SEATTLE – Alex Liddi didn’t go down passively when sent in to face the high-90s heat of the opposing closer in the ninth inning.
Liddi wound up strikeout victim No. 13 to end a record-setting Saturday for a Mariners team, beaten 7-6 by the Texas Rangers. The Mariners had already set their franchise record for strikeouts the previous inning and would finish the day at 1,187 for the season with 10 games to play.
But after the game, manager Eric Wedge pointed at Liddi’s pinch-hit at-bat as the way he wants his players to go down on strikes if they have to.
“He went up there and he got his hacks in,” Wedge said. “The guy’s throwing 99, 100 miles an hour out there and a lot of these kids haven’t seen that, especially in this setting and that type of ballgame.”
Wedge later added: “What I don’t want to see is, I don’t like called third strikes. That’s something we continue to improve upon. We’re getting some pitches to hit, fouling some pitches back that look like some pretty good pitches to hit that we need to get on. That’s just squaring up the baseball.”
The Mariners did square some balls up early, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in front of 22,159 at Safeco Field on Fan Appreciation Day before the Rangers countered with a home-run barrage against Anthony Vasquez in the third inning. Elvis Andrus got the long-ball parade going with a blast into the Seattle bullpen in left field, followed two pitches later by Josh Hamilton lining a ball over the right-field wall.
Vasquez got a line-drive out after that before Adrian Beltre drilled the first pitch he saw off the facing of the second deck in left field to tie it 4-4.
“My mindset up there was to really go out there and attack,” said Vasquez, who got a little too predictable with his mid-80s fastballs that inning. “The last thing I wanted to do with a lead was go out there and fall behind hitters.”
But the Rangers, as he quickly found out, can strike a lot more quickly than most clubs.
“You’d never think they can put balls out of the park that easy with one swing of the bat,” he said. “But they did.”
Vasquez walked David Murphy to start the fourth inning and was promptly pulled in favor of Jeff Gray, who gave up a walk and a single to load the bases with one out. Hamilton then singled to drive in a pair and Michael Young followed with a sacrifice fly to give Texas a 7-4 lead.
The only thing that kept Seattle in it was Mike Carp connecting for a two-run homer in the fifth off Colby Lewis.
But the Rangers starter had struck out six of seven hitters before that, a trend that continued the rest of the game.
Trayvon Robinson connected for a double in the sixth – the only hit for Seattle the rest of the game – while making a great catch leaning into the first row of seats in foul territory in left in the seventh to get the M’s out of a jam.
But that was pretty much it.
Rangers closer Neftali Feliz came on in the ninth and struck out Luis Rodriguez before retiring Liddi one out later to end the game.
The Mariners have 83 strikeouts in the past seven games and 269 the past 30 days, leading the majors over both time periods.
• Relief pitcher Dan Cortes will miss the rest of the season after suffering a broken bone in his right (throwing hand) in what the Mariners said was an off-field incident on Thursday. The Mariners didn’t give any more details.
LOB—Texas 10, Seattle 3. 2B—J.Hamilton (29), Napoli 2 (24), Seager (10), T.Robinson (12). HR—Andrus (5), J.Hamilton (23), A.Beltre (26), Carp (10). RBIs—Andrus (59), J.Hamilton 3 (91), Mi.Young (102), A.Beltre (92), Gentry (11), I.Suzuki 2 (43), Seager 2 (9), Carp 2 (38). SF—Mi.Young. RLSIP—Texas 4, Seattle 2. RMU—Gentry, T.Robinson. GIDP—Dav.Murphy. DP—Seattle 1.
IR-S—D.Oliver 1-0, Gray 1-1. IBB—Mi.Young. T—2:55. A—22,159 (47,878).
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