SEATTLE SLOWS RANGERS’ CHARGE

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Seattle Mariners took two of three from the Rangers this weekend, while the Houston Astros took two of three from Oakland. Texas lost a game in the standings to the second place Astros, who now trail the Rangers by 1.5 games in the standings and two games in the loss column. Texas has 13 games remaining, while the Astros have 12. The Rangers; “magic number” to eliminate Houston is 12. Third place Los Angeles is four games behind, and the Rangers’ magic number to eliminate the Angels is 10.

Seattle got off to a good start in the first game of the series. They scored three runs off Ranger starter Yovani Gallardo in the second inning to take the early lead. The big blow was a two run double from the bat of Ketei Martei. Texas scored a run in the fifth inning when Prince Fielder walked with the bases loaded. That was the only scoring on the night.

Seattle starting pitcher James Paxton couldn’t complete five innings, so reliever Danny Farquhar (1-4) earned the win. Farquhar was the first of five relievers for Seattle. The last to appear was Tom Wilhelmsen, who struck out two Rangers in pitching a perfect ninth inning to record his 12th save. Gallardo (12-11) took the loss for Texas.

On Saturday, the Rangers scored in their first at bat, their last at bat, and three at bats in between as they routed the Mariners 10-1 with a 14 hit attack. The Rangers scored a run in the first on a Mike Napoli single. Seattle tied it in the second when Franklin Gutierrez homered. The Rangers came back with two more in the bottom of the second to take the lead for good. Seattle starting pitcher Vidal Nuno was knocked out of the game in the third inning. He took the loss to fall to 1-4 on the season.

One, two and three hitters in the Ranger batting order, Delino Deshields, Jr., Sin-Shoo Choo and Adrian Beltre had multi-hit games. Deshields scored two runs and drove in two more, while Beltre drove in three on the night.

Cole Hamels was the Saturday night starting pitcher, and turned in a better than usual performance. He struck out 12, while scattering seven hits over seven innings. The Gutierrez home run was the only one that caused scoreboard damage, and only one other Mariners’ hit went for extra bases. Hamels improved to 4-1 as a Ranger and 10-8 overall. Texas has won seven straight games that Hamels has started.

Felix Hernandez pitched for Seattle on Sunday. Enough said. Actually, King Felix was not his usual overpowering self. He did allow just four hits, but walked four and failed to complete six innings. Still, he gave up just two runs and earned his league leading 18th win of the year.

Derek Holland started for Texas and turned in his third sub-par outing in a row. He had location problems from the beginning, and after four innings, he had thrown more balls than strikes.

Texas scored first on a second inning Mitch Moreland home run. The Mariners came back with two runs in the fourth inning to take the lead. Fittingly with Holland’s mound woes, the second run scored on a wild pitch. Texas tied the game at two with a run in their half of the fourth inning, but the roof fell in on Holland in the fifth inning. A leadoff double was followed by a sacrifice bunt. That proved to be the only out of the fifth inning that Holland would record. A double scored one run, but the big blow of the inning was a three run home run from Robinson Cano. Franklin Gutierrez also homered.

When the dust had cleared, Seattle led 8-2. Holland was in the Rangers’ dugout having allowed seven runs on seven hits. He also walked five as 12 of the 22 batters he faced reached base.

9-2 was the final score. Holland took the loss to fall to 3-3.

Despite losing the series to Seattle over the weekend, it was a very successful week for the Rangers. They went 5-2, while Houston went 2-5 allowing Texas to take over first place after picking up three games in the standings.

Texas now has their last scheduled off day on Monday. On Tuesday, they open a three game series in Oakland, which will be followed by a three game series in Houston next weekend. It’s the final road trip of the year for Texas. The announced starting pitchers for the Oakland series are: Martin Perez (3-5) against Sean Nolin (1-1) on Tuesday; Colby Lewis (16-8) verses Felix Doubront (2-1) on Wednesday; and Yovani Gallardo (12-11) faces an Oakland starter to be named later.

Houston opens a three game series against the Angels on Monday night. Jered Weaver (7-11) pitches the opener for L. A. against Dallas Keuchel (17-8). They’ll be followed by Lance McCullers, Jr. (5-6) verses Hector Santiago (8-9) on Tuesday and Mike Fiers against TBA on Wednesday.

NOTABLE:

* The Mariners won the season series with Texas 12 games to seven.

* The Ranger bullpen pitched 21 innings this week, allowing just four runs on 14 hits, for an ERA of 1.71.

* Texas has scored 104 first inning runs, second most in the Majors behind Toronto’s 124. 104 is the most runs the Rangers have scored in any inning.

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