Eleven hits and leads of 4-0 and 5-2 in Texas are hardly locks for a win, though the Seattle Mariners had both by the second inning against Yu Darvish - and still lost in a blowout, 11-5.
That's either a lot of poor pitching, the relentless Rangers offense or both. Manager Eric Wedge, however, said it may have boiled down to a double play not turned in the first inning. And his shortstop, Brendan Ryan agreed.
The Mariners were ahead, 4-0 and starting pitcher Hector Noesi was in trouble, but got a tailor-made double play grounder hit to second base. Munenori Kawasaki fielded cleanly and flipped to Ryan at the bag for one out, but Ryan's throw sailed wide and pulled first baseman Justin Smoak off the bag.
“I’ve made that play a million times, this time I just pulled the throw,” Ryan said. “It was a bad throw. You hope the next guy pops one up, but it never works out that way.
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“You can’t give away outs against anybody, but especially not against these guys.”
The Rangers turned that misake into two runs.
“We’re up by four and the double play gets us out of the inning with Noesi ahead, 4-0,” Wedge said. “Brendan has to make that play. Not making it shifted the momentum of the game.”
Seattle went ahead 5-2, but by the end of the third inning it was tied after Nelson Cruz hit a three-run home run. In the fourth, Noesi walked No. 8 hitter Mike Napoli - and the ninth hitter in the Rangers l ineup, Mitch Moreland, homered.
Darvish settled down from there, and Mariners rookie relievers Erasmo Ramirez (three innings) and Steve Delabar (2/3) kept it close by allowin only one run between them. That got the game to the eighth inning with Texas ahead, 8-5.
George Sherrill was tagged for a three-run home run by Ian Kinsler, and the lights were out.
Afterward, many of the questions asked of Seattle players were about Darvish. Ichiro's response was the most intriguiging.
“My impression of him was good in general. When he came out of the game in the sixth inning and tipped his cap, you could see he wasn’t pleased with himself,” Ichiro said.
“I thought that showed pride, and that’s what I liked most about him tonight.”
In the end, Darvish survived a rough start, Ichiro and Kyle Seager each had three of Seattle's 11 hits and the Mariners were left feeling they'd let one get away. No one argtued.