It was a close game for the Rangers, but a solo home run from Shin-Soo Choo in the fifth gave the team the extra push they needed to defeat the Mariners 4-3.
After Daniel Robertson earned a leadoff walk in the first, Elvis Andrus hit his second blast of the year to give the Rangers an early lead. Back-to-back singles from Choo and Adrian Beltre were followed by another single from Rios that would score Choo and give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
The Mariners tied the game up in the fourth, when James Jones lead off with a triple, and came in to score off a Michael Saunders single. Robinson Cano followed with a two-run homer of his own in the next at-bat to momentarily tie the game up at three.
The Rangers have struggled to win games this season when the other team scores first, so Wednesday’s power first inning is really what helped set the road to a victory. Andrus, whose home run put the first two runs on the board, said that continuing to score early could help the team win more games as they head out on a ten-game road trip.
“We have to try to score first” said Andrus. “Every time we score first, we play better and have control of the game. I was glad that ball went out, and it’s all about helping the team win games.”
It was a quality start for Nick Tepesch, who threw 6.1 innings and gave up only five hits, as he went on to win his first game of the year since being moved up from Triple-A Round Rock. As of late, Rangers’ starters, with the exception of Yu Darvish, have struggled to go late in the game, but Tepesch was able to regroup and get the outs he needed after giving up three runs in the fourth.
“He’s got that slider working, he was able to locate his sinker, and I think he got about 14 groundouts today” said Manager Ron Washington. “With that going on and him commanding the baseball, I think that’s the difference right there.”
Robbie Ross, Neal Cotts and Joakim Soria all came in as relief for Tepesch, as Soria earned his fifth save of the year. It was Ross’s first appearance out of the bullpen since being removed from the starting rotation, and the two pitches he threw lead to a double play to end the inning. Though Ross says he would eventually like to start again, his first relief appearance since last September brought a nice rush of nostalgia.
“You just go out there and wipe the slate clean and try to go at it” said Ross. “You remember the things you did last year and try to do it, but at the same time you get all amped up again. I just went in there thinking that I’ve got to get Tep out of this inning, and I’m glad I could help him.”
The Rangers have only won one game in each of their last five series, so it’s easy to say that Wednesday’s game was only a faint glimmer of hope. The team knows that they will have to produce as they head out to play the Tigers, Twins, and Nationals, but at the same time they aren’t letting any of the negativity, or injuries, distract them from their goal.
“We’re focusing on the things we need to focus on, not the negative stuff” said Rios. “We are focusingon what we have on the field, there’s a lot of people putting attention on the downs we’ve had, but we’re not putting any consideration towards that.”
Thursday, the team will face off against former teammates Ian Kinsler and Joe Nathan for the first time. Game time is slated for 12:05 p.m. CT.