ARLINGTON, Texas – The month of September is when baseball dreams can come true – or die an unnatural death.
Five pitches into his fourth start of the season for Seattle Mariners, Ryan Feierabend had allowed a single and a double, and was facing the American League’s RBI leader, Josh Hamilton.
Mr. Feierabend, meet the Texas Rangers.
Hamilton singled home two runs on Feierabend’s sixth pitch of the night Tuesday, and the Rangers kept pecking away, finally taking a 6-4 victory that snapped Seattle’s season-high four-game winning streak.
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“I gave up way more runs than I felt I should have,” Feierabend said. “I’d throw a good pitch and they’d hit it. That’s a very aggressive team.”
Feierabend never gave up a big inning, he just could never quite stop the Rangers from doing what the Rangers do at home. They hit, and this time they hit him. In 5† innings, the 22-year-old left-hander allowed a career-high 11 hits and five runs.
It was enough to beat him.
“I was a two-out pitcher tonight,” Feierabend said. “I couldn’t get that third out without giving up the run. It happened a couple of times, unfortunately.”
The Mariners didn’t seem to have their ‘A’ game working, and after taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning – a double by Jeremy Reed, single by Adrian Beltre, sacrifice fly for Raul Ibañez – they were wildly inconsistent.
Down 2-1 after six pitches, Feierabend got no help in the second inning when Nelson Cruz tripled off the wall in right center field on a ball that looked catchable. It wasn’t a routine play, but Gold Glover Ichiro Suzuki wasn’t aggressive pursuing it, and it became the Rangers third run.
On the other hand, Texas might have piled up more runs had Ibanez not thrown a runner out at second base in the fifth inning or Ichiro not thrown another out at third base in the seventh.
While the Rangers kept adding a run here or there, the Mariners offense couldn’t follow up on their 20-hit attack of Monday night.
Yuniesky Betancourt, under orders to be more selective at the plate – but told he can be aggressive in the strike zone – got a first-pitch strike in the fifth inning and turned it into his sixth home run.
“We don’t want him taking more pitches if he’s taking strikes, and we don’t want him chasing pitches out of the strike zone,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “When you get a pitch to hit, even if it’s the first one, hit it.”
In the eighth inning, Ichiro led off with a double, but was still at second two outs late.
Ibañez scored him with a single, picking up his 97th RBI of the season, then scored on a Lopez double, but the hitting stopped there when Jeff Clement struck out on a neck-high fastball.
“Would I like that swing back? Yeah,” Clement said. “But it shouldn’t have come down to that pitch. I should have hit the first pitch he threw me, but I didn’t. I had a lot of pitches I should have hit tonight and didn’t.”
Riggleman substituted liberally all night, getting three pinch hitters in, subbing catcher Rob Johnson for Jamie Burke late, finding innings for pitchers Jared Wells and rookie Justin Thomas and R.A. Dickey.
With two outs in thre ninth inning, Riggleman sent up infielder Luis Valbuena, who kept the game alive by getting on base on an error.
Ichiro ended it, striking out.
“We didn’t really have that rally that we’d managed to put together over the last four games tonight,” Riggleman said. “We had a couple of chances and just didn’t get it done.”
No one was more disappointed than Feierabend. Coming off a marvelous season in Tacoma, he’s now 0-2 with a 6.53 earned run average. – not the kind of impression he wants to leave of 2008.
“Nothing went really well tonight,” he admitted. “In that first inning, I got to Hamilton and threw him a ground ball pitch, but I left it up just a little too high and he hit it into center field for two runs. That’s kind of how it went.”
Riggleman shrugged at that.
“He got burned by an RBI machine,” the manager said. “He tried to do what a pitcher tries, and Hamilton did what he’d done all year.”
And the Mariners did what they’ve done all year. They lost.
With one game remaining on the trip, they’ve gone 4-1 on the road this past week and still – at 54-84 – sport the American League’s worst record.