Tuesday, April 5, 2016

1-hit wonders: Rangers edge Felix, Mariners

The Rangers scored three runs in the fifth inning and their pitching, led byCole Hamels, made it stand up for a 3-2 Opening Day victory over the Mariners on Monday at Globe Life Park. The Rangers beat Mariners starter Felix Hernandez, who took the loss despite allowing just one bloop single through six. That was the only hit Texas would tally on the afternoon.
It was the first time the Mariners have lost a game in franchise history when they've allowed one or fewer hits and just the second time the Rangers have won a game in which they had just one hit. Hernandez became the first Opening Day starter in the past 100 years to lose while allowing one hit or fewer in six or more innings pitched.
Hamels went seven innings to get his first Opening Day win in three tries. He allowed four hits and three walks while striking out eight. Jake Diekman took over in the eighth and retired the side in order before closer Shawn Tolleson took over in the ninth and pitched a perfect frame.
"It was a great day," Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "Anytime you get just one hit, score three runs off Felix and get a win, it was a great day. It didn't go our way offensively, the whole day we were grinding, but we were able to score enough runs."
Hernandez, given a 2-0 lead, took a no-hitter into the fifth. But the Rangers were able to put together three runs off of three walks, two errors and Prince Fielder's RBI single. Only one run was earned.
"Five walks," Hernandez said of his outing. "That's not good. That's not me. I was rushing to the plate and opening my front side and that's why I was missing a lot of pitches. All game. I don't remember the last time I had five walks."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Fielder called for interference: Fielder was called out for batter's interference in the bottom of the first inning and Shin-Soo Choo lost a stolen base on the play. Choo was at first with one out and broke for second on an 0-1 pitch to Fielder. The pitch was a curve that bounced in the dirt at Fielder's feet. Catcher Chris Iannetta was late with his throw to second as Fielder, off balance after skipping out of the way of the pitch, stumbled across home plate. Home-plate umpire Jim Joyce, going by Rule 6.06(c), ruled that Fielder interfered with the throw, calling the batter out and sending Choo back to first base.
"That was an interesting call," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Obviously a quality umpire behind the plate, a guy with a wealth of experience and knowledge. That's the first time in my career I've seen a hitter have to move to avoid getting hit by a baseball, fall across the plate and get called for obstruction or interference. But it's the rule."
Lefties go long: Hamels gave up just two home runs to left-handers last year, but Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager matched that in just two innings. Cano carried over his red-hot spring with his line shot over the right-field fence on the second pitch he saw from Hamels in the first. Cano hit just one homer in his first 47 games last season, but he launched seven homers this spring and wasted no time getting on board in the opener. Seager followed with his leadoff blast to center in the second as he continued his history of hot hitting in Arlington.More >
"They were just pitches in their wheelhouse," Hamels said. "Those are two quality hitters that are going to hit a lot of home runs this year."
One hit, but a whole lot of trouble: Hernandez's only hit allowed was a bloop single to shallow left against the shift by Fielder in the fifth. But two errors and three walks that frame led to three runs (one earned) as the Rangers took a 3-2 lead. After a leadoff walk, Seager couldn't glove a high hopper by Elvis Andrus. Hernandez then issued one-out walks toDelino DeShields and Choo to force across one run, Fielder dropped his base hit in for another, and shortstop Ketel Marte booted a potential double-play grounder by Adrian Beltre to allow the third run to cross. Hernandez stopped the bleeding by striking out the final two batters, but the damage had been done. More >
"He was the same Felix I've always seen," Cano said. "He was tough, he just had that one inning. We made a couple mistakes. If we wouldn't have made those errors it would have been the end of that inning."
Hamels gets shutdown inning: Hamels did not let an error by Andrus stop him from getting a big shutdown inning in the sixth after the Rangers' three-run rally gave him a 3-2 lead. Hamels, going against the heart of the Mariners' order, retired Marte and Cano on grounders to open the inning. Nelson Cruz also hit a grounder to Andrus, who threw off target to first for an error. Cruz advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Hamels struck out Seager to end the inning.
"That was the big inning, in my opinion," Banister said.
QUOTABLE
"You don't want to know ... I can't say." -- Beltre, on what went through his mind when he hit the grounder at Marte in the fifth. The Rangers got a break when Marte fumbled it for an error.
"He gave up one hit. If Felix is pitching and he gives up one hit, we should win that game." --Seager
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Hernandez lost for the 22nd time in his career to the Rangers, the most by any opposing pitcher in club history. Hernandez had won five straight starts against the Rangers. Hernandez is four ahead of Chuck Finley, who is second with 18 losses.
The loss snapped a streak of nine straight Opening Day wins by the Mariners, which tied for the longest string in modern history. The Boston Beaneaters won 10 straight openers from 1887-96. The last team to win nine in a row was the Reds from 1983-91.
WHAT'S NEXT
Mariners: Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma makes his first start of the season Tuesday in the second game of the series at 5:05 p.m. PT. Iwakuma beat the Rangers both times he faced them last season and is 8-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 14 career meetings.
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches for the Rangers at 7:05 p.m. CT Tuesday against the Mariners in Arlington. Perez was 3-1 with a 4.04 ERA in six home starts last season.

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