Friday the 13th almost lived up to the hype for the Rangers in Seattle. Joe Nathan was a hair away from blowing his first save in three months as the Mariners rallied to score 2 in the ninth and load the bases before Nathan could strike out Dustin Ackley to end the ballgame.
Derek Holland put together a very good start, pitching 7 2/3 innings, striking out four and not allowing a run. That’s the way you’re supposed to pitch to one of the worst hitting teams in the league. The Mariners didn’t have a starter last night hitting over .269 (Casper Wells). Holland did find himself in trouble in the 4th inning. After Ichiro grounded out to start the inning and Casper Wells singled to left, Holland couldn’t find the strike zone. He walked Jesus Montero, and in the process Wells stole second on a play where he started running before Holland had even started his windup. Holland never even looked at the runner and Wells stole second standing up. After the Walk, Ron Washington came out of the dugout to give Holland one of his “talks.” He only does this to Holland, and for whatever reason, it typically works. This time, Holland walked the next better, Kyle Seager, loading the bases. However, he worked a long at-bat to Justin Smoak, eventually getting a pop-up to short. Nelson Cruz then sealed the inning by making a sliding catch in right that would have definitely scored at least two had it gotten passed him. Holland coasted after that. Going three-up three-down in the 5th and 6th and allowing a single in the 7th and one in the 8th before getting lifted for Mike Adams.
Joe Nathan relieved Adams in the 9th and immediately got Jesus Montero to ground out to second. Kyle Seager singled to right, and then Justin Smoak managed to get a single to left with a broken bat. Then pinch-hitter Jon Jaso singled to right loading the bases. Then it got weird. Michael Saunders hit a sharp ground ball to Michael Young that careened off Young’s shoulder and rolled into foul territory. Seager scored, but Smoak held up rounding third. Saunders thought he could get to second on the error and didn’t realize the runners held up in front of him. He got too far passed first base, and with a heads up play, Joe Nathan ran to cover first, got Young to toss him the ball, and tagged out Saunders before he could dive back safely. Nathan then walked Carlos Peguero to load the bases again, but struck out Ackley for the final out with no more harm done.
The Rangers got 1 of their 3 runs thanks to a clutch two-out RBI-single from Ian Kinsler in the 5th. However, the Rangers ended the inning on the same play when Mike Napoli got thrown out at the plate trying to score an extra run on the base hit. It’s not clear why Napoli was sent home. He was thrown out by at least 5 feet.
Speaking of Napoli, his first game to start the second half didn’t show any signs of improvement. He went 0 for 3 with a team leading 87th strikeout, dropping his average down to .225. The strikeout came with two runners on base and two-outs in the 8th inning. Another opportunity for Napoli to drive in runs came up unsuccessful. He shouldn’t have even been on base in the 5th. With runners on first and second, he grounded into what should have been a double-play. But, the ball was dropped on the transfer at second letting Napoli off with a fielder’s choice leaving him safe at first. Apparently, he was injured on the play at the plate in the 5th and he eventually left the game in the 8th. The Rangers are saying he won’t be catching for, at least, the next two games.
The other Ranger who had a very subpar first half, Michael Young, had a good start to the second half. He went 2 for 4 with a single to center and a single to left. It won’t surprise me a bit if Young just takes off now and finishes the season hitting above .300. He’s just that kind of player. There’s a reason he’s the team captain.
Ian Kinsler added two more hits for the Rangers and Adrian Beltre provided what would end up being the run difference in the game with his 16th homerun of the year, a two-run shot off Seattle starter Kevin Millwood in the 6th.
The Rangers are 53-34 after the win, and they also gained a game on the Angels in the AL West standings thanks to an Angel loss to Satan’s team from the northeast. Yu Darvish pitches tonight against Felix Hernandez at 8:10 CT.