Rangers break through in seventh, beat Mariners 2-0
By TODD MILLES
SEATTLE (AP) – Interim manager Don Wakamatsu is getting a long September look at some of the future pitching pieces of the Texas Rangers.
Rookie right-hander Ariel Jurado is stating his case to be included in the Rangers’ 2019 rotation. And hard-throwing Jose Leclerc just keeps putting up zeroes at the back end of the bullpen.
Jurado gave up two hits in six innings, first baseman Ronald Guzman broke a tie with an RBI single in the seventh and the Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
Guzman hammered reliever Zach Duke’s sinking fastball into the right-center gap, scoring Ryan Rua, who reached base on a one-out double.
Guzman scored after right-hander Shawn Armstrong plunked Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the helmet with the bases loaded later in the inning.
Jurado (5-5) beat the Mariners for the second time in six days. This time, he induced nine ground-ball outs and struck out three.
“That sinker, and his ability to get guys to swing early in the count, is critical,” Wakamatsu said. “I thought he pitched a heck of a ballgame.”
The only hits Jurado gave up Thursday were Daniel Vogelbach’s opposite-field single to left field in the second inning, and Ben Gamel’s single to right field in the sixth. At one point, he retired 10 batters in a row.
“We didn’t do much at all,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais, whose club was shut out for the seventh time this season. “We hit a lot of balls on the ground tonight. We really just didn’t get into a lot of at-bats, and didn’t square him up.”
Leclerc extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings. He gave up a leadoff single to Mitch Haniger in the ninth inning, but retired Jean Segura, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz in order to nab his 12th save.
Leclerc has not been scored on in his past 21 appearances, dating to July 28. His 21-inning scoreless streak is the second-longest in the majors behind Minnesota’s Taylor Rogers.
“For me, this has been unbelievable,” said Leclerc, who took over the ninth-inning role after Keone Kela was traded to Pittsburgh at the end of July. “I just try to work hard to command the fastball. That was a big problem last year.”
Duke (5-5) gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning after Seattle starter Marco Gonzales held the Rangers scoreless for five innings, giving up two hits and striking out six.
Texas has won five of its past six games against the Mariners.
HANIGER JOINS AL ELITE
In his second full season with the Mariners, Mitch Haniger ranks eighth among AL position players with a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 6.0.
It is the highest of any Seattle outfielder since 2009 when Franklin Gutierrez finished with a 6.6. The other two Seattle outfielders with a 6.0 WAR or better were Ken Griffey Jr. (six times) and Ichiro Suzuki (two).
“I’m not surprised really by anything he’s done because the work ethic, the discipline and structure he has,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s as good as anyone.”
LONG WAIT OVER
Right-hander Adrian Sampson figured his first Safeco Field start would be with the hometown Mariners, the team that traded for him in 2015.
But after a season-ending elbow injury on the road with the Mariners in 2016, he was released. And now with Texas, he has worked his way back to the big leagues, first as a reliever and now a late-season starter. His final appearance is Saturday.
“It is a good story,” said Sampson, who is from nearby Redmond, Washington. “I have come a long ways, and to have this be the last start after the ups and downs earlier this year … to finish here is big for me.”
Mariners: Servais confirmed LHP James Paxton will make his final start Saturday, but declined to name a starter for the season finale Sunday.
Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre (hip) was held out Thursday, but interim manager Don Wakamatsu expects the four-time All Star to serve as the designated hitter for the next two games before deciding if he plays in the field in the season finale Sunday. “We will honor whatever he wants,” Wakamatsu said.
Mariners: OF Denard Span (leg) and INF/OF Dee Gordon (toe) were held out of the starting lineup Thursday, but Servais thinks they will be available for the final three games. Span did fly out to center field as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-6, 6.13 ERA) wraps up his worst season as a professional. He seeks his eighth career win against the Mariners, which would tie Oakland for his most against any opponent.
Mariners: LHP Wade LeBlanc (8-5, 3.55 ERA) has one final chance to win a career-best ninth game in a season. He won eight games in 2010 with San Diego. It will also be his 27th start for Seattle, which will be a career high. LeBlanc took the loss Sunday against the Rangers.