It might not matter in the short term that lefty Dillon Overton turned in six strong innings Saturday shortly after the Mariners chose to option lefty Ariel Miranda to Triple-A Tacoma.
The Mariners’ rotation, barring an injury, is set. And manager Scott Servais seemed to make it clear after a 3-1 victory over Texas that Overton is, at least for now, isn’t viewed as a bullpen candidate.
"We want to keep him stretched as a starter," Servais said, "but I think (pitching in relief is) something we could consider at some point down the road. But we like him starting right now."
It’s not hard to see why.
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Overton limited the Rangers to one run and four hits over six innings before Jean Machi, Jonathan Aro and Evan Scribner closed out the victory by each working a one-two-three inning.
"I’m trying to do as much as I can to open their eyes and make them think about it really hard," said Overton, whom the Mariners acquired Jan. 26 from Oakland in a trade for minor-league catcher Jason Goldstein.
"Last year in big-league camp, I threw six innings and got sent down in the first round of cuts. For me to still be here this year, it’s a big deal. I’m trying to make the most of my opportunity."
Overton, 25, has allowed five earned runs this spring in 16 innings while striking out 13 and not issuing a single walk.
"He’s been pretty good the last couple of times out," Servais said. "He’s getting comfortable, I think, in a Mariners uniform."
Texas jumped to a 1-0 lead on Ryan Rua’s two-out homer in the first inning. It stayed that way until the Rangers turned sloppy in the fourth.
Mitch Haniger reached on a throwing error by shortstop Jurickson Profar and went to second on Mike Zunino’s single through the left side.
Taylor Motter settled for a sacrifice bunt when he was ruled out at first on a close play as the runners took second and third. Ben Gamel then sent a high fly to left field that Rua reached, but didn’t catch, near the line.
The result was a two-run double that gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead.
Overton yielded singles to the first two batters in the fifth inning but escaped by inducing two grounders, including one for a double play.
Motter’s leadoff homer in the sixth inning against Eddie Gamboa extended the lead to 3-1, which Machi, Aro and Scribner protected over the final three innings.
PLAY(S) OF THE GAME: The Mariners went back-to-back to start the sixth inning.
Second baseman Rayder Ascanio made a diving stop to his left to take a leadoff single away from Jared Hoying before utilityman Mike Freeman, who started at first base, made a sliding catch near the dugout on Profar’s foul pop.
PLUS: Scribner has allowed one earned run and two hits in 6 1/3 innings over seven outings…the game took just 2 hours, 27 minutes…Zunino gunned down Drew Robinson on an attempted steal in the third inning.
MINUS: The Mariners were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position…Overton lost a ball in the sun and noted: "Now I can’t give so much static to the outfielders about missing balls in the sun. Because that one, I missed in the sun. I know how it feels."
STAT PACK: Lefty James Paxton, battling a head cold, threw 82 pitches over 5 1/3 innings against Hi-A Down East, a Texas affiliate. He gave up three runs and 10 hits while striking out seven and walking one.
QUOTABLE: Texas second baseman Rougned Odor playfully flipped a cup of water at Felix Hernandez as several Mariners left the field after the fifth inning.
Hernandez made one extra stop before reaching the Mariners’ clubhouse — the Rangers’ clubhouse.
"He only got me a little bit," Hernandez said. "And that’s OK. I’ve got his phone."
SHORT HOPS: Catcher Mike Zunino turned 26, and former catcher Dan Wilson, who now serves as a minor-league defensive coordinator, turned 48. The crowd serenaded Zunino with "Happy Birthday" prior to his second at-bat. Zunino responded with a single…MLB Network announced it will carry Monday’s game against San Diego in the the Seattle area.
UP NEXT: The Mariners open the final week of their Cactus League schedule with a 1:05 p.m. trip Sunday to Goodyear to play Cincinnati.
Plans call for lefty Drew Smyly to throw 90 pitches over six or seven innings in his final extended start prior to the regular season. He will make one more tapered start of two-to-three innings before the spring concludes.
Closer Edwin Diaz is scheduled to pitch for the first time since returning from the World Baseball Classic.
The Reds plan to start right-hander Rookie Davis, who spent most of last season at Triple-A Pensacola. His full name is William Theron Davis.
The only live coverage of the game is on mariners.com, although 710 ESPN will have a taped-delayed broadcast at 7 p.m. Root Sports Northwest is not carrying the game.
DAYS LEFT UNTIL OPENING DAY: 8
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners