ARLINGTON, Texas — It was the type of game the Seattle Mariners have seemed to lose often in the past few years.
They took one-run leads three different times and each time gave the lead back almost immediately. They couldn’t quite seem to pull away or put away the Texas Rangers. It was story-line ripe for late inning heart break.
Only on this day, there wasn’t any drama followed by disappointment. Kyle Seager continued to come up with big hits at Rangers Ballpark, driving in the go-ahead run and Danny Farquhar made the bottom of the ninth uneventful with a 1-2-3 inning as the Mariners picked up a 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers. The victory clinched a road series win — Seattle’s second straight in Arlington.
The win helped erase much of the frustration of Saturday night’s ugly 15-3 loss.
“These guys bounced back, forgot about it and had a good ballgame today,” acting manager Robby Thompson.
As he did in Friday’s win, Seager delivered the decisive hit.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the top of the ninth, Endy Chavez led off with a single to right field off of Rangers’ closer Joe Nathan. Humberto Quintero’s sacrifice bunt moved Chavez to second. Nathan got Brad Miller to foul out, but walked Nick Franklin to give Seager a chance to be the hero.
After falling behind 0-2, Seager wouldn’t give in. He fouled off a couple tough pitches and refused to bite on an elevated fastball. With a 2-2 count, he yanked a very low slider from Nathan into right field for a double, easily scoring Chavez and putting the Mariners (57-66) ahead for good.
“Not a knock on anyone else, but when the game is on the line, it’s Kyle Seager,” Thompson said. “I don’t care whether he’s coming out of a slump or not. He’s a battler up there and went down and got that ball. He knows how to battle with two strikes.”
Despite his success as a two-strike hitter, Seager would prefer not to get behind early in the count in that situation. But he knew what to do.
“Getting down 0-2 against a guy like him, you really just have to calm down,” he said. “You can’t let his good stuff get you overexcited. That’s what he feasts on. You just have to stay calm, stay with your approach and look for a pitch you can hit.”
Seager’s ability to find success with runners in scoring position is something that has been learned over time.
“You have to treat it like any other time,” Seager said. “When you really get your emotions into it, you can kind of psych yourself out too much. I’ve had a lot of people tell me along the way.”
Seager extended his hitting streak at Rangers Ballpark to 15 games. He is hitting .409 (27-for-66) with four homers and 13 RBI in 17 games against Texas this season.
Although he didn’t get credited with the win, Erasmo Ramirez had perhaps his best outing of the season. The Mariners starter pitched seven innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
“He was outstanding today,” Thompson said. “He was throwing more strikes, he was down in the zone. It was a big outing for him.”
Ramirez’s shiny 4-0 record was a perfect example of the argument to the merit of a pitcher’s win-loss record. He had yet to really look sharp in any of his previous five starts and was the beneficiary of major run support. Sunday was the best he pitched all season.
“I’m super happy,” Ramirez said. “I was just focused about being aggressive, throwing strikes and not thinking too much about pitching in Texas against one of the best teams in baseball. Just do your work and make the work hard for them.”
After being given a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth, Ramirez gave it back, giving up a lead-off double to A.J Pierzynski, who later scored on sacrifice fly.
Seattle pushed it to 2-1 on Michael Saunders’ RBI single to right in the top of the sixth off Rangers’ starter Yu Darvish, but again Texas answered right back in the bottom half of the inning. Seager bobbled a ground ball off the bat of lead-off hitter Craig Gentry, allowing him to reach. Gentry later scored on Adrian Beltre’s soft single to right field.
But that was all the damage Ramirez would allow in his outing.
The Mariners retook the lead in the eighth inning. Seager drew a lead-off walk off Darvish and Kendrys Morales followed with a single. The Rangers’ ace struck out Justin Smoak to get the first out of the inning. Texas manager Ron Washington called on lefty specialist Robby Ross to get out of the jam. He got Saunders to fly out to deep center for the second out. But Dustin Ackley continued his hot hitting of late, ripping a first-pitch slider into center to score Seager and give the Mariners a 3-2 lead.
“I’ve faced him before and I kind of knew what to expect,” Ackley said. “He has that little cutter/slider thing. I was just looking for something over the plate early. I knew he was going to try to get ahead.”
The Mariners bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Yoervis Medina (4-3) issued a one-out walk to the speedy Gentry, who scored moments later a double to the left-center gap from Elvis Andrus.
Medina was able to get out of the inning without further damage. He got a little help from Andrus, who misread a ball in the dirt and was easily thrown out at third by Quintero has he was trying to advance.