Mariners ride 1st-inning outburst to rout Texas

Kikuchi takes advantage of early run support to earn his sixth win

September 1st, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The first inning hasn’t been kind to Seattle's offense in 2019.

That changed Sunday as the Mariners closed out their time at Globe Life Park with an 11-3 victory over Texas in the series finale.

Seattle, which won for the 100th time in its last game at the park, came into Sunday’s contest having scored just 59 runs in the first, its worst offensive inning on the season. The numbers lately haven't helped, as Seattle had scored just one first-inning run since a two-run first on Aug. 24.

Those stats got a boost Sunday as the Mariners jumped on Rangers opener Brett Martin (1-3) for four runs in support of (6-9). That proved to be a huge spark for Seattle, with the Mariners going on to pound out 13 hits while also drawing nine walks. The 11 runs were the most by the Mariners since an 11-6 victory over Detroit Aug. 13.

The big first marked just the sixth time this year Seattle had scored at least four runs in the first, and it was one shy of its season best.

“Scoring runs early certainly helped Yusei out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “It relaxed him a little bit, and he got into his game. We have not scored a ton of runs of late, so it was good to see. We had 13 hits and nine walks. We had lots of traffic out there and that’s what it takes to win on the road.”

The traffic started early against Martin. Mallex Smith got hit by a pitch to open the game and Tim Lopes followed with a single. Omar Narvaez walked to load the bases before Tom Murphy struck out. But instead of letting Martin escape the first, the Mariners followed with three straight run scoring plays with two outs.

got his big day started with an RBI walk, and Dylan Moore beat out an infield single to score Lopes for the game’s second run. lined a two-run single to center to put Seattle up 4-0 and end the day for Martin, but not the Seattle offense.

The first inning set the stage for a game in which Seattle scored in five innings against seven Texas pitchers.

“Any time you can come out right away and put a number up that gives your pitcher a little comfort to go out, and maybe not feel so much pressure to put up a zero right away, just help him attack, that’s what the game is,” said Vogelbach, who followed his first-inning bases-loaded walk by hitting his 29th homer in the third inning and scoring three times. “We help the pitcher and the pitcher helps us. That’s what a team does. It was super hot out there. Give Yusei credit. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled out there through five and gave us a chance to win.”

The offensive production in the first wasn’t lost on Kikuchi, who had won just one of his last 10 starts. The lefty said the heat Sunday -- a first-pitch temperature of 92 degrees -- was the hottest of all his starts this season.

He wasn’t sharp early, either. He gave up back-to-back singles to open the first and then loaded the bases with one out after hitting Nick Solak. But after giving up an RBI grounder to Rougned Odor, he got out of the inning with a fly-ball out.

The Rangers got two more runs off him in the third, but they were never able to make up for the early hole.

“That was really big in the first inning, with my teammates getting me all those runs,” said Kikuchi, whose 28th start matches the seventh most by a Seattle rookie. “Even though I put some runners on in the first inning, I was able to say, ‘One run came across.’ I limited the damage and it really helped me out mentally.”