ARLINGTON, Texas — Violent thunderstorms in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex forced charter flights carrying the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers to divert Sunday night to other cities.
The Mariners’ flight was diverted to San Antonio, where it remained for two hours, before eventually making a bumpy 40-minute flight to DFW Airport. The traveling party reached its hotel around 5 a.m.
First baseman Logan Morrison chose to be philosophical about the situation.
“I was just laughing at everyone else who was getting sweaty,” he said. “The way I looked at it, if I had control of the situation, we’d definitely crash. Right? So I’m glad I don’t have control of the situation.
“And there’s nothing I can do about it. Might as well just relax.”
The flight back to DFW also was harrowing.
“It felt like we landed on one wheel,” utilityman Willie Bloomquist said, “and the wings were (see-sawing).”
The Rangers’ charter flight, following a weekend series in Anaheim, was diverted to Austin. Heavy rain remains in the Arlington-area forecast through Tuesday morning.
This is no surprise, is it? The Mariners, entering Monday, ranked last among all American League clubs with a .203 batting average with runners in scoring position.
“It happens,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We’ve all seen it. You pitch, and you don’t hit. You hit, you don’t pitch. You pitch and hit, then you don’t play defense.
“Every team goes through that funk, and we’ve gone through ours. This is a good baseball team. We’ll be just fine.”
The Mariners’ inability to produce in the clutch proved particularly costly Sunday when they were 0-for-12 with RISP in a 4-2 loss to Minnesota in 11 innings at Safeco Field.
Overall, the Mariners were 1-for-24 with RISP in the three-game series against the Twins.
As a point of comparison: The Mariners batted .262 last season with RISP, which ranked fifth among the 15 AL clubs.
Prior to Monday, third baseman Kyle Seager had appeared in 144 consecutive games — an iron man streak that ranked fourth in the majors. But Seager ranked just third among AL third basemen.
Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria entered the week with a 261-game streak, and Texas’ Adrian Beltre had a 158-game run. Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman had the second-longest streak at 186 games
From the top
Two firsts for Justin Ruggiano: He made his first start of the season in center field and served for the first time as the Mariners’ leadoff hitter.
Austin Jackson had started in center for all but one of the previous 18 games. Dustin Ackley started in center on April 13 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Ruggiano is the club’s fifth different leadoff hitter. Jackson has done it 11 times. Others: Rickie Weeks (four), Ackley (two) and Seth Smith (one).
“Jack needs a day (off),” McClendon said. “Quite honestly, I think Morrison needs a day. I don’t think it will hurt to give Ackley a blow as well. There’s a combination of things going on here. “
The result was Morrison and Ackley, both left-handed hitters, weren’t in the starting lineup even though Texas started right-hander Yovani Gallardo. Bloomquist started at first, and Rickie Weeks played left.
“Obviously, we’ll give these guys a mental break with the rough start,” McClendon explained. “And it gives our right-handers (Ruggiano, Weeks and Bloomquist) three days in a row so we can get them going as well.
“It’s not fair to ask them to come off the bench and pinch-hit and get big hits when they haven’t played much. This sharpens them up as well.”
Texas plans to start left-handers Ross Detwiler and Wandy Rodriguez in the final two games of the series.
A switch in the booth
The Mariners are also pulling a switch in the broadcast booth for the first two legs of the current three-city trip.
Aaron Goldsmith will switch from radio to join analyst Mike Blowers on Root telecasts for the games at Texas and Houston. Dave Sims will team with Rick Rizzs on 710 ESPN and the rest of the Mariners Radio Network.
Goldsmith and Sims will return next week for their regular duties when the Mariners conclude their 10-game trip with three games against the Angels in Anaheim.
It was 14 years ago Tuesday — April 28, 2001 — that the Mariners became the first team in major-league history to win 20 games in April by improving to 20-4 with an 8-5 victory at Chicago.
Kazuhiro Sasaki also set a major-league record when he recorded his 13th save in April by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
Reliever Carson Smith needs one more scoreless inning to set a franchise record for the start of a career. Smith’s streak is at 17 innings; the record of 172/3 innings was set by Mark Lowe in 2006. … Through Sunday, the Mariners had scored 33 of their 67 runs via home runs. That’s 49.2 percent. … All but one of the Mariners first 18 games have been decided by three runs or fewer. … Robinson Cano leads the American League with eight doubles.
The Mariners and Rangers continue their three-game series at 5:05 p.m. Pacific time
Tuesday when left-hander J.A. Happ (1-1 and 2.61) opposes Texas lefty Ross Detwiler (0-2, 10.95).
The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710 ESPN.