Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cruz, Cano homer to help Mariners top Texas

Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano led a long-ball parade as the Mariners ripped four home runs -- three coming in the eighth inning -- en route to a 10-2 runaway win over the Rangers in Tuesday's second game of their season-opening series at Globe Life Park.
The Mariners jumped on former teammate Tom Wilhelmsen for four runs on four straight extra-base hits in his Rangers debut in the eighth inning to break the game open, with Cano homering into the second deck in right on the reliever's first pitch for his second homer in two games.
WIlhelmsen then gave up back-to-back doubles to Cruz and Kyle Seager and a two-run homer to Seth Smith before being ejected for hitting catcher Chris Iannetta in the thigh. Utility infielder Luis Sardinas greeted new reliever Andrew Faulkner with a two-run homer on his first pitch to cap the six-run frame and put new skipper Scott Servais in line for the first win of his managerial career.
"We busted out obviously, and swung the bats really well," Servais said. "Huge home runs by Robbie, Smitty and Sardinas capping it off. It was awesome to see our guys respond that way."
Southpaw Martin Perez allowed just two hits and two runs in six innings for the Rangers, though he also gave up a solo homer to Cruz. Perez walked four and hit a batter in an 88-pitch outing.
"Couldn't quite find the rhythm, it looked like," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Perez. "Always pitching in traffic. He had a tough time finding the range with his breaking ball."
Hisashi Iwakuma went five innings in his season debut for Seattle, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out five. The veteran right-hander turned a 2-2 tie over to his bullpen after 90 pitches.
Tony Barnette made his big league debut coming out of the Rangers' bullpen in the seventh, but took the loss after allowing two runs.
Cruz cranks it up: The Mariners slugger unloaded his first homer of the season leading off the fourth for the Mariners, driving a 2-2 fastball from Perez to left-center on a blast thatStatcast™ projected at 417 feet with an exit velocity of 112 mph. Cruz went 2-for-3 with three runs, a homer, double, walk and hit by pitch. The 35-year-old continues to haunt his former Texas team as he's hit .403 (27-for-67) with seven homers and 13 RBIs in 18 games against the Rangers since signing with Seattle last year.
"I thought [Perez] was in good shape with that Cruz at-bat -- [but] it looked like a fastball got away," Banister said.
Via Venezuela: The bottom three hitters in the Rangers' order -- second basemen Rougned Odor, shortstop Elvis Andrus and catcher Robinson Chirinos -- all hail from the South American nation of Venezuela, and for anybody back home watching on TV or following along on Gameday, the fourth inning was a proud moment for the tropical republic of 31 million. After Mitch Moreland doubled, Odor walked and Andrus drove Moreland home with a single to right. Chirinos then plated Odor with a single to left to tie the game at 2.
Newcomers chip in: New Mariners outfielders Leonys Martin and Norichika Aoki provided back-to-back RBI hits in the seventh off rookie reliever Tony Barnette to give Seattle a 4-2 lead. They were the first hits of the season for the two, with Martin driving a double to right field to score Smith from first base, with Martin taking third when Shin-Soo Choo bobbled the ball in the corner. Martin then scored on Aoki's single to center, his first hit in eight at-bats.
Rangers miss last chance at Iwakuma: The Rangers threatened to break a 2-2 tie in the fifth, when Iwakuma walked Choo to start the frame and then allowed a one-out single toAdrian Beltre. With two men on, Iwakuma settled down and struck out Moreland and got Ian Desmond, Iwakuma's final batter of the game, to ground out to get out of the jam.
"He's a nice guy who was my teammate. But he's on the opposing team now and we needed to take care of business." -- Cruz on the eruption against WIlhelmsen, who was traded for Leonys Martin this offseason.
"I put my team in a bad position, I don't ever want to do that. But I'm not going to let these guys get too comfortable. All those dudes are pretty much brand new, so it's not like I shared a bunch of time with all of them." -- Wilhelmsen on his odd, zero-out, five-run, two-homer, two-double, one-hit-batsman, one-ejection outing against the team he spent his previous five seasons with.
With the no-decision, Iwakuma remains 6-0 with a 2.82 ERA in his last eight starts against Texas. Since 2000, only five pitchers have won more consecutive decisions against the Rangers -- Bartolo Colon (12), Barry Zito (11), Jamie Moyer (7), Garrett Richards (7) and Mark Buehrle (7).
Mariners: Left-hander Wade Miley makes his Mariners debut in Wednesday's 11:05 a.m. PT series finale. The 30-year-old, acquired by trade from the Red Sox, is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in three prior meetings with the Rangers and 0-2, 4.36 at Globe Life Park.
Rangers: Colby Lewis makes his first start of 2016 as the Rangers wrap up the three-game series with Seattle at 1:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Lewis led the Rangers with 17 wins and 204 2/3 innings pitched last season, both career highs for the 36-year-old veteran.

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