Kyle Seager did what Kyle Seager does very best Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field: absolutely mash against the Texas Rangers.
Seager hit two home runs in two innings to catapult the Mariners in front for good in a 6-5 Rangers loss to their AL West foe. A solo home run from Seager in the seventh inning against Shawn Tolleson cut a Ranger lead to two runs, but it was his three-run blast in the eighth inning off Alexi Ogando that put the dagger in it, spoiling Matt Harrison’s season debut.
Ogando hung an 0-1 changeup to Seager and he sent it hurtling into the seats down the right field line, in almost the same spot as his homer in the previous inning.
Seager is a career .246 hitter with 39 home runs in 1,259 at-bats against all MLB teams other than the Rangers. Against Texas, though, he is a .322 hitter with 11 home runs in 211 at-bats.
For six innings, it looked as though the Rangers had it in hand. A 385-day hiatus from Major League competition didn’t phase Matt Harrison Sunday afternoon in Seattle.
The lefty recorded four different 1-2-3 innings, allowing base runners in only two innings: the fourth and the sixth. He surrendered just two runs on three hits in six innings of work.
Harrison struck out the first batter he faced since April 6 of last season in Michael Saunders, and it was smooth sailing through three innings as he retired the first nine Mariner hitters.
Harrison ran into some trouble in the fourth inning, after a long top of the frame that featured 29 pitches, a mound visit and a change of pitchers. Harry allowed the first two Mariner hits of the afternoon and walked his first two batters of the season in the fourth. Robinson Cano lined an RBI double to the base of the right-center field wall to bring home the only run of the inning.
Harrison struck out Seager with the bases loaded to escape the inning.
After driving in the first Seattle run, it was Cano who scored the second in the sixth inning. He singled with one out, and moved to third on a hit-by-pitch and a fly ball to right field. A two-out wild pitch from Harrison scored Cano to cut the lead to three.
Harrison’s career opponent batting average coming into his 2014 debut was .248 when he is pitching with a lead. The OBA stood at .296 when Harrison was trailing.
The Mariners’ batting average was just .136 against him as they trailed for a majority of Harrison’s outing.
The Rangers gained the early lead with a second-inning rally.
Adrian Beltre hit a ground rule double that bounded over the yellow stripe on the left field wall to lead off the second frame for Texas. Alex Rios followed with a single before Mitch Moreland roped one to right field, scoring Beltre. Mariner right fielder Stefen Romero booted the ball in right, allowing Rios to score from first, giving the Rangers a two-run lead early.
Moreland was credited with just one RBI on the play.
The top of the fourth inning saw the Rangers extend their lead to five runs before Seattle got on the board. Leonys Martin hit a two-RBI single to center field, and Michael Choice tallied an RBI for the fifth straight game with an RBI double to left.
Martin swiped second base in the inning to give the Rangers a stolen base in seven consecutive games.
The five runs didn’t stand up to Seager’s heroics. Texas only put one runner in scoring position after their three-run fourth inning. Michael Choice singled and advanced to second on a grounder, but Beltre flied out to end the inning.
The Rangers went quietly in the ninth against Fernando Rodney, who was erratic in the previous two games of the series.
Houston beat the disvision-leading Athletics 5-1 earlier Sunday. Texas missed on a chance to go up one game for the division lead, but will play Oakland at home for a three-game set starting Monday as the Rangers continue their stretch against the AL West. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. with Yu Darvish on the mound for Texas.