Twice in August, the Mariners erased multirun deficits against Cole Hamels, Texas’ marquee trade-deadline acquisition. A third trip to the well Tuesday night came up just short.
The Rangers battered Taijuan Walker for three early home runs in a 9-6 victory at Safeco Field that further dimmed any hopes the Mariners had of mounting a September charge after their recent five-game winning streak.
“It was a bad game,” Walker said. “I had no command. I was getting behind on every hitter. If I do that, I’m going to try to (get back in the count) with my fastball.
“They started sitting on the fastball and put good swings on it.”
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Hamels, in contrast, pretty much sailed through the first six innings before the Mariners made things interesting.
A three-run seventh closed the gap to 7-4 and, after Texas added a run in the eighth, the Mariners got a two-run homer later in the inning by Robinson Cano against reliever Jake Diekman.
That was it, though.
Keone Kela worked through the eighth after replacing Diekman. After the Rangers scored a tainted run in the ninth, Shawn Tolleson closed out the victory for his 31st save.
“We battled back,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “but that’s a big deficit. And their bullpen has been pretty good as of late. We had opportunities. Just a little too much to overcome.”
So, bottom line, the Mariners suffered a second straight loss following an encouraging 7-3 trip through Chicago, Houston and Oakland.
They also fell back to seven games under .500 at 66-73, which puts them eight games behind the Rangers for the American League’s final wild-card spot with 23 games to play.
So it’s getting dark.
Sure, there were positives:
Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and Mark Trumbo reached double figures at 10. Jesus Montero had two hits in his first game back from a quick tuneup stay at Triple-A Tacoma.
Utilityman Shawn O’Malley made a couple of nice catches in center field. Rookie reliever Mayckol Guaipe had perhaps his best outing in retiring all five batters he faced.
Just not enough.
After both sides went down quietly in the first, the Rangers jumped to a 1-0 lead when Mitch Moreland drove a 2-0 fastball into the right-field seats for a one-out homer in the second.
It got a lot worse for Walker (10-8) in the third inning.
Joey Gallo led off with a single through the right side and went to second when Will Venable served a single into center field.
Shin-Soo Choo then worked the count full before golfing a 92-mph fastball from Walker into the right-field seats. Texas led 4-0.
The Mariners got their first hit against Hamels (3-1 with Texas) when Montero led off the third with a single to right. After O’Malley walked, Jesus Sucre sent a liner that caromed off Hamels’ shoulder.
Hamels remained in the game, but the Mariners had the bases loaded with no outs. Hamels struck out Ketel Marte, but the Mariners got a run when Seager beat out a potential double-play grounder to second.
That was it, though. One run. Stefen Romero grounded out.
And the Rangers kept coming.
Walker started the Texas fourth by committing a two-base throwing error on Elvis Andrus’ squibber to the left side. Rougned Odor followed with a no-doubt homer to right.
That made it 6-1 and finished Walker, whose line showed six runs (five earned) in three-plus innings.
“When they come, they come in bunches,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “This is an offense that obviously hasn’t been hitting on all cylinders on this road trip, but (it) broke out tonight with the long ball.”
While Walker is already more than 20 innings past his previous professional high for innings in a season, he dismissed any suggestion that he was fatigued.
“Everything feels really good,” he insisted. “I’m not really thinking about that. It was just a bad game on my part. I should have gone six, give up four and have a chance to win that game. I just couldn’t locate today.”
McClendon said Walker would “make his next start” while adding: “I’ve been concerned about a lot of out pitchers’ innings from the start of the season, but today had nothing to do with innings. It was just a bad outing.”
The Rangers stretched their lead to 7-1 against Jose Ramirez in the sixth inning before the Mariners stirred to life.
Trumbo’s leadoff single ignited the three-run seventh. Logan Morrison and Sucre contributed doubles to the rally, but the Rangers answered when Gallo opened the Texas eighth with a homer against Tony Zych.
WEDNESDAY: Texas (LHP Martin Perez: 2-4, 5.07 ERA) at Seattle (LHP Vidal Nuno: 0-2, 3.72), 7:10 p.m., Root Sports, 710-AM, 1030-AM