Rangers use five pitchers to shut out Mariners
Tepesch leaves in second inning after taking liner off right arm
ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Nick Tepesch said he is fine and should make his next start. He still has a scrape and some swelling above his right wrist, but nothing more after getting hit by Mariners catcher Jesus Montero's line drive.
He also has the distinct honor of throwing the fewest innings ever by a Rangers starter in a shutout. Tepesch had to leave the game after just 1 2/3 innings, but relievers Derek Lowe, Joe Ortiz, Tanner Scheppers and Jason Frasor combined to hold the Mariners scoreless on three hits in a 5-0 victory at the Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday night.
It was the ninth time in club history the Rangers have used at least five pitchers to complete a shutout. The shutout was the Rangers' second in two nights and fourth in 17 games this season.
"I don't think we should be talking about just the last two nights," outfielder David Murphy said. "That's incredible, but our pitchers have been doing it all year."
That is especially true of the bullpen. The 7 1/3 scoreless innings by the relievers -- including four from Lowe at the outset -- lowered the bullpen's ERA to 1.90 on the season. Overall, the Rangers ERA is 2.72.
"You've got to do what you've got to do," Scheppers said. "Luckily, with Tepesch, nothing is too serious. You never like to see a guy taken out like that, but Derek Lowe did a great job and picked us up."
The Rangers managed just two hits in 6 2/3 innings against Mariners starter Brandon Maurer, but both were home runs. That was enough for the Rangers until the eighth inning, when they were able to manufacture three runs to pad their lead.
A.J. Pierzynski gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with one out in the fourth inning with his third home run of the season, this one just clearing the center-field wall beyond the reach of Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.
It appeared Gutierrez might have had a chance to steal the home run by making what would have been a fantastic catch. But a fan reached over the wall and caught it before Gutierrez had any chance of getting to it.
"Guti said he probably would have had it, but there was somebody else out there that got it before him," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "If it's over the fence, that's just whoever comes up with it, comes up with it. There's nothing else we can do about it. But it was potentially a great catch by him. I think he had a chance at it."
Murphy hit his second home run with two outs in the seventh into the Rangers bullpen in right-center.
"The biggest thing about tonight is Nick coming out of the game all right," Lowe said. "Getting hit in that area, you just hope it works out."
Tepesch retired five of the first six hitters he faced before Montero, batting with two outs in the second, hit a line drive up the middle. The ball hit off Tepesch's arm and ricocheted out into right-center field for a single. Tepesch tried to stay in the game and threw several test pitches. But the Rangers decided to pull him.
Tepesch was examined in the clubhouse by Dr. Keith Meister and the initial diagnosis was just a contusion. X-rays were negative, but Tepesch will be re-examined on Sunday to see how much pain and swelling remains in the area.
"It scraped me more than it hit me directly," Tepesch said. "It's a little sore and a little bit of swelling, but it could have been worse."
Lowe, who earned his first win, took over and pitched his four scoreless innings on just 31 pitches, retiring 11 of 12 batters faced. He hit Kendrys Morales with a pitch to start the fourth but then got Mike Morse to ground into a double play.
"He was outstanding, exactly what we needed," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Ortiz and Scheppers weren't quite as efficient as Lowe. They also combined to face 12 hitters and six of them reached base. But they were still able to preserve the shutout. Ortiz got Morse on a grounder with two on and two out to end the sixth and Scheppers struck out Brendan Ryan in the same situation to end the seventh.
Scheppers began the eighth inning by giving up a single to Gutierrez and a walk to Kyle Seager. But he got Morales to ground into a double play and Morse to bounce out to end the inning.
"They proved they had a heartbeat," Washington said. "It's not easy at the Major League level. This was a good challenge and they rose to it. I loved it. I just loved it."
Frasor's ninth inning wasn't quite as hectic and the Rangers were able to celebrate another shutout with the joyful hope that Tepesch will be ready to go on Thursday against the Twins.