ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Kyle Seager never realized just how bad a slump he was in until after hitting a go-ahead homer for the Seattle Mariners.
Seager snapped a career-worst 0-for-21 slide with a two-run drive in the eighth inning of a 3-1 victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on Friday night.
”I didn’t know until the postgame (TV) interview that it was 0-for-21,” he said. ”It’s one of those things I had kind of realized that I hadn’t gotten a hit in a little while.”
Derek Holland pitched two-hit ball with six strikeouts over seven scoreless innings for Texas before Neal Cotts (4-2), whose 0.93 ERA was the lowest among American League relievers, walked Nick Franklin. Seager then lined an 0-2 pitch into the Rangers bullpen in right-center field, his 18th homer of the season but first in 13 games.
”We knew he’s struggling a little bit,” acting manager Robby Thompson said. ”The thing about him, you would never know it, the way he handles it, carries himself whether he’s 10 for 20 or 0 for 21. That’s the sign of a pro right there. He’s a battler, that’s why he’s in there in the third hole.”
Cotts was clearly frustrated leaving a pitch over the middle of the plate against a fellow lefty.
Justin Smoak added a homer in the ninth for Seattle, which won for only the seventh time in 19 games.
Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6) struck out eight and allowed one run in seven innings.
The Rangers had the bases loaded in the eighth when A.J. Pierzynski, whose RBI single in the fourth produced the only Texas run, had an inning-ending popout to third baseman Seager.
After Mariners reliever Oliver Perez walked and hit a batter to start the eighth, the only batters he faced, Elvis Andrus had a sacrifice bunt before Ian Kinsler struck out against Yoervis Medina. Adrian Beltre, already with two hits and hitting .452 over a 16-game span, was intentionally walked before Charlie Furbush came on to retire Pierzynski.
”I didn’t think he hit it too good,” Furbush said. ”I heard the bat break’.”
Danny Farquhar struck out two in a perfect ninth for his sixth save in nine chances, bouncing back from a blown save in his last appearance two nights earlier.
Rangers manager Ron Washington twice went out to argue calls by Angel Hernandez, an umpire he publicly criticized in the past. Both calls were for players coming off second base - one defensively, the other a Texas base runner.
In the Seattle third, Rangers second baseman Kinsler was taking a throw for a force out when he shuffled his feet while trying to get out of the way of an oncoming runner. Hernandez immediately motioned that Kinsler came off the base before making the catch, and replays showed that to be the case.
An inning later, on his RBI single to left-center, Pierzynski was called out at second after sliding in ahead of the tag by Franklin before briefly coming off the base. It didn’t appear on replays that Pierzynski was being tagged when he came off before reaching out with his hand to get back on the base. Hernandez, behind the tangled bodies, called the runner out, bringing Washington out again as Pierzynski was flat on back screaming in disgust.
”He overslid the bag, and you got the benefit of a replay,” Washington said diplomatically.
Two years ago, after Washington and first base coach Gary Pettis got ejected by Hernandez on a disputed balk call, the Rangers manager said, ”Angel is bad. That’s all there is to it.”
Even before his reunions with Hernandez, Washington had gone out to talk with umpire Doug Eddings about an inning-ending play in the first when Andrus tried to score from first on Beltre’s single to right. Andrus dived head-first, but was initially blocked from reaching the plate while catcher Humberto Quintero made a sweeping tag. It was unclear on replays if he actually tagged Andrus, or if the runner ever did touch the plate.
NOTES: Seager has a 12-game hitting streak at Rangers Ballpark. … When Andrus tried to reach on a bunt leading off the sixth, Quintero bounced up to field the ball and then made a strong throw even while one of his cleats came off his feet. … Rangers ace Yu Darvish (12-5), the major league strikeout leader with 207, turned 27 on Friday. He starts the series finale against the Mariners on Sunday. … When Jurickson Profar struck out to end the second, he contended that the ball bounced in the dirt after he fouled it off. Eddings got the ball back from Quintero, who was already going back to the dugout, and confirmed the strikeout. He showed the ball to Profar. Replays, though, showed it might have bounced into the catcher’s mitt.