Mariners blanked for 11th time
SEATTLE – Eric Wedge was convinced that Sunday had a different feel, even if the result was the 11th time this season his Seattle Mariners were shut out.
Matt Harrison tossed a five-hitter for his 12th victory, Adrian Beltre had three hits and two RBIs, and the Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 4-0 on Sunday afternoon.
It was the first time this season that the Rangers won a road series against an A.L. West opponent.
Harrison’s 12th win kept him even with Tampa Bay’s David Price for the most in the A.L. and continued his streak against the Mariners. Harrison (12-4) has won eight straight starts against Seattle and is 5-0 all-time at Safeco Field. The eight straight wins over one team is the third longest streak in Rangers’ history. Charlie Hough won 13 straight against Cleveland and nine straight against Minnesota.
“Once he got through the lineup a couple of times you saw him work that change-up and start getting guys off balance,” Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “It shows how good his stuff is because he can go to his third pitch and it’s still pretty effective.”
Wedge felt the at-bats his offense put up against Harrison were better than the results. A number of hard hit balls went directly at fielders and Seattle’s first strikeout against Harrison didn’t come until the seventh inning.
Those are minor accomplishments in the bigger picture of the Mariners tying with Oakland for the league-lead in number of shutouts and Seattle scoring two or less runs at home for the 22nd time in 44 games.
It was the fourth complete-game shutout for Harrison and second this season, also tossing a five-hitter against San Francisco last month. And he did it mostly without the strikeout. Harrison fanned three, tied for his season-low.
Seattle got base runners against Harrison, but could never get a two-out hit. Three times in the first five innings the Mariners had runners in scoring position with two outs and failed to get them home. Seattle threatened again in the seventh after a one-out single by Michael Saunders and walk to Chone Figgins. But Harrison got Ryan to ground into a double play – with a nice pick by Michael Young at first base – to end the threat.
Mariners rookie Jesus Montero singled in the first inning to snap an 0-for-23 skid. But that was it for Mariners offensive highlights. They were held to four singles and Ryan’s two-out double in the fifth.
“When you get the opportunity and do everything right and something good doesn’t happen it does make it frustrating because he gets out of an inning,” Ryan said.
Ian Kinsler added his 10th homer of the season on the first pitch of the fifth inning off Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma (1-2), who struggled through five innings. But it was Beltre an inning earlier that gave Harrison cushion to work with as the Rangers took two of three from the Mariners to begin the second half of the season.
Craig Gentry opened the fourth inning with a single and Elvis Andrus doubled to right with one out. Instead of taking their chances, the Mariners intentionally walked Josh Hamilton to load the bases. Beltre followed by bouncing a single through the left side of the infield – the second of his three singles – to score Gentry and Andrus.
“It doesn’t make me mad. It fires me up because I want that challenge,” Beltre said. “I don’t blame other teams for doing it, but I welcome the challenge. And I like it.”
Beltre was robbed of a fourth hit when Chone Figgins jumped and pulled down his line drive in the eighth. Hamilton added an RBI groundout in the first inning, his Major League-leading 76th of the season.
“We’re still due to bust out, but as long as the runs we put on the board is still enough to win the ball game I’m not going to complain and cry about it,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.