SEATTLE — Previously struggling Vicente Padilla baffled Seattle with perhaps the best no-decision in Texas history. Seattle’s Erik Bedard matched Padilla with continual escapes from Rangers rallies.
Ultimately, all of that mattered less than a cruel, painful twist to a relatively unknown rookie.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a grand slam that capped a six-run burst with two outs in the 10th inning off emergency fill-in Denny Stark, and the surging Rangers took advantage of a sudden injury to Seattle reliever Shawn Kelley to beat the depleted, first-place Mariners 7-2 on Tuesday.
“I think they played so many extra-inning games with Oakland (last weekend) their bullpen was a little tired,” Texas manager Ron Washington said after his team’s season-high fourth straight win.
The 25-year-old Kelley, whom Texas hitters had never seen, entered to begin the 10th. He threw three pitches to Elvis Andrus and then fell in pain as if he was shot, from a strained muscle on his left side. A trainer immediately rushed to the mound and escorted Kelley to the clubhouse – and likely onto the disabled list.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said Kelley, who has a 1.54 ERA in 10 games less than nine months after being at Double-A, was being considered to finish games until closer Brandon Morrow returns from the disabled list this weekend.
“We felt good – and then all of a sudden he pulls an oblique,” Wakamatsu said of Kelly. “It’s pretty devastating.”
Stark, pitching in the major leagues this week for the first time in five years, was summoned on no notice and retired the first two batters before the Rangers broke loose.
“A tough situation for Stark to come in there,” Wakamatsu said, understating the challenge of Stark’s third outing in three days.
Until this week, the 34-year-old had none in the major leagues since July 2004, following two ligament replacement surgeries in his elbow. As Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik phoned Wakamatsu in the dugout asking about Kelley, Stark got two fly outs before singles by Andruw Jones and Hank Blalock.
Then Byrd, who had lost 100 points on his batting average in two weeks to get down to .317 entering the game, waited on a change-up and singled home pinch-runner David Murphy.
Cruz made it 3-1 with another single before Saltalamacchia hit Stark’s seventh pitch for his second career slam.
“I saw Stark pitching yesterday, so I had a better idea what was coming,” Jones said. “We took advantage of it.”
Padilla allowed one hit and one unearned run in eight innings. Mixing 61 mph floaters with 94 mph fastballs, he did not allow a hit until two outs into the fifth when Wladimir Balentien singled.
Washington had insisted Padilla was not a weak link despite a 7.43 ERA. Then Padilla struck out four and walked one, becoming the first pitcher in Texas history to throw eight innings, allow one hit or fewer and get a no-decision.
“I’m happy because we won the game. … There’s no problem with that,” Padilla said through an interpreter, shrugging his shoulders and smiling.
Darren O’Day (1-0) allowed his first run of the season in the 10th before Frank Francisco finished.
Cruz hit starter Bedard’s first-pitch fastball with one out in the seventh off the facing of the second deck far beyond left field to tie it at 1. His seventh homer run of the season was the 47th for the Rangers, tops by far in the major leagues.
Bedard allowed seven hits and struck out seven in seven innings. The Rangers said he mixed them up by throwing breaking balls earlier in counts and saving fastballs for later.Griffey out again
Ken Griffey Jr. was out of the Mariners’ lineup for the third consecutive day. Yet his surprising, first-place team was still feeling his unmistakable presence.
Actually, they were wearing it.
Seattle’s 39-year-old slugger arrived Tuesday morning before the series finale against the Texas Rangers, still bothered by the flare-up of a colon condition called diverticulitis that was initially diagnosed in late 2006. Griffey said while sitting out Monday that it feels like someone kicked him in the side, but the pain usually clears up within a couple of days.
Wakamatsu thinks Griffey will start the first time since Saturday when the Mariners play at Kansas City tonight.
“They say it’s just something that just passes through his system, that it’s not something that should linger,” Wakamatsu said.
The pain didn’t keep Griffey from passing out his second set of custom-printed white neck ties in as many road-trip getaway days.
Last week he ensured each player had a white tie with a blue likeness of Wakamatsu across the bottom, to comply with the team’s dress code for traveling. This time, Griffey gave out white ties with his own face on them for the team’s trip to Missouri after the game.
The tie depicted Griffey wearing a Mariners pullover and a cheesy grin between two thumbs up. The tie’s inscription: “World’s Greatest Teammate.”
“That’s outstanding!” team crackup Mike Sweeney yelled across the clubhouse as Griffey presented him with his tie.
The scene was one example of how Griffey has improved the Mariners – beyond the field – in his first month back with Seattle since he left in 2000.Notes
Morrow passed his bullpen test Monday and is expected to return from the disabled list this weekend when the team plays at Minnesota. Wakamatsu said Morrow, who went on the 15-day DL retroactive to April 24 with biceps tendinitis in his pitching arm, will throw another bullpen session before he becomes eligible to return Saturday. … Stark got his first decision since July 19, 2004, for Colorado when he lost to San Diego as a starter. He didn’t pitch again in the majors until Sunday.Rangers 7, Mariners 2 (10)
E—Kinsler (2). LOB—Texas 9, Seattle 4. 2B—M.Young (10), Byrd (9), Branyan (6), Beltre (8). HR—N.Cruz (7), off Bedard; Saltalamacchia (3), off Stark. RBIs—Byrd (16), N.Cruz 2 (20), Saltalamacchia 4 (12), Beltre (11). CS—M.Young (1). RLISP—Texas 5 (Blalock, Saltalamacchia, Andrus, Kinsler 2); Seattle 2 (M.Sweeney, Y.Betancourt). GIDP—Jo.Lopez, M.Sweeney, Beltre. DP—Texas 3 (M.Young, Kinsler, C.Davis), (Kinsler, Andrus, C.Davis), (M.Young, Kinsler, C.Davis).
|O’Day W,1-0||1 1/3||2||1||1||0||1||1.04|
IR-s—F.Francisco 1-0. HBP—by Padilla (F.Gutierrez). T—3:12. A—19,810 (47,878).
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