Kason Gabbard, more than anyone, certainly hasn’t forgotten.
Just five days after a bench-clearing fracas in Seattle in which Gabbard and Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez were two of the major figures, the pitchers will meet again in Arlington.
Gabbard had thrown 3 2-3 shutout innings and the Rangers led 4-0 on Thursday when he threw a high pitch to Mariners first baseman Richie Sexson, who charged the mound and threw his helmet at the Texas left-hander.
Hernandez - who had already hit Texas’ Ian Kinsler with a pitch in the back after Kinsler had homered - had to be restrained during the incident, but Sexson was the only player ejected. The 6-foot 8-inch Sexson was suspended for five games, and will miss this week’s entire series.
“If you look at the replay, Gabbard was nowhere near Sexson’s head,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I guess he was a little frustrated and things got out of control. Sexson overreacted. If we wanted to hit him, we would have hit him. He caused the melee, not us.”
Gabbard (1-0, 1.85 ERA) ended up leaving the game two batters later with a leg problem, but he’ll return to the mound on Tuesday. Thursday’s start had been his first since coming off the 15-day disabled list, as he’d been suffering from a lower back spasms.
Hernandez (2-3, 3.42), meanwhile, has problems of his own after losing his last three starts and giving up at least four earned runs each time. He lasted only five innings against Texas last week, giving up four runs on six hits while walking three and hitting two batters.
The teams created a different kind of excitement on Monday, but the Mariners’ frustrations continued. Despite a four-run ninth inning by Seattle (15-25) to send the game to extra innings and a season-high in runs for the Mariners, the Rangers (19-21) won 13-12 on a 10th-inning walk-off home run by Ramon Vazquez.
While the Mariners’ offensive struggles have seemingly disappeared after they scored 18 runs in the last two games, the losing hasn’t stopped. Seattle has still dropped 11 of its last 13 games, and has three more losses than any other AL team.
Monday, the problem was the pitching staff. Ace Erik Bedard allowed six runs in two innings, and Seattle pitchers went on to walk 13 Texas batters.
“We don’t like to make excuses, we had bad control,” said Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima, whose three-run home run with two outs in the ninth tied the game.
The Mariners had ended a five-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, and manager John McLaren seemed optimistic after the team held its second team meeting in three days on Monday, but it wasn’t enough to get them their first back-to-back wins since April 20 and 22.
“Let’s be honest, when you’ve won 10 in a row, you can’t wait to get to the ballpark,” McLaren told his team’s official Web site before the game. “When you’re going through a period like we’re going through, it’s not a fun place to show up.”
The Rangers haven’t won 10 straight, but it may feel like it in Arlington after their 10th win in the last 13 games on Monday. Texas won despite trailing 5-0 in the first inning and allowing Seattle six runs in the eighth and ninth innings
“We’re on a roll,” catcher Gerald Laird told his team’s official Web site. “We feel like we’re playing great baseball and are tough to beat.”