Mariners Try Something New, Topple Rangers 6-2
The return of Mike Zunino. An episode of Undercover Boss featuring the owner of the Texas Rangers, Kyle Seager. The matchup between the Mariners and the Rangers looked like a favorable one from the start. King Felix was set to face off against old friend Adrian Beltre while Mike Minor was on the mound for Texas.
The Mariners came into the game 9-7 while the struggling Rangers entered Friday 7-13. Coming off a season-worst three-game losing streak, the Mariners looked to right the ship in Arlington.
The first inning started with a flash as, Dee Gordon did as Dee Gordon does, lacing a double that could have easily been a triple had Shane Robinson not cut it off. Jean Segura followed with a single. Solid defense kept the Rangers from a big inning. Shortstop Jurickson Profar (Who really does deserve playing time SOMEWHERE) made a diving stop on a smash-up the middle from Robbie to get the force out on Segura while Gordon scored. Then Cruz hit a ball into the gap but Shane Robinson made an amazing diving catch for the second out.
The M’s had a much quieter first inning and used some fancy defense of their own. A Felix strikeout was sandwiched by a nice running play by Mitch Haniger on Choo and then Cano made a nice diving stop on Nomar Mazara. After the first, the Mariners were already halfway to their final score from Thursday.
The next opportunity arose in the top of the third after an HBP and a bunt from Gordon that Minor couldn’t field. But, alas, the LOB gods struck the Mariners once again. Jean Segura shot a groundball out to Profar at short who then threw Heredia out at 3rd.
After some poor plate discipline, Cano grounded into a double play, leaving the Mariners without a run after beginning the inning with a runner in scoring position. All was right with the world.
Felix was cruising through the middle innings before a couple of base hits derailed his spectacular start. After a Shin-Soo Choo double to lead off the inning and Profar ground ball to move him to 3rd, Nomar Mazara lined a single to left. Heredia may have had a play at the plate had he thrown it however he opted to hold Mazara at first base to keep the double play in order.
Felix was left in to face Beltre and promptly plunked Adrian in the hip to end his night. Adrian acted like he was going to charge the mound and then made his way to first base, bringing Felix’s night to a close. Marc Rzepczynski came on and continued to show that he cannot get anybody out. He gave up a hit that scored Felix’s second run and was then lifted for Nick Vincent, who struck out every batter he faced.
Felix went 5.1 innings with two walks and 5 strikeouts while giving up 2. The Rangers then had the lead after the 6th. Beltre went 0-2 with an HBP and a strikeout against his friendliest enemy.
Finally, in the 8th inning, the Mariners decided to try something new. Since getting hits with runners in scoring position was so last week, Mitch Haniger gave us our 5th Mitch Mash of the year to straightaway center field off of Texas righty Chris Martin. Statcast had it measured at 427 feet and 108 MPH off the bat. The solo shot was the first Mariners run since the 1st inning.
After another slick play from Cano, this one a double play to end the bottom of the 8th, Daniel (MVP) Vogelbach lined a single off of the right-field fence that nearly left the yard. The ball left the bat at 112 MPH and the right field wall was taken to the hospital for evaluation. Andrew Romine came in to pinch run and Guillermo Heredia moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Dee Gordon picked up yet another hit, this one a single to left, that moved Romine to 3rd. He then stole 2nd on the first pitch to Segura.
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*Record scratch* And that’s when it happened. Jean lined a double into right-center that scored both Romine and Gordon, giving the Mariners a 4-2 lead. Keone Kela was on the mound and had worked Segura back from 3-0 to a 3-2 count before the double which was the first earned runs Kela had given up all year. After a Cano strikeout and a Cruz IBB, Kyle Seager continued what he does in Texas, lining a single to right scoring Segura off of Jake Diekman. Diekman has struggled all year and it showed as Haniger lined a single to Left Center scoring Ben Gamel (who pinch ran for Cruz) from third.
All of a sudden, the Mariners owned a 6-2 lead over the Rangers heading to the 9th.
Edwin Diaz came in, in the 9th even though it was not a save situation and out away the Rangers. He struck out the first batter before issuing a walk and then an HBP. He then struck out another batter and got a ground ball to end the game and secure the win for the Mariners. They scored 6 runs on 14 hits over the Rangers 2 runs on 6 hits. Juan Nicasio recorded the W for the M’s and Kela was credited for the loss.
The Mariners fans were graced with amazing defense from Dee and Cano as well as some havoc on the base paths created by Dee Gordon. Kyle Seager continued to do what he does. Having Mike Zunino behind the plate was a breath of fresh air. Although, he did struggle with his timing at the plate. The Mariners break their three games losing streak and earn their 10th win of the season, improving to 10-8. Felix is currently out front of Beltre in their season battle, which is one of the biggest takeaways from the game.
Some notable numbers from today’s game:
Gordon: 2-4, 2B, 2R, SB
Segura: 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI
Cruz: 2-4, 2 2B
Haniger: 3-4, HR, 2RBI
Vincent: 1.1 IP, 4 Ks
Zunino: 0-4, 3 Ks
Next: MLB Power Rankings: Where Do the Mariners Fit?
The Mariners take game one of the series and look to win the series tomorrow at 5:05 PT. James Paxton (1-1, 4.57) will take on the nearly perfect Bartolo Colon (0-0, 1.45).