The Rangers were down to their final out with the bases uninhabited against Fernando Rodney, the hard-throwing, crooked-hat-wearing Mariners closer before a two-out rally plated two runs, with a Leonys Martin single making it their fourth walk-off win of the young season.
Kevin Kouzmanoff singled past the shortstop to start the Ranger rally. Mitch Moreland walked to put runners on first and second for Donnie Murphy, who rolled what should’ve been the game-ending out to short. Brad Miller’s flip to second, however, soared high and pulled Robinson Cano off the bag, allowing Moreland to slide in safely and leave the bases loaded.
A wild pitch from Rodney plated the first ninth-inning run before Martin floated his single into shallow left field to put the finishing touches on the comeback.
“The first fastball he threw cut a little bit, and the second fastball sunk a little bit,” Martin said. “The third pitch he threw a straight fastball and I hit it. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
"Tremendous," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's why you play nine innings."
Martin was a catalyst in the first Texas run as well, as he led off the eighth inning with a triple to the right-center gap against Hernandez. The three-bagger chased Felix from the game before Martin scored the first run in that penultimate inning.
Yu Darvish was in danger of suffering his first loss on the season despite giving up just two runs in seven strong innings and striking out eight Mariners.
A one-out triple by Nick Franklin and a two-out walk of Dustin Ackley led to the two Seattle runs in the second inning, as Mike Zunino and Abraham Almonte each poked two-out, RBI singles.
Darvish threw first pitch strikes to 23 of the 30 batters he faced Wednesday night. Seattle hitters swung at the first pitch eight times, but only one time after the fourth inning. Darvish said he and Chirinos changed their game plan with the early swings.
“I had to have really good communication with Chirinos during the game. We both knew that they were trying to hack early,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “He was calling a lot of fastballs and sliders. We talked and I told him that I had other pitches as well. After that, we were able to get on the same page and throw a lot of effective breaking balls.”
While the error and wild pitch kept the ninth inning alive for Texas, the biggest break for the Rangers Wednesday night might have been Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon pulling Hernandez in the eighth inning with only 96 pitches.
“I was pretty surprised, I think it was early because of his pitch count. But if I was the manager for the Mariners I would have taken him out in the fifth inning,” Darvish joked after the game. “Give the Rangers a better chance to win.”
Hernandez threw 7.1 innings, allowing just the one run while striking out nine Rangers. Washington said it was, in fact, Darvish that gave the Rangers a chance to win.
“He just kept battling,” he said. “He kept trying to find what was working, and he did. He just bent, he didn’t break.”
Jason Frasor pitched a scoreless eighth inning before Pedro Figueroa came in for the top of the ninth inning, throwing a 1-2-3 frame to earn his first major league win.
The victory gives the Rangers back-to-back wins for just the second time this season. They have a chance to win the series against Seattle in a matinee game Thursday. First pitch is slated for 1:05 p.m.