Gallardo shines in 6 scoreless, Mariners drop 4th straight
By Doug Miller and T.R. Sullivan
SEATTLE -- The Mariners badly wanted a division win upon their return home to Safeco Field on Friday night after a tough road trip, but the Rangers had other ideas. Texas got a sterling start from its ace, Yovani Gallardo, a few timely hits and some key defensive plays in a 3-1 victory before 36,606.
Prince Fielder got the Rangers going with an RBI double in the first inning, Robinson Chirinos homered to dead center field to lead off the fifth, and that was all Gallardo would need. The veteran right-hander, acquired from Milwaukee in an offseason trade, twirled six innings of shutout ball, allowing six hits and striking out three. The Rangers tacked on an insurance run in the ninth.
The Mariners got a good outing from their new lefty, J.A. Happ, who lasted seven innings and gave up two runs on five hits, but their offense couldn't come up with the big hit. They hit into three double plays and left the bases loaded in the third inning, when Seth Smith grounded into a 4-6-3 twin killing to end that threat. And in the seventh inning, they got runners on first and second with none out but made three consecutive outs. They scored their lone run on a Smith sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth. More >
"We just couldn't get the big hit to get us over the hump," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "There will be better days. I think offensively we're a much better club than we were last year. Right now guys are trying to find the groove. I think it'll come and I think it'll come fast."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Martin provides leadoff spark:Leonys Martin returned to the leadoff spot for the first time in three games. He drew a walk in the first inning and scored on a one-out double by Fielder. The Rangers had a .188 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot going into the game, second lowest in the American League. More >
Mariners see double (plays): Seattle had several chances to get rallies going, but double plays did them in. After Nelson Cruz led off the second inning with a single, Kyle Seager hit into a quick, 6-3 double play. Dustin Ackley led off the third inning with a single, and a Brad Miller walk and Austin Jackson single loaded the bases with one out before Smith's double play finished the inning.
Rosales, Tolleson pick up Gallardo: Gallardo took a five-hit shutout into the seventh but ran into trouble when Cruz singled and Seager walked to start the inning. Manager Jeff Banister then brought in reliever Shawn Tolleson. Logan Morrison was the first batter and he smashed a hard grounder to the right side. First baseman Adam Rosales made a terrific diving stop and threw from his knees to get the force at second. Tolleson then struck out Ackley and Mike Zunino. More >
"He was getting ahead," Banister said of Gallardo. "More than anything he was getting ahead with the first pitch. His fastball he was moving around and getting the secondary stuff in play."
Cruz's streak ends: Cruz had three singles, but for the first time in the last six games, he did not hit a home run, so his long-ball streak ended at five games. Cruz still has six homers in the first 10 games of the season, the most by a reigning Major League home run leader (he had 40 last year) since Barry Bonds had seven in his first 10 games in 2002 after leading the Majors with 73 in 2001.
"I can't say enough about Robinson Chirinos, the way he handled our pitchers, hustling down the line to beat out the double play. His offense is starting to spark up too. Really nice by Robbie tonight.. He is a nice player, a fun player to watch. I'm glad we have him." -- Jeff Banister on Chirinos' performance
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Chirinos' home run in the fifth inning was his second of the year. He is the first Rangers player to hit two home runs this season, coming in the 11th game. Chirinos also was the first Rangers player to hit two home runs last year but didn't get the second one until the 17th game.
With none out in the top of the ninth and Shin-Soo Choo on first base, Chirinos grounded into what was called a 6-4-3 double play, but the Rangers challenged the ruling by first-base umpire Adam Hamari, and the call was overturned after a review that lasted one minute and one second. Chirinos would score the Rangers' third run two batters later on a Rosales RBI single.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Colby Lewis pitches for the Rangers against the Mariners at 8:10 p.m. CT Saturday at Safeco Field. In 18 career starts and four relief appearances, he is 7-6 with a 3.91 ERA against the Mariners. He is 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA in ten career starts at Safeco Field.
Mariners: It'll be King Felix bobblehead night in Seattle as ace Felix Hernandez takes the hill for the Mariners. Hernandez won the home opener over the Angels but got a no-decision in his second start on the road against the A's after giving up three runs on eight hits in five innings. Hernandez was 0-1 with a 2.11 ERA in three starts against the Rangers in 2014.