The Texas Rangers did not quite have enough to pick up a victory against the Mariners on Saturday night in their 1-0 loss, but then on Sunday Afternoon things were flipped around in their favor. Ryan Dempster was on the mound hoping to recover from his poor outing against the Angels on Tuesday when he failed to make it out of the fourth inning in what turned into a 11-3 loss. Dempster gave up five runs on six hits and three walks in that outing without striking out a single batter.
On Sunday, Dempster was back to the form he has shown over the past month, when he won his previous five straight decisions before his loss to the Angels. Against the Mariners, Dempster went 6 2/3 innings, allowed six hits, two runs, walked one and struck out eight batters. He had worked six scoreless innings before allowing solo home runs to Eric Thames and Brendan Ryan in the seventh inning. Dempster's day was done after the Ryan homer as Robbie Ross came on to face the left-handed hitting Michael Saunders. Ross got Saunders to strikeout and sent the Rangers to the eighth inning with a 3-2 lead.
The Rangers had built that lead in the top of the fourth inning when Mike Napoli connected for his 20th home run of the season. His homer was just a solo shot that put the Rangers on the board, but the lead grew quickly when David Murphy walked and Geovany Soto followed him with a home run of his own.
The game did get a bit intense in the bottom of the eighth inning when Mike Adams allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach on singles and then a weak grounder to the right ride side was able to move them into scoring position. The Mariners had the go ahead run in scoring position and the Rangers decided to walk Justin Smoak to load the bases, however Adams then got Thames to strikeout and then got Luis Jimenez to fly out to end the inning.
The Rangers looked to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Craig Gentry led off the inning with a triple, but he was left stranded when Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Mitch Moreland failed to drive him in. The Rangers were in the middle of another one-run game, but this time they were on top.
Joe Nathan came on for the bottom of the ninth, looking for his 35th save of the year and he did not disappoint. He allowed a single to Saunders, but that was the only batter to reach base in the ninth and the Rangers had their first victory in three days.
The victory dropped the Rangers' magic number to seven games and paves the way for a very interesting four games with the Oakland Athletics starting Monday in Arlington. Clinching against the A's will be very difficult as a four game sweep would be necessary to get the job done and in reality talk of clinching is probably a bit premature as this is one of the most important series of the year and three or four victories from the A's could dramatically change things heading into the final week of the season. The Rangers hope to have Josh Hamilton back once they return to Texas, but that still remains to be seen. With or without Hamilton, the goal is the same. They need to play solid baseball, win a few games and move closer to playing in October.
John Bowman is a lifelong baseball and Texas Rangers fan that loves to ponder the deeper aspects of the game. Some of his first baseball memories involve Arlington Stadium nachos, Charlie Hough's knuckleball, dirt on Pete Incaviglia's uniform and the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel as he fell asleep.