ARLINGTON, Texas — Perhaps it was fitting that the Mariners’ final game in the wind-swept mausoleum that is Globe Life Park, a place where quick-paced games and mistake pitches disappeared and were never heard from again, was a 3-hour, 39-minute, pitch-filled, baserunner-laden marathon of an 11-3 victory with temperatures on the sun-baked field at more than 100 degrees.
With the victory, the Mariners’ overall record at the stadium first known as The Ballpark in Arlington improved to 100-126. The Mariners’ first game here was June 13, 1994. In a 17-9 defeat — also fitting — Ken Griffey Jr. hit a grand slam and drove in six runs in the setback.
For Seattle manager Scott Servais, who worked for the Rangers from 2006 to 2011, serving as the senior director of player development, this was the place where he managed his first game and got his first managerial victory April 5, 2016.
“Oh my gosh, what a game,” Servais said of the contest Sunday. “What a long one. We’ve certainly played a lot of games in this place and there have been a lot of long ones. Today was no exception. Guys really grinded it out. It was really, really hot. Lot of good things offensively stood out for me today.”
Seattle had 13 hits, drew nine walks and had two hit-batters for plenty of baserunners and scoring opportunities.
Yusei Kikuchi won the Mariners’ final game at the venue, which will be replaced by a new facility not far away that will feature a retractable roof and air conditioning. The young lefty, who is known to sweat in a snowstorm, allowed three runs on six hits with no walks and a strikeout but needed only one jersey to make it through five innings to earn the victory and improve to 6-9.
“This was the hottest it’s been all year,” Kikuchi said through interpreter Justin Novak. “I didn’t have my best stuff, but I tried to limit all the things I could control like walks. I didn’t want to get cheap runners on base. It was really big for my teammates getting me all those runs.”
Kikuchi wasn’t particularly sharp or effective, working only one inning without a baserunner — the last of his outing. He got a key double play in the fourth inning.
“He was able to get through it,” Servais said. “Going into the ballgame, I was just looking for five innings out of him today. … It wasn’t his sharpest performance, but he got through it. And sometimes you have to do that when you don’t have your A game.”
The Mariners provided him with ample run support against an array of relievers, made possible by the Sept. 1 roster expansion. The Mariners also took advantage of the expanded roster, getting scoreless innings from Dan Altavilla (sixth), Austin Adams (seventh) and Brandon Brennan (ninth), who were all activated from the injured list before the game, and a scoreless eighth from Sam Tuivailala to secure the victory for Kikuchi.
Seattle scored four runs in the first inning off left-hander Brett Martin, who threw 33 pitches and recorded only two outs. A bases-loaded walk to Daniel Vogelbach, a run-scoring infield single from Dylan Moore and a two-run single from Dee Gordon provided a useful lead.
After Seattle had not homered in the first three games of the series, which seemed like an impossibility given the park’s long-ball friendly environment and the Mariners’ propensity to smack dingers, Tom Murphy ended the drought in the third with a solo homer into the visiting bullpen. It was his 17th of the season. Vogelbach followed with a line drive over the wall in right field for his 29th homer of the season. It was 11th time this season that the Mariners have hit back-to-back homers. It was back-to-back games with at least an RBI for Vogelbach, who had been scuffling at the plate.
“Obviously, things haven’t been going great,” he said. “It’s part of the game. The first couple of months here, nobody really had a scouting report on me and I was the new guy on the block. People made adjustments and I have to make adjustments as well. Not just approach-wise, but swing-wise when things get out of whack.”
It was the Mariner’ third homer of the game that offered a sentimental parting gift from a player to a stadium that has brought him so much joy and so much success.
Kyle Seager, who has tormented Rangers pitchers in Globe Life Park, crushed a three-run homer in the eighth, sending a 420-foot blast into the upper deck of right-center. It was Seager’s 19th homer of the season and it came in his last official at-bat here. He later walked in the ninth inning.
“It wasn’t something I was thinking about going into it,” he said. “That ended up being pretty cool.”
Seager’s first homer in Arlington came Sept. 25, 2011 — his rookie season. He hit a solo homer in the ninth of a 12-5 defeat off Merkin Valdez. He came into that at-bat 2 for 18 in Texas to start his career.
He’d been unusually quiet at the plate for the first three games of this series, which was surprising considering this has been a hitting heaven for much of his nine-year career. He had just three hits in the first three games and struck out in three of his four at-bats Sunday.
Coming into Sunday, he had a .302/.366/.532 slash line with 23 doubles, two triples, 14 homers and 43 RBI in 76 games. He’s been one of the most successful opposing hitters in the stadium’s 26-year history. With his homer, he is tied for second-most extra-base hits with 40 and sixth most RBI at 56. He finished with 23 career doubles, which was tied for third-most by any opposing player.
The Rangers will be moving to the new stadium across the street, which is still under construction. It’s has been creatively named Globe Life Field. It will feature a climate controlled environment and a retractable roof, which is useful considering the sweltering heat in the Texas summers and the propensity for thunderstorms. It also will feature a playing surface that is predominantly synthetic turf made by Shaw Sports Turf. Texas will join the Rays, Blue Jays and Diamondbacks as the only teams that don’t use real grass for their playing surface.
The current stadium won’t be immediately torn down. It will instead be reconfigured for the new XFL team — the Dallas Renegades.
Globe Life Park originally was known as The Ballpark in Arlington when construction first began in 1992, replacing the old Arlington Stadium. It opened April 1, 1994 with an exhibition game between the Rangers and Mets. The first official game was April 11, 1994 between the Rangers and Brewers.
“A lot of good memories here for sure, a lot of tough memories,” Seager said. “But I certainly won’t miss the heat of this place.”