This was one of those game-of-inches nights Friday at Globe
Life Park and two critical calls went the Mariners’ way in a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.
Ketel Marte keyed a three-run second inning with a two-run double on a hopper just
fair past third base — a play that was not reviewable under the rules. Texas manager Jeff Banister disagreed sufficiently to get himself ejected.
And when the Rangers threatened a comeback in the eighth inning against Carson
Smith, the Mariners challenged a “safe” call at third — and the play was overturned.
So it goes.
Let’s reset from the back end: Smith inherited a two-run lead to start the eighth, but
began the inning by walking Adrian Beltre. Prince Fielder then hit a Baltimore chop to first that should have been an out, but Logan Morrison lost the ball in the lights and simply whiffed on the catch when the ball finally came down.
A wild pitch moved Beltre to third — initially. The Mariners challenged, and a replay showed Beltre came off off the base for an instant while Kyle Seager kept the tag applied.
“They’ve told us,” Seager said, “when you have a tag, just keep it on them. I didn’t
know (Beltre) came off, but (catcher Jesus) Sucre put the throw right on the money. It was pretty much as I caught it, I was touching him.”
Smith closed out the inning before Tom Wilhelmsen pitched a one-two-three ninth for his 12th save overall and his 10th in 10 chances since reclaiming the closer’s job in late August.
The victory boosted the Mariners to 72-76, which marks the first time they’ve been
within four games of .500 since a June 2 loss dropped them to 24-28. By winning, the Mariners also closed to within five games of Houston, with 14 games
remaining, for the American League’s final wild-card spot.
The pulse is faint but still there.
Seattle’s James Paxton started and pitched into the fifth inning, but never found a consistent comfort zone. He exited after walking in Texas’ only run. Danny Farquhar (1-4) got the victory.
Even so, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon saw Paxton’s outing, his second start after three-plus months on the disabled list, as a step in the right direction.
“I was pleased for the most part,” McClendon said. “He looked a little sharper. He got the ball in the zone a lot more. He’s still got to be more consistent.”
Paxton gave up one run and six hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out six but walked four and had two wild pitches while throwing 46 of 88 pitches for strikes.
“I was better than last time,” he said. “Obviously, I’d like to go deeper into the game. I threw too many pitches. I got a little fine there at the end, and I was walking some guys.
“I just need to stay in the zone and stay aggressive. That’s what the goal is going to be for next time — stay in the zone, be aggressive and go get guys.”
The Mariners opened the scoring on Marte’s disputed two-out double on a
grounder over third base in the second inning.
Morrison reached on a one-out walk and went to third when Brad Miller squirted a
clearly fair grounder past third base. Texas starter Yovani Gallardo (12-11) struck out Steven Baron before Marte cued his double past third.
Umpire Chris Guccione ruled the ball fair, and replays showed the ball hitting the
chalk, but it was close — and Banister argued the call until Guccione decided he’d heard enough.
Marte didn’t know whether the ball was fair or not. He still doesn’t.
“I just tried to hit the ball and make good contact,” he said. “Start running, and that’s it. I didn’t watch the replay. I’m not (messing) with that.”
Seager followed with a bloop single to left that fell in front of Mike Napoli (yes,
Napoli, a former catcher and first baseman, played left field for a fifth straight game). Marte scored, and it was 3-0.
That was all the Mariners got … and all they needed.
Texas stirred to life in the fifth inning on successive one-out singles by Delino
DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo. The latter was a sinking drive to right that kicked off the glove of a late-breaking Mark Trumbo.
When Paxton forced in a run by walking Beltre and Fielder, the Mariners went to their bullpen for Farquhar, who got Napoli to ground into a double play.
“I was trying to strike out Napoli,” Farquhar said, “or pop him up with a high fastball. He somehow got on top of it. Marte looked amazing by the way. Very athletic.”
That last bit is Farquhar applying the needle in a happy clubhouse. Marte stumbled over the base after taking the throw from second baseman Robinson
Cano and fell to the ground as he made the throw to first.
“Yeah, that was fun,” Marte said. “I don’t know what going on with that.”
It was just one of those nights when things worked out.
SATURDAY: Seattle (LHP Vidal Nuno 1-2, 4.13 ERA) at Texas (LHP Cole Hamels 3-0, 3.43 ERA), 5:05 p.m., Root Sports, 710-AM, 1030-AM