Hard-throwing relievers Matt Bush and Keone Kela protected a one-run lead over the final four innings of the game.
Rangers 3 , Mariners 2 at Surprise Stadium
There was no late-innings comeback for the Mariners on Sunday. The Texas Rangers used big league relievers Matt Bush and Keone Kela to close out the win. Both hard-throwing right-handers worked two scoreless innings each, not allowing a hit and with just one runner reaching base and three strikeouts. Their velocity was a change of pace after the Mariners had to deal with knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa for the first five innings. Seattle scored two runs in the first inning off Gamboa on a Mitch Haniger double and an infield single from Tyler O’Neill. But there was no more offense that followed.
Seattle starter Dillon Overton worked three innings, giving up two unearned runs on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Overton allowed the leadoff hitter to reach and advance to third in each of his first two innings of work, but managed to work out of each jam unscathed. He appeared to have pitched a scoreless third inning when he threw to second base and had Delino DeShields picked off with ease. But second baseman Mike Freeman dropped the ball before he could tag DeShields out. It proved to be a costly error because the hitter at the plate — Carlos Gomez — golfed a 1-1 curveball into left field for a game-tying, two-run homer moments later.
“It’s baseball, it happens,” Overton said. “If he would’ve held on to the ball, it changes the whole inning and I would’ve got out of it. You can’t think about that now. It didn’t happen so there’s no use in dwelling over it. The pitch I made to Gomez, everybody was thinking curveball on our side. I threw the right pitch, it was just the difference between being an inch and a half maybe two inches lower and he wouldn’t’ have hit it. It was already low, it was a ball, which I still don’t know how he it. But he’s a good hitter so he was able to get to it.”
The Rangers took the lead against right-hander Casey Fien, who gave up a massive solo homer to center field off the bat of Ryan Rua to start the fourth inning.
Seattle did get solid relief work from Nick Hagadone, who pitched two innings for the first time this spring. Hagadone worked around a pair of singles in his first inning of work and came back with a 1-2-3 second frame. He has yet to allow a run this spring in six appearances and seven innings pitched.
First baseman Daniel Vogelbach is struggling right now. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He’s now hitting .226 (12-for-53) with a .305 on-base percentage, .321 slugging percentage, two doubles, a homer and five RBI. Perhaps more alarming is the 18 strikeouts and six walks.
“That’s high, there’s no doubt,” manager Scott Servais said of the strikeouts. “He’s a young player trying to make a team.”
Player of the game
Taylor Motter had two of the Mariners’ five hits in the game and scored a run in the game. He also played six innings of the game in left field and finished out at first base as he prepare for the possible utility role on the 25-man roster.
“We are very comfortable with him anywhere on the field,” Servais said. “He’s shown well at short, second and third so we’ll put him in some other spots.”
They threw some good pitching us late in the game. And they kept us off balance with the knuckleballer early in the game. It was one of those days. We’d been figuring out ways to score runs late in games, but it didn’t happen.” — Servais on the game
The Mariners will have Monday off. They will return to action on Tuesday evening with a night game against the Oakland A’s at Peoria Stadium. Right-hander Chris Heston will start that game for Seattle, while right-hander Jharel Cotton will go for Oakland. Lefty Drew Smyly, who was scheduled to pitch that day, will throw in a minor league game at the Mariners complex at 1 p.m.