SEATTLE – A reporter mentioned to Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge on Wednesday afternoon how nice it must be to face a Texas Rangers team that’s missing injured slugger Josh Hamilton.
“I’m OK with that,” Wedge said. “But they’re still rolling guys out there who are pretty good. They’re still hitting the ball out of the ballpark. They’re still up there with some presence.”
Wednesday night, that presence beat the Mariners.
Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis hit solo home runs on fastballs that Mariners 22-year-old rookie Michael Pineda centered over the plate, leading the Rangers to a 5-2 victory at Safeco Field.
“Every time Michael goes out there, he’s going to get a little bit better, be a little bit wiser and be a little bit more experienced,” Wedge said. “They’re a good hitting ballclub. A couple of their left-handers got to balls.”
Pineda was his phenomenal, upper-90 mph self through most of his seven innings on the mound, but the Rangers popped him just enough to beat him.
He struck out nine in seven innings but allowed seven hits.
Three of those hits were in the first inning when the Rangers scored twice on Adrian Beltre’s RBI double and David Murphy’s RBI single.
The Mariners got those runs back against Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson, scoring in the first and third innings on sacrifice flies by catcher Miguel Olivo, and everyone settled in for a supreme pitcher’s battle.
Pineda found his rhythm and not only retired 10 straight Rangers, he had them looking uncomfortable in the batter’s box with a fastball that reached 99 mph and slider and change-up that kept them honest.
Problem was, those “other guys” in the Rangers’ lineup caught up with that fastball when Pineda left it over the plate.
Moreland ripped one into the right-center field seats on the first pitch of the fifth inning for a 3-2 Rangers lead, and Davis delivered the crushing blow with a two-out, home run to nearly the same spot in the seventh. Davis hit a 0-2 fastball that Pineda wanted to throw on the outside corner, if not off the plate.
“Maybe catching a little too much of the plate in those situations,” Wedge said.
“Michael has shown an ability to put hitters away with two strikes. But you have those guys up there who can run into one, and you’ve got to make pitches even when you’re ahead 0-2.”