The Rangers scored early and they scored often as they went on to beat the Mariners 8-6 and win their second straight divisional series.
In the first inning, the Rangers were able to score three runs. Quite an accomplishment since they had scored only three runs in all other first innings this year combined. Elvis Andrus started it off with a double, and Prince Fielder was intentionally walked for the fifth time this year, to put two men on with two outs for Kevin Kouzmanoff. Kouz hit a double that scored Andrus, and a single from Mitch Moreland then brought Fielder and Kouzmanoff in to score.
The next inning, Shin-Soo Choo hit his first home run of the year, and extended Texas’ lead to four. Unfortunately for the Rangers, this lead didn’t last long.
Starting pitcher Tanner Scheppers gave up back-to-back homers to Robinson Cano and Corey Hart to tie the game up at four. After giving up a walk to Justin Smoak and a single to Nick Franklin, Scheppers was removed from the game after only pitching 2 ⅓ innings. Hector Noesi came in the game and gave up a double that would allow Smoak and Franklin to score, give the Mariners the lead, and pin all six runs on Scheppers.
“Just not good pitches and they capitalized on it” said Scheppers. “They’re good hitters, they’re gonna hit mistakes, sometimes you just get beat and you gotta tip your cap. Focus on the next one and continue working.”
The Rangers’ responded in the third, as Kouzmanoff and Moreland hit back to back doubles, that would allow Kouz to score, and J.P Arencibia hit a RBI ground out that would bring Moreland home and tie the game up at six.
Kouzmanoff has been a solid part of the Rangers’ lineup since being called up from AAA Round Rock to replace an injured Adrian Beltre, and has hit in every game he’s played with the Rangers. He said during postgame interviews, that he attributes his success to the apple cinnamon oatmeal he eats every morning. If that’s the case, maybe we should get the whole team some.
“He came in here and really made a splash early” said Moreland about Kouz. “He really picked up for Adrian, and that’s some big shoes to fill, and he’s jumped in there and hasn’t missed a beat. He’s done an outstanding job for us so far and that’s what you need. You need a guy like that to come in a pick you up and he’s done that”.
The Ranger’s went ahead in the fifth, after Moreland walked, Donnie Murphy singled, and Leonys Martin laid down a bunt to advance both guys into scoring position. Arencibia hit into another groundout that would score Moreland, while Murphy was able to score in the next at bat on a wild pitch.
“It was one of those games today that was kind of back and forth, back and forth” said Moreland. “We were able to create some opportunities. It seemed like each inning we had something going. It felt like we always had some guys on base creating opportunities and you know, we kept scratching some runs across, and that’s how you win those kind of games. And we were able to do that today.”
In addition to all the runs scored, the Rangers’ win can be largely attributed to the relief pitching. After Scheppers was removed from the game, Hector Noesi, Pedro Figueroa, Jason Frasor, Alexi Ogando and Joakim Soria all game in for the Rangers, and were able to prevent the Mariners from scoring any more runs.
“The bullpen was outstanding” said Rangers manager Ron Washington. “I mean the job that Noesi did, Figueroa and Ogando, then Frasor and Soria, we needed to piece it together and those guys got the job done for us.”
The Rangers this year are something special. With today’s win they are now 9-7 on the season, and have the fourth best winning percentage in the American League. Not bad for a team that’s missing a good chunk of it’s starters. But these guys aren’t misfits, they’re the comeback kids. And they, are ready to fight.
“We kind of proved that early this season so far, with the walk-offs, and the come from behinds, so today was just another game that you can put in that category. We came out and stuck with it, stayed with it, and were able to pull it out.”
The Rangers take on the Chicago White Sox tomorrow for the first game of a three-game series. Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m. CT.