King of K's: Felix fans 12 to snap skid, Rangers bats fall quiet
By Doug Miller and T.R. Sullivan
SEATTLE -- The Mariners had been in search of a momentum starter, and the Rangers were seeking to continue the good vibes from the previous night's victory. Saturday's game was set for high drama on a beautiful night at Safeco Field, but when it was over, Felix Hernandez had become the story once again. On his bobblehead night, Seattle's ace gave up only two hits and a run while striking out 12 in seven innings, and the Mariners got enough timely hits to break a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win before 43,017.
Things weren't looking good early for the Mariners, who followed a recent pattern of knocking on the door but not capitalizing on chances early in the game. They took a 1-0 lead on a Seth Smith sacrifice fly in the fourth inning against Rangers starter Colby Lewis, but Texas tied the game in the top of the fifth on an Elvis Andrus fielder's choice RBI.
The Mariners answered the bell again, picking up a run on a Mike Zunino solo homer in the bottom of the fifth and added another on a Brad Miller RBI triple in the sixth. Hernandez and the Seattle bullpen took care of the rest.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rangers execute relay: The Rangers showed their ability to execute the relay with one out in the first. With Austin Jackson on first, Robinson Cano smacked a double to right and the ball got caught between the wall padding and the warning track. Jackson tried to score, but right fielder Carlos Peguero got to the ball quickly and made an accurate throw to Rougned Odor. His strong relay to catcher Robinson Chirinos was well in time for the out as Jackson couldn't slide around the tag.
Zunino unloads: Mariners catcher Zunino had been slumping at the plate, but he connected in a very loud way to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, driving a Lewis pitch into the upper deck in left field. It was Zunino's first home run of the year and gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead that they wouldn't relinquish. More >
"Obviously some things haven't been breaking our way collectively, so they scored a run and tied it up and we answered right back. It was pretty huge," Miller said of Zunino's homer.
Dodging the big inning: Lewis needed 29 pitches to get through a treacherous fourth inning but only gave up one run. The Mariners loaded the bases with one out and Smith flied to right to drive home a run. After Lewis walked Logan Morrison to reload the bases, Lewis struck out Miller on a 1-2 breaking ball to end the inning.
Felix finishes with a flourish: Hernandez put a royal touch on his "King Felix" bobblehead-night gem, striking out the side in the top of the seventh inning. More >
"You could tell he was ready to go and I think he really wanted the ball in that inning," Zunino said of Hernandez. "To be at 98 pitches and go out and do what he did in the seventh inning was huge for us."
It was the second time in the game that Hernandez got all three outs in an inning via the punchout. He also accomplished the feat in the second inning. More >
"You've got to dig in and battle this guy," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "This guy is a premier pitcher. That's what he is."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Zunino is 3-for-10 off of Lewis with six strikeouts. All three hits have been home runs, including a first-pitch leadoff shot in the fifth that gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead. Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder is now 0-for-14 in his career against Hernandez with five strikeouts. More >
Review gets another Mariners runner out: The Mariners had three runners thrown out in the first three innings. In addition to the relay, Kyle Seager was thrown out in the second inning by catcher Robinson Chirinos trying to take second on a ball in the dirt. Chirinos got one more in the third, picking off Miller at second base as Zunino was taking a called third strike. Miller was initially called safe by second base umpire Adrian Johnson but the Rangers appealed. The replay showed Miller was tagged out as he was dislodged sliding back into the base.
Mariners lose HBP review: In the top of the fourth inning with one out, Hernandez threw a pitch and it was ruled that it hit Rangers batter Jake Smolinski on the hand. The Mariners elected to have the play reviewed, thinking the ball hit Smolinski's bat, but the umpiring crew ruled that there wasn't enough evidence that the ball struck the bat prior to striking the batter's hand. Smolinski stayed at first base and ended up scoring the Rangers' first run. Leonys Martin's single moved him to third and, after a steal of second, Andrus brought him home with a grounder to short.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Left-hander Ross Detwiler looks for his first victory for the Rangers when he pitches against the Mariners at 3:10 p.m. CT Sunday at Safeco Field. Detwiler will make his first career start against the Mariners. He is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in his first two starts..
Mariners:James Paxton takes the hill for the Mariners at 1:10 PT and will seek his first victory in 2015. The young southpaw took a no-decision in his last start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, giving up five runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. Paxton is making his third career start against Texas. He's 1-1 with an 0.71 ERA vs. the Rangers.