BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Texas beat Seattle Sunday afternoon 12-5 to:
1. Sweep the weekend three-game series with the Mariners.
2. Finish the season with a 15-4 record over Seattle, the most wins ever for a Rangers’ team over a single opponent in a season.
3. Complete the home portion of the schedule with 52 wins to tie the club record.
4. Win its 93rd game of the year, two shy of the club record.
5. Maintain its one game lead over Detroit, who beat Baltimore Sunday 10-6, for the home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Derek Holland (16-5) started and was the winning pitcher for the Rangers. He has received the best run support of any pitcher in baseball this year, around 7.5 runs per start, and the Rangers batters did not disappoint on Sunday. The 16 wins tie C. J. Wilson for most on the staff this year. In contemplation of the playoffs that begin next week, Holland was limited to five innings. He allowed three Mariners’ runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking one. His final ERA for the year is 3.95. The win brought Holland’s record to 10-1, 2.77 since July 7.
Darren O’Day, Michael Kirkman, Mike Gonzalez and Merkin Valdez pitched an inning apiece after Holland departed to finish the game. O’Day and Valdez each allowed a run.
The Rangers backed Holland’s effort with four home runs, one each from Adrian Beltre (30) and Ian Kinsler (31) and two from Yorvit Torrealba, numbers six and seven on the year. That was part of a 13 hit attack on the M’s.
Sunday’s crowd was 43,508, which made the season total a franchise record figure, just short of 3,000,000. Jay Miller, one of the Ranger executives, has always contended that the best promotion for any team is a good team on the field. That’s what the Rangers fielded this season. The attendance record is particularly remarkable with the blistering heat that gripped North Texas this summer. President Nolan Ryan estimates the heat cost the team 150,000 in attendance.
Over the weekend, manager Ron Washington announced that Wilson will start game one of the playoffs next Friday. The rest of the rotation has not been announced yet, and will depend on factors such as whether the Rangers start the series at home or on the road, and who the opponent is.
When Alexi Ogando was pulled after just two innings in his Saturday start, it was generally assumed that Ogando will be the starter deleted from the rotation for the playoffs. Washington however, refuted that assumption, indicating that no decision has been finalized. However, Ogando was a late innings set up reliever last year, and Mark Lowe, a leading candidate to fill that role from the right side, has injured a hamstring and is out for the first playoff series. Lowe’s injury would seem to increase the odds that Ogando will be added to the bullpen for the playoffs.
Texas finishes the season with three games in Anaheim, Monday through Wednesday. Washington has said he is more interested in resting regulars for the playoffs than winning to assure home field advantage. However, Monday’s game presents a dilemma in that the Angels still have an outside chance at making the playoffs as the Wild Card team, and Washington owes it to the other teams in the Wild Card mix to put his best lineup on the field. Wilson will start in Monday’s opener of the series, but Washington has said he wants Wilson to get limited game action to maintain his feel for his pitches and stay sharp. He likely pitches just two or three innings.