Seattle starts its last road trip of the season with a win to improve to 72-76 on the season, inching closer and closer to .500.
ARLINGTON, Tex. — Few teams in baseball were playing at a higher level than the Texas Rangers coming into Friday. They had won five straight games, including a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros, to take the lead in the American League West.
But the Mariners put an end to that streak in businesslike fashion, jumping to an early three-run lead and hanging on for a 3-1 win at Globe Life Park.
Seattle wasn’t particularly outstanding in any aspect, but got just enough pitching and just enough offense to start the last road trip of the season with a victory. The Mariners have won 11 of their past 16 to improve to 72-76 on the season, inching closer and closer to .500.
The Mariners scored all three of their runs against Texas starter Yovani Gallardo in the second inning. Logan Morrison drew a leadoff walk to start the rally. Brad Miller followed with an opposite-field double just inside the left-field line to put the runners into scoring position.
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Ketel Marte followed with a hard ground ball down the left-field line. For a moment, it looked as if the ball would leak foul, but it had enough spin to stay on the line for a double to score both runs and make it 2-0.
Rangers manager Jeff Bannister was displeased with the call from third-base ump Chris Guccione. A clarification turned into a shouting match and ended with an ejection.
Then Kyle Seager blooped a single into left field, allowing Marte to score.
It was an improvement compared to the last time they faced Gallardo, when he shut them out through 51/3 innings 12 days ago in Seattle. “He’s got good stuff,” McClendon said. “He’s got a cutter that’s off the charts. We knew we were in for a battle.”
James Paxton’s second start since returning from his three-month stint on the disabled list was better than the first. He pitched into the fifth inning, officially going 41/3 innings, giving up one run on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts.
“It was coming out of his hand really good,” McClendon said. “He was a little sharper and got the ball in the zone more.”
“In the second and third and fourth inning, I felt my rhythm was coming back and I was letting the ball go,” Paxton said.
But he still didn’t command the strike zone with consistency and bounced about 15 of his 88 pitches in front of the plate.
Paxton’s run allowed came in the fifth inning. With one out, he allowed back-to-back singles to Delino DeShields and Shin Soo-Choo. He then walked Adrian Beltre to load the bases. After striking out Prince Fielder in his first two at-bats, Paxton walked him to force in a run.
McClendon called on Danny Farquhar, who coaxed an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play from Mike Napoli on three pitches.
“I was trying to strike him out or pop him up with a high fastball, but he somehow got on top of it for a double play,” said Farquhar, who got the win in relief.
The Mariners also got help from instant replay in the eighth. With runners on first and second with no outs, replays showed that Adrian Beltre came off the bag momentarily while sliding into third on a wild pitch. Kyle Seager wisely kept the tag on him the whole time.
Tom Wilhelmsen worked a scoreless ninth for his 12th save.