ARLINGTON, Texas – Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge is still confident that all his hitters will get on track.
For now, there are a lot of swings and misses.
The Mariners at least scored before leaving Texas, but had 11 more strikeouts in an 11-3 loss Sunday that completed a three-game sweep for the Rangers.
“I’m just upset, to say the least, to our approach with two strikes,” Wedge said. “It’s something that’s been addressed, something that has to be better. The strikeouts are ridiculous. We’re much better than that. We kind of crashed as a team offensively.”
Seattle, which is hitting only .218 as a team, struck out 32 times in the three games at Texas that started with two shutout losses. The Mariners have 63 K’s in their last five games.
Nelson Cruz hit his fifth career grand slam, one of four homers by Texas. The Rangers (12-6) overtook Oakland by a half-game for the A.L. West lead by completing their first series sweep since last June. They had lost seven consecutive series finales with a chance for a sweep since winning all three games at San Diego.
The slam by Cruz capped a five-run fifth that chased Aaron Harang (0-2), who had last pitched at Rangers Ballpark 10 seasons ago.
Harang’s results weren’t any better a decade later, allowing eight runs and eight hits in 42/3 innings. He struck out five and walked two.
“I think the last time I pitched here, the same thing happened,” Harang said. “It’s one of those parks, you’ve got a notch up on your belt that the outcome hasn’t been good. Hopefully later in the year, once we come back down here, things will be different.”
In three starts at Texas for Oakland, the last on June 25, 2003, Harang had a 12.34 ERA. That figure went up to 13.22 (allowing 24 runs in 161/3 innings) in what was surprisingly his first loss in that stretch.
Seattle snapped its 19-inning scoreless streak only two batters into Sunday’s game.
Endy Chavez reached on an error leading off, getting to second base when his grounder rolled off second baseman Ian Kinsler and trickled into shallow right-center field. Kyle Seager followed with his majors-leading 10th double that stretched his hitting streak to 10 games and made it 1-0. Chavez had an RBI double in the fifth, and Seager hit a solo homer in the ninth.
Leonys Martin’s first major league homer tied the game 1-all in the third, the first of four consecutive innings that Texas homered. That was the 19th homer of the season for Texas, the 15th solo shot, but the rest Sunday produced multiple runs.
“It looked like the first couple of innings we were having problems just trying to figure Harang out,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “Then Martin got us on the board. After that, pitch count started rising a little bit and he made some mistakes and we capitalized. It was nice to have that breakout.”
Mitch Moreland hit a two-run homer in the fourth, followed by Cruz’s slam that made it 8-2.
“I started guiding pitches, and ended up falling behind in counts and having to throw pitches over the plate, and that’s where I got myself in trouble,” said Harang, who was acquired from Colorado 10 days ago. “Early on, I was pounding the strike zone, getting ahead of hitters. Later on, I started pulling some pitches, missing and ended up falling behind, and throwing too good of pitches over the plate.”
Justin Grimm (1-0) struck out nine and walked one over six innings in his fourth major league start, the second this season. The right-hander allowed two runs, including that unearned run in the first.
Michael Kirkman pitched the final three innings for his first career save.
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