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Sunday, July 15, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Mariners 0

By Master Tesfatsion



SEATTLE -- Matt Harrison got the Texas Rangers back in the win column, throwing a complete game shutout for a 4-0 win against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on Sunday.

What it means: The Rangers win their first series in the second half of the season and their first series on the road against an American League West opponent. They’re now 1-3 against their division on the road and hold a 15-14 record. The club improved to 3-1 in its last four series on the road and holds a five-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels.

Harrison’s shutout: Unlike the All-Star game where Matt Harrison gave up three runs in an inning, he was a lot more efficient in his first start back from the break. He allowed just five hits in the game compared to the four hits in the All-Star game. He’s now won eight consecutive starts against the Mariners dating to May 1, 2010. That puts him alone in third for the most wins in consecutive starts against an opponent in club history.

Despite four walks and three strikeouts, Harrison managed to put zeros on the scoreboard against a Mariners’ lineup that has struggled at home. It wasn’t an eye-popping performance like Felix Hernandez had Saturday, but Harrison was efficient by putting balls in play where his defense could make a play. It showed, even in the final inning, when Harrison finished his outing with a groundout, a fly ball and a strikeout of Miguel Olivo

Leadoff walk: The Rangers were able to turn a leadoff walk into a run without a hit in the first inning. Ian Kinsler collected a six-pitch walk on starting pitching Hisashi Iwakuma and advanced to second on a passed ball during Elvis Andrus’ at-bat. Groundouts from Andrus and Josh Hamilton gave the Rangers an early 1-0 lead.

Beltre comes through: Following a single and double from Craig Gentry and Andrus that put runners at second and third, Iwakuma walked Hamilton to load the bases for Adrian Beltre. He singled to left, which brought Gentry and Andrus home. Beltre picked up four of the team’s seven RBIs during this series. He went 3-for-4 Sunday.

Double plays: Harrison was the beneficiary of Beltre’s glove, as well. Last year’s American League Gold Glover winner showed why he’s one of the best defensive third baseman’s in the game. He flashed the glove on a couple of hard hit balls, including a lineout from Chone Figgins in the fifth. Beltre was able to cleanly catch the ball and throw Michael Saunders out at first for the double play.

Beltre had an easier time fielding a softly hit ground ball by Brendan Ryan in the seventh. With two on and one out, Beltre connected with Kinsler, who threw a one-hopper to Michael Young to get Harrison out of a jam.

Kinsler homers: Kinsler added to the lead in the fifth inning with a solo shot to left field. His 10th home run this season came on the first pitch of the inning from Iwakuma and made it 4-0. Kinsler finished 1-for-3 with a walk. It’d be the last run Iwakuma allowed in his five innings on the mound. He gave up four earned on seven hits and walked three batters.

Young bats fifth: Young returned to the fifth spot in the lineup while Nelson Cruz batted behind him in the sixth spot. They went a combined 1-for-7 with a walk and a strikeout. They accounted for seven of the 10 Rangers left on base.

Up next: The Rangers will continue their road trip down the west coast against American League West opponents. Following Monday’s off day, Roy Oswalt will take the hill against the Oakland Athletics. Their starting pitcher is to be determined. Game starts at 9:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.