Griffin finds trouble in falling behind hitters

Rangers starter tagged for 8 runs, 3 homers

Griffin finds trouble in falling behind hitters

SEATTLE -- Rangers starter A.J. Griffin had "swing-and-miss" stuff on Wednesday -- that is when he was ahead of hitters.

When he fell behind in the count, it was a different story and Griffin ended up having a rough night in an 8-3 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Griffin allowed eight runs on seven hits, including three home runs, and three walks. But he also struck out seven.

"When I got ahead of hitters, it was a totally different story," Griffin said. "When I got behind guys, it made it tough. I just have to let this one go, go out there and get ready for the next one."

Only once before in Rangers history has a starter pitched four innings or less, allowed eight or more runs and struck out at least seven batters. That was Aaron Sele on June 13, 1998 in an 18-6 loss to the Angels. It has happened 10 times in the Major Leagues in the past 26 years.

This was the second most runs allowed by Griffin in 67 Major League starts. He allowed nine in a start for the Athletics on April 22, 2013 against the Red Sox but two of those were unearned. It's the sixth time he has allowed three home runs in a game.

"This was obviously not the night A.J. was looking for," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The fastball was flat and when he tried to go in, he missed out over the plate. When he was behind in the count, he wasn't able to land the off-speed pitch that he can normally drop in there for a strike."

Griffin's trouble began right away when Seth Smith opened the bottom of the first inning with a line drive to left field. Delino DeShields went for the diving catch and missed, and Smith ended up with a double. Ketel Marte followed with a hard grounder down the first baseline. This time first baseman Ryan Rua tried for the diving stop, only to have it tick off his glove for an RBI single.

Robinson Cano followed with a single and, after Nelson Cruz struck out, Kyle Seager singled to load the bases. That brought up Adam Lind, who jumped on an 88 mph fastball and hit it out to center for a grand slam to give the Mariners a 5-0 lead.

"Maybe I wasn't getting on top of the ball in the first inning," Griffin said. "I made some adjustments but the big thing is I wasn't getting ahead of hitters. I picked a bad time to give up a grand slam. It's hard for a team to come back from that."

Griffin's control slipped in the second as he walked three straight batters with one out before Cruz drove home a run with a sacrifice fly. Lind led off the third with a home run as did Smith in the fourth before Nick Martinez took over in the fifth for the Rangers.

Martinez pitched three scoreless innings and Tanner Scheppers took over in the eighth. Scheppers made his first appearance of the season after being out all year while recovering from left knee surgery and he set the Mariners down in order.

"It was great to see Tanner back on a Major League mound after a long absence from an injury," Banister said. "It was nice to see a good fastball from him. Nick Martinez gave us some clean innings and gave us some opportunities. Our guys continued to battle and swing the bats, but we couldn't mount enough of a charge."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.