ARLINGTON -- The Rangers’ Thursday afternoon matchup with the Mariners started at a low point, with back-to-back singles from Seattle’s top two hitters and an RBI double from Kyle Seager to drive in a run.
Seattle scored in each of the first three innings and again in the eighth, and it held a five-run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. But Texas scored five runs in the ninth, including a game-tying three-run homer from Jason Martin to send the game to extras.
The Rangers ultimately fell to the Mariners, 9-8, in 11 innings to suffer their first sweep at Globe Life Field since late June. Texas finished 2-4 on its homestand.
The Rangers once again struggled to get much going early, totaling just four hits before the ninth.
A baserunning error by Yonny Hernandez in the 10th would be the difference. Had Hernandez not been picked off at third base after taking too wide of a turn as the automatic runner, a long fly ball by Nate Lowe in the next at-bat would have likely produced the winning run.
“It’s a tough game and you're gonna make mistakes,” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “It won't be the last time he makes a mistake. Unfortunately it's the biggest mistake he's ever made on the big league field. It's not the last. We've all made mistakes. But at that point in that situation, it can't really happen. It probably won't again, but he's got to learn from it.”
After an encouraging series win against the A’s, getting swept by the Mariners at home left a lot to be desired on both sides of the field. Here are three takeaways from the Rangers’ week:
1. Lots of fight from the young squad
The Rangers were down by as many as six runs, yet they continued to storm back regardless of the deficit facing them. Five of Texas’ nine hits came in the ninth inning or later.
“After putting in the work and just trusting the process, for it to come out and show out in that moment, it was great,” Martin said. “Just to build off that we came back in that game was great. I feel like we've been in a lot of these games that we're going down in and we're right there. We’ve just got to keep battling and keep trusting the process.”
Woodward said it was a roller coaster of emotions all game and that it was one of the club’s worst games of the season until the ninth inning. But he added that games like this are part of the growing pains of a young team.
“I feel like in every game, there's positives that you can take out,” Martin said. “Obviously we didn't finish and we didn't end up winning that game, but there's definitely [positive] things like being down and coming back and fighting in the last couple of innings. It just shows that we just keep going, and that's something that we need to do throughout this year.”
2. Howard’s development
When Spencer Howard faced Seattle a week ago, he tossed three scoreless innings and allowed just two hits. On Thursday, the right-hander only got through two frames. He allowed five runs on five hits and one walk as the Mariners teed him up to start the afternoon.
Woodward expected to extend Howard a little more to four innings if things went well. That didn’t happen for the rookie, who arrived as part of the return in the Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy trade with the Phillies.
Woodward said Howard was OK mechanically but vastly inconsistent when facing Seattle this time around. Howard added that his secondary stuff just wasn’t there.
“He's a competitor,” Woodward said. “We just have to improve on it, and you know hopefully he'll be better next time.”
3. García shaking post-All Star Game slump
Rangers rookie Adolis García was slashing .270/.312/.527 going into the All-Star Game, which he attended as a reserve selection. Since then, it’s been a steady decline. His batting average now sits at .245.
Any kind of slump was inevitable, especially after the especially hot streak García displayed in May when he slashed .312/.348/.633 with 11 home runs.
But every now and then, García has reminded everyone that he’s still got it. Over the six-game homestand, the rookie launched two homers, including a 369-foot opposite-field shot in the series finale. He was 2-for-4 with a walk on the day.
Woodward said that García is working through some things as the league figures him out at this level.
“The one thing is with two strikes, he tends to chase quite a bit,” Woodward said. “He’s got to learn to be patient but also be aggressive. If he's disciplined, you see the talent. The ball jumps off his bat. He's got power to all fields. He's just got to stay disciplined in his approach. It's a work in progress, but he's on board. He's trying to make adjustments and he's doing different things. Today was a positive sign.”
García is still in the mix for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, but he’ll have to put on a show for the final month of the season to improve his case for the honor.