In a unique having-big-shoes-to-fill-with-Kevin-Kouzmanoff-on-the-disabled-list situation that not many Big Leaguers have been put in, Rangers star third baseman Adrian Beltre was put in position to provide heroics.
With the bases loaded after a wild Fernando Rodney walked home two runs, Beltre hit a screaming line drive into the glove of a diving Justin Smoak, who doubled off Elvis Andrus at first base to end the game.
A four-run Seattle eighth inning doomed the Rangers, giving the Mariners a lead that Smoak would not let Rodney concede in the 6-5 Mariner win at Safeco Field Friday night.
Rodney threw just 13 strikes on 27 pitches while recording his fourth save of the season.
The Rangers controlled the game in the early-goings, and entered the eighth inning with a 3-2 lead and the game in the hands of the bullpen. Neal Cotts struggled, however, facing five batters and failing to record an out.
Cotts surrendered a single to Robinson Cano and hit Corey Hart in the left kneecap before a sac bunt attempt turned into a perfect bunt for a base hit and loaded the bases. Former Ranger Justin Smoak turned in a two-RBI double, Kyle Seager hit an RBI bloop single, and the final run of the game scored on an Alexi Ogando wild pitch.
While the two starting pitchers came into Friday’s game with ERA’s of 2.31 and 3.22, and threw a combined 65 percent strikes, it was actually erratic pitching that molded the scoring before the eighth.
Two of the Rangers’ first three runs scored off of wild pitches from Mariner hurlers, including a go-ahead third run in the sixth inning. Robbie Ross hit three Mariner hitters in his six innings of work, tying a club record.
Prince Fielder singled and Alex Rios doubled to put runners on second and third with one out in the Rangers sixth. Donnie Murphy grounded out, but Fielder rumbled home on a wild pitch from Dominic Leone with J.P. Arencibia at the dish, giving Texas the 3-2 lead heading into the penultimate inning.
Beltre smashed an RBI double to center field, scoring Elvis Andrus for the game’s second run in the fourth inning. Andrus walked to lead off the fourth frame.
Beltre was a .266 hitter in his five years as a Mariner, and has been a .278 career hitter against them.
Arencibia ended a 19-at-bat hitless streak with a leadoff double to the base of the right field wall on a 0-1 pitch from Roenis Elias in the third. Leonys Martin advanced him 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt before the Ranger catcher scored on an Elias wild pitch to give Texas the early one-run lead.
The first two Seattle runs came on a two-out, opposite-field double from Cano in the fifth inning. With two out and no one on base, Ross pegged Abraham Almonte with his final hit-by-pitch of the night, allowing the inning to continue.
Willie Bloomquist singled before Cano sent a 3-2 pitch to the wall in left-center to drive home the two tying runs.
Friday’s game featured a total of five hit batters and three wild pitches that brought home runs.
Jason Frasor threw a perfect seventh inning in relief of Robbie Ross, preserving a 0.00 ERA on the year.
The loss ended a three-game winning streak for Texas. The second game of a three-game set with Seattle is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. CST Saturday. Colby Lewis will take the mound for the Rangers.