SEATTLE (AP)—The Texas Rangers just found 385 million and one reasons to be thrilled.
David Murphy(notes) hit a go-ahead, three-run home run, Michael Young(notes) added his first grand slam in three years and the first-place Rangers beat the lowly Seattle Mariners 11-6 on a weird Wednesday night that Texas won’t soon forget.
The offensive breakout of 10-plus runs for the first time in a month was one reason for smiles inside the Rangers’ clubhouse.
The other came about 15 minutes after the game, when it became official that an investment group led by Hall of Fame pitcher and Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan won a contentious and unusual auction for the team.
The courtroom battle back in Fort Worth, Texas, was the dominant topic of conversation among the Rangers all day. When it was over, at nearly 1 a.m. Texas time, a clubhouse shout of “We have an owner!” drowned out another yell of “Aw, sweet!” from across the room.
The players’ choice to be their new owner, along with co-investor Chuck Greenberg, beat back a nearly $600 million offer from outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with a final offer than included $385 million in cash.
Ryan and Greenberg’s employees were just about beating each other in the back with glee in Seattle that their favorites had won a bitter, unique, 15-month fight. Players were checking Twitter feeds for news all day and night.
“Ever since Nolan’s been part of our franchise we’ve gone nowhere but up,” Murphy said, once he finally got official word. “He’s not just a native Texan, a guy who is obviously very, very respected and admired in the state of Texas, but nationally he is one of the best pitchers ever. He’s one of the most respected players ever.
“Of course we want a guy like that as our owner. In the end, we wanted the best group to represent us. Obviously, how could you not want a group with Nolan Ryan in it?”
Get this: The Rangers’ net worth went up about $84 million during the 3-hour and 19-minute game.
“I just know it’s a whole lot of money,” Murphy said. “Obviously, they wanted the franchise pretty bad to invest that much.”
Texas opening-day starter Scott Feldman(notes), demoted into the bullpen last week, took over for wild and ineffective starter C.J. Wilson(notes) in the fourth inning and allowed two hits and one run in two innings. He struck out two in his first relief appearance since April 22, 2009.
Feldman (6-9) had been yanked from the rotation after going 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA in his last six starts. Yet when he was in a tunnel on his way out of the stadium, he had Ryan’s acquisition on his mind.
“It’s a great thing,” Feldman said. “It should be a good thing for all of us.”
As for the relatively ho-hum game, Texas took the lead with five runs in the fifth before Young’s first slam since Sept. 16, 2007. It came off Garrett Olson(notes) in the seventh ensured the Rangers stayed eight games ahead of Oakland in the AL West.
Seattle’s Doug Fister(notes) (3-8), the AL’s ERA leader through late May before shoulder stiffness kept him out all but the final week of June, allowed a season-high seven earned runs in 4 2-3 innings while losing his seventh straight decision.
Fister was 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA over his first 10 starts. In his seven starts since coming off the disabled list, he is 0-5 with an ERA of 6.59.
He held a 5-2 lead entering the fifth, behind a two-run single in the first by Jose Lopez(notes) and two-run home run in the third by Tuesday call-up Adam Moore(notes). But he hit leadoff man Elvis Andrus(notes) with a pitch and allowed a single to Young. Andrus eventually scored on a wild pitch to Vladimir Guerrero(notes).
Seattle center fielder Franklin Gutierrez(notes) leaped above the wall to rob Guerrero of a tying home run. Then embattled Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu had the left-handed Fister intentionally walk right-handed and .325-hitting Nelson Cruz(notes), who had already doubled and then singled in Texas’ second run in the third, to face left-handed Murphy with two on.
In a sequence befitting the Mariners’ miserable season, the .255-hitting Murphy crunched a two-strike pitch almost 10 rows into the bleachers far beyond right-field. Texas led 6-5 on Murphy’s sixth homer of the season.
“You look at the three-run home run and the grand slam—just two pitches you make mistakes on and it costs you against a club like this,” Wakamatsu said.
NOTE: Rangers manager Ron Washington said RHP Dustin Nippert(notes), who is eligible to come off the disabled list after taking a line drive off his head in Detroit two weeks ago, had recurring headaches this week and stayed back from the road trip. Nippert may get evaluated again Thursday, but Washington doesn’t know when he will begin baseball activities. The manager does think Nippert will pitch again this season.