Rangers 2, Mariners 1; Rangers 4, Mariners 3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Eric Gagne once converted a major league record 84 straight saves. What the 2003 NL Cy Young winner had never done was save two games on the same day—until Tuesday.
The burly Texas closer pitched the ninth inning in both games of a doubleheader, getting the last three outs after a leadoff hit each time, as the Rangers swept the Seattle Mariners. Texas won the nightcap 4-3 after a 2-1 victory in the opener.
Limited to 15 1-3 innings the last two seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers because of three operations (two elbow, one back), Gagne pitched in three games in a 24-hour span. It’s another strong indication that he is indeed healthy.
“You can talk about it, but until you prove it, that’s all that matters,” said Gagne, who has 16 saves in 17 chances this season. “Going back-to-back days and back-to-back games on the same day, it’s just good to prove it.”
Manager Ron Washington had said he had no intention of using Gagne twice Tuesday. In the series opener late Monday night, Gagne pitched in a non-save situation and allowed three runs in the ninth inning as the Rangers held on to win 8-7.
“He came to me,” Washington said.
“Every time you give up runs, you want to get back on the mound and get the negative thoughts out of your mind,” Gagne said.
No. 9 hitter Travis Metcalf was 4-for-4 in the nightcap. His last hit was a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth that scored Gerald Laird, who had a leadoff single before a sacrifice bunt by Ramon Vazquez.
In the opener, John Rheinecker allowed only an unearned run over seven innings in his second start of the season.
Seattle has lost five straight games since getting within one game of the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels—but is still just 2 1/2 games out of the division lead.
When the Dodgers declined Gagne’s $12 million option for 2007 last winter, few teams seriously considered the hard-throwing closer who, from 2002-04, had 84 consecutive saves. But the Rangers offered a $6 million deal that gave Gagne a chance to earn up to $5 million in performance bonuses.
Now other teams seeking bullpen help before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline are showing interest.
Gagne has said he wants to stay in Texas and the Rangers could offer a new contract if they don’t trade him.
In the nightcap, Raul Ibanez went from an apparent strikeout to a two-run double on the next pitch that put the Mariners up 3-1 in the fifth. Even Ibanez appeared to think he had struck out on his swing until home plate umpire Jim Reynolds ruled a foul tip.
The Rangers got even in the bottom of the fifth when Mark Teixeira had a broken-bat RBI single and Michael Young scored on a wild pitch. Young’s RBI double in the third plated Metcalf, who had a leadoff triple.
Both Game 2 starters left tied 3-3 after throwing a lot of pitches. Seattle’s Jarrod Washburn threw 112 (63 strikes) in 5 2-3 innings. Loe, who had a 9.35 ERA his previous two starts since the All-Star break, threw 77 of 117 pitches for strikes.
Rheinecker (1-0), meanwhile, struck out four in the opener and his only walk was to Jose Lopez, the second batter of the game who scored on a groundout after an error.
“It puts me in position to go out and do it again, hopefully,” said Rheinecker, recalled Monday from a long trip with Triple-A Oklahoma.
Although the Rangers won’t need a No. 5 starter again until Aug. 4 because of two days off in the next week, Washington said Rheinecker could pitch out of the bullpen.
The Rangers turned a pair of two-out doubles into runs off Ryan Feierabend (1-4), who was sent back to Triple-A Tacoma after being recalled earlier in the day to make the spot start.
“They didn’t tell me when I would be sent down, but I knew this would only be one start,” said Feierabend, a 21-year-old left-hander. “But having an outing like this before going down was great.”
After coming to spring training as a candidate to be the Rangers’ No. 5 starter, Rheinecker instead began the season on the disabled list because of a back strain.
His only other start for Texas came June 5 at Detroit, when the overly excited left-hander gave up four runs and seven hits in three innings. He had a different approach this time.
“I definitely took care of the energy problem I had in my first outing. I was definitely too amped when I went out there and was trying to throw through the catcher’s chest protector,” he said. “When situations get into crunch time, it’s not throwing hard, it’s easing off. … It started when I woke up. I was consciously thinking about it.”
The opener was the makeup of a game rained out April 24, one of six games in April that Seattle has postponed by weather. The Mariners still have to make up two games from the entire four-game series at Cleveland that was snowed out. … In Game 1, home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom was hit on the hand by a bat that slipped out of Teixeira’s hands on a swing. Later when Lopez struck out swinging, the ball never hit the catcher’s mitt and ricocheted off Cederstrom’s chest protector. Pitcher Joaquin Benoit picked up the ball and threw to first for a rare 1-3 strikeout.
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