Clement hits 2-run homer, Mariners beat Rangers 6-4
SEATTLE (AP)—A two-run game-winning homer in the ninth inning by rookie Jeff Clement gave the Seattle Mariners a reason to celebrate and to wonder why Yuniesky Betancourt chased Clement around the bases.
Clement hit a two-out homer to center, lifting the Mariners over the Texas Rangers 6-4 Friday night.
Adrian Beltre led off the ninth with a single. Clement connected against Mike Wood (3-2) for his second home run. Clement hit a game-tying, pinch-hit home run in the ninth against Cleveland on Wednesday.
Betancourt sprinted out of the dugout to congratulate Clement near second base because he believed Clement had hit a ground-rule double that bounced over the fence.
“That was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Seattle reliever J.J. Putz said. “That was just flat-out funny. He (Betancourt) was on a dead sprint. It was like when Hank Aaron broke that home run record and he was running around.”
Clement, the designated hitter, received a beer shower from his teammates.
“I guess there’s a tradition here, the beer shower,” Clement said. “You sit in the shower and everybody pours beer on you.”
Clement, in only his eighth game, downplayed the role his two big home runs in a week could play as far as his future with the team. Clement played catcher for Triple-A Tacoma.
“I haven’t even thought of that,” Clement said. “I was just trying to do something positive for the team. If I try to do too much, I swing and miss. I was just happy to get that opportunity after going 0-for-3 earlier in the game.”
Seattle manager John McLaren praised the hitting of Clement before the game and moved him to fifth from seventh in the order on Thursday. McLaren can’t wait to see how Clement does in the fall league in Arizona.
“We’ll watch him with great interest,” McLaren said.
Texas catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia watched Clement hit the homer.
“In that situation, we have to throw our best pitch,” Saltalamacchia said. “We threw our best pitch (a fastball away that stayed up a bit) and he hit it.”
Putz (6-1) pitched the ninth for the win. He struck out Travis Metcalf, who had hits in his previous three at-bats, to strand the go-ahead run in scoring position.
Seattle tied it at 4 in the eighth when pinch-hitter Jose Vidro had an RBI single with two outs.
The Rangers took a 4-3 lead in the seventh when Metcalf homered. His shot followed a double by Saltalamacchia off Jeff Weaver.
Weaver gave up four runs and nine hits in eight innings. He struck out five and walked none.
Edinson Volquez, who hopes to earn a spot in the Texas rotation next year, allowed two infield singles in the first five innings. Called up Sept. 1 from Triple-A, he had been erratic in his previous five starts, often struggling to find his rhythm early in the game.
“For five innings, he was outstanding,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “He’s a young kid and he got a little emotional out there. He will go into spring training getting a shot (at the rotation).”
Texas scored twice in the third on Michael Young’s two-run single. Metcalf barely slid under the tag of Johjima.
Texas, coming off a three-game sweep of the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels, hopes to avoid finishing last in the AL West for the first time since 2003. The Rangers are tied with Oakland for last with two games left.
Clement made sure the Rangers remained tied for last.
“It’s a thrill for a young guy like Clement,” Vidro said. “This is his second big home run for us this week and it’s just great to see that.”
But Betancourt’s move left Vidro puzzled.
“He thought it was a double and he was hoping he (Clement) would stop somewhere and then he realized the ball was gone,” Vidro said. “That looked damn funny.”
Ichiro Suzuki hit singles in the third and seventh to give him 200 singles for the season, only the second time since 1900 a player has had 200 singles in a season. Suzuki also accomplished the feat in 2004 when he had a major league-record 225 singles. … Young left the game in the fourth inning with a sore left groin. Washington said Young will decide whether he plays Saturday. … Volquez earned his first major league victory Aug. 12, 2006, against the Mariners when he allowed no runs on four hits in seven innings.