 1 draft pick Justin Smoak, then a bloop double down the same right-field line by Jesus Montero to begin the bottom of the eighth.
After Robert Andino’s RBI ground out made it 4-3, Ross charged off the mound, fielded Brendan Ryan’s suicide squeeze on the run and flipped it option quarterback-style to Pierzynski in one motion. The catcher tagged out pinch runner Endy Chavez for the second out. Ross then struck out Franklin Gutierrez with a man on to end the threat.
Still buds: Adrian Beltre, who won two Gold Gloves as the Mariners’ third baseman from 2005-09, was the first Ranger to swing at a first pitch from Hernandez, four batters into the game. He lined it off third baseman Kyle Seager’s glove for an infield single. After Murphy struck out to end the first inning, Beltre and Hernandez laughed together in the infield grass before the Ranger playfully cuffed the back of the Seattle ace’s head. Hernandez and Ibanez are the only Mariners who were teammates with Beltre in Seattle.
Have we met? Pierzynski and other Rangers yukked it up from the on-deck circle throughout the game with Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. The two defensive backs were sitting in the first row of box seats just to the right of the visiting dugout, wearing matching Mariners game jerseys with their names and NFL uniform numbers.
Up next: Yu Darvish (2-0, 1.98 ERA) says the blister that cut his last start short after five innings is fine to start Friday against Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma. It’s the 10th major league game started by pitchers born in Japan. First pitch is at 9:10 p.m. on TXA21 and 660 AM.
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.