Lynn finds ace form as Rangers roll over M's
Texas pounds out 17 hits one day after routing Seattle with 20-hit attack
SEATTLE -- Rangers pitchers Lance Lynn and Mike Minor seemed to be on a mission this weekend with their team riding a five-game losing streak.
“Mike and I were just talking … we were the reason we started the five-game skid, so we had to stop it,” Lynn said. “That’s just the truth.”
They did indeed bring the losing streak to a halt and give the Rangers a boost of confidence on the road. Lynn followed Minor’s gem from Saturday night with one of his own, holding the Mariners to one run in seven innings in a 14-1 victory on Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Park.
Minor and Lynn allowed a combined two runs in 14 innings this weekend after allowing 12 in 9 1/3 innings in two losses in Oakland on Monday and Tuesday to open the trip. Texas ended up 2-5 on the trip, but it will still go home with a winning overall record at 14-13 and a chance to utilize a rested pitching staff.
“[Minor] and I together have to do well,” Lynn said. “If we start doing what we’re supposed to do, maybe it starts trickling down on everybody, and they do what they’re capable of and we get on a roll. That’s our plan.”
The offense also came alive this weekend with 29 runs and 37 hits in two games. Sunday’s barrage led to 17 hits, including home runs from Elvis Andrus, Hunter Pence, Logan Forsythe and Shin-Soo Choo. The Rangers scored just 17 runs in the first five games of the road trip.
“I don’t think there’s really any difference in our approach,” manager Chris Woodward said. “We’re just getting pitches to hit and not missing. Our plan has been the same. Our guys are prepared. They’re ready. They’re really doing a good job of taking advantage of the pitches that we’re given, and we just keep coming. It’s just a testament to the ballclub and what we pride ourselves [on] offensively. We’re going to keep coming at you.”
Early offensive production helped both Minor and Lynn, Woodward said. Minor had an 8-1 lead going into the bottom of the third inning on Saturday, and Lynn had a 5-0 lead through 2 1/2 innings on Sunday.
“It really helps you as a starting staff,” Woodward said. “When you’re pitching up by four or up by five, it takes a little pressure off of every pitch which allows you to attack more in the strike zone. It kind of puts their hitters on their heels. That’s why we talk so much from an offensive standpoint, especially on the road, is just getting ahead in the game.”
Lynn was erratic in the first two innings, allowing a hit and three walks. But he kept Seattle from scoring and then went to work once he got the big lead. He pounded the zone with his four-seam fastball and his 20 swing-and-misses tied a career high for one start. There were 12 on the four-seam fastball and also nine called strikes with that pitch.
“They put me in a position to kind of get through it, especially after the first two innings,” Lynn said. “[I was] throwing way too many pitches, but they gave me a big lead. And I was able to defend it, navigate my way through seven. It was a good team win.”
Texas could use a good team win on the road. The club is 4-9 away from Arlington after these two victories. The Rangers have a five-game homestand coming up against the Pirates and Blue Jays, and then they head out for a nine-game trip to Pittsburgh, Houston and Kansas City.
“You don’t want to get too invested in one road series,” Pence said. “There is a long way to go. I don’t think we need to look at it as road and home, just keep getting ready for each game. Come in with our approach, get better every day and look to win series and play good baseball.”