Colby Lewis missed pitching a four-hitter by an out and the visiting Texas Rangers got a trio of sacrifice flies plus an RBI single from Michael Young in winning its ninth straight, 4-0 over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Lewis followed up Derek Holland’s stellar performance a night earlier when Holland took a perfect game into the sixth inning before settling for a shutout. Lewis wasn’t quite as good, giving up a third-inning single to Brendan Ryan, but was equally effective at keeping Seattle’s hapless offense off the scoreboard.
Only three times did Seattle advance a runner to second base against the Rangers’ righty. Lewis (9-7) lived on the outside half of the plate and induced weak grounders and pop ups all night.
Seattle starter Doug Fister (3-11) retired 15 straight at one point, but again got no help from his offense. Seattle’s gone scoreless in 26 straight innings.
Lewis won his fourth straight decision and has dropped his ERA from 4.97 on June 11 down to 4.06. He allowed Ryan’s single in the third and a leadoff ground-rule double by Franklin Gutierrez in the fifth when centerfielder Endy Chavez was caught shading Gutierrez too much to right-center field. But Gutierrez was left standing at second as Kyle Seager and Carlos Peguero both struck out — Seager on a 10-pitch at-bat — and Ichiro Suzuki grounded out weakly to shortstop.
That was it for Seattle scoring chances until the ninth when Lewis fell one out short of his second shutout of the season. He gave up a one-out single to Dustin Ackley and then a two-out hit to Adam Kennedy. Manager Ron Washington decided not to risk anything and turned to Neftali Feliz, who got Jack Cust on a groundout to finish off the shutout for his 19th save in 27 chances.
Lewis struck out eight and walked only two in 8 2-3 innings. The Rangers pitching staff ran its consecutive scoreless innings streak to 29, not allowing a run since Coco Crisp homered in the seventh inning against the Rangers last Saturday. Texas now has 12 shutouts this season, second-best in baseball and the top mark in the American League.
Texas’ offense wasn’t overly powerful against Fister, but did enough. Ian Kinsler doubled to lead off the game and scored on Josh Hamilton’s sacrifice fly. Endy Chavez drove home Nelson Cruz in the second with a sacrifice fly before Texas did enough in the eighth to finally knock out Fister.
That came after Fister settled into an unhittable groove, retiring 15 straight following Elvis Andrus’ leadoff walk in the third. Ten of the 15 outs came on weak grounders in the infield.
The Rangers finally got to Fister again in the eighth when Chavez led off with a single and raced to third on Kinsler’s base hit. Chavez was cut down at home on an infield grounder by Andrus, and after Hamilton was intentionally walked, Adrian Beltre hit a flyball deep enough for Kinsler to score. Young then followed with a single to score Andrus.
But another Fister start was wasted by the Mariners offense. He’s given up four earned runs or less in each of his 12 starts since May 7, only to see the Mariners bats fail to give Fister a chance to win. He entered Friday night getting just 2.15 runs of support per start, the lowest number in the American League.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge was brutally honest about the Mariners offensive woes and that was before Friday’s effort. Before the game, Wedge noted the amount of positives going on with his club but that “hitting isn’t one of them.”
The trend continued against Lewis. Seattle hasn’t scored since the first inning of last Sunday’s loss to the Angels, its final game before the All-Star break.