BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Rangers finished the season last weekend with four games in Seattle. The Mariners had been eliminated from the playoff picture prior to the series, and the Rangers of course were effectively eliminated by late April. The result was that these games had the look and feel of spring training. Interim manager Don Wakamatsu gave many of his lineup thoughts in a pre-game interview with Eric Nadel. He planned to give his position players at least one start in the field. The starting pitchers were really looking to solidify their bid for being in next year’s rotation. He also wanted Adrian Beltre to play third base in Sunday’s series finale, perhaps his last Major League game.
Ariel Jurado had a strong outing on Thursday to start the series. He completed six shutout innings, allowing just two hits. He struck out three, but walked none. The Rangers put a pair of runs on the board in their half of the seventh for the only scoring of the night. Ronald Guzman singled home the first run, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa drove in the other the hard way. He was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Mike Moore, Conner Sadzeck and Jose Leclerc finished off the shutout over the final three innings. Jurado is 5-5 with the win, and Leclerc finished the season with his 12th save.
The Mariners came back to win the final three games, as the Rangers’ offense effectively slept through the weekend. On Friday, Martin Perez was the starting pitcher, and he was miserable. He didn’t get out of the second inning, allowing five runs. He deserved a better fate though, as two balls were misplayed, and just two of the runs were earned.
The Rangers trailed 9-0 as they came to bat in the fourth inning, but they made a game of it by scoring six runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Beltre and Nomar Mazara each hit run scoring doubles in the fourth inning, and Robinson Chirinos homered to plate four runs. Elvis Andrus doubled home a run in the fifth inning and later scored on Beltre’s sacrifice fly.
That was as close as the Rangers would get though. Five relievers shutout the Rangers over the final four innings, and the Mariners added three runs off Moore to make the final score 12-6. Perez is 2-7 with the loss.
Adrian Sampson was the Saturday starting pitcher. He is from the Pacific Northwest, so had a host of family and friends in attendance to see him pitch. He did not disappoint. He pitched 6-2/3rds innings, allowing two earned runs and three runs total.
Unfortunately, the Ranger bats were silent. Beltre doubled home the only Ranger run of the game in the first inning. The final score was 4-1, and Sampson is 0-3 with the loss, though he has likely pitched himself into at least strong consideration for next year’s rotation.
Both teams played like they wanted to get Sunday’s game over with quick. It took just 2:14 to play. Yovani Gallardo was the Rangers’ starting pitcher. He gave up two runs in the second inning and a third run in the fifth inning, which he wasn’t able to complete. Drew Robinson homered in the sixth for the Rangers’ only run, making the final score 3-1. Gallardo falls to 8-8 with the loss.
Beltre took the field to warm up for the sixth inning, but was replaced by Jurickson Profar before the inning began. He received a well deserved ovation from the Seattle fans. Beltre played five years for the Mariners, 2005-2009 appearing in 717 games. Perhaps his best friend in the game is Mariners’ pitcher Felix Hernandez, and Beltre went straight to the Mariners’ dugout when he was replaced to be greeted by his friend.
The Rangers finished the season with a 1-6 week to bring their season record to 67-95. That ties them with Cincinnati for the seventh worst record in baseball next season. Cincinnati’s 2017 record was worse than the Rangers, so the Reds pick seventh and the Rangers eighth in next June’s amateur draft.
* Adrian Beltre was selected as the Rangers’ Player of the Month for September. It was the 12th time he has been the Rangers’ Player of the Month.