The Seattle Mariners rode the momentum from Friday's late comeback attempt, putting up four runs in the first inning off Yu Darvish to build an early lead that was never threatened. The Texas Rangers offense could not dig out of the hole against a masterful performance from Felix Hernandez in the Mariners' 7-0 victory. Some thoughts on the game:
What it means: With the Los Angeles Angels losing for the second straight day to the New York Yankees, the Rangers' lead in the American League West remains five games. The series with the Mariners is now tied at a game apiece. The two teams will square off Sunday for the rubber match of the three-game set.
Rough start: Darvish had almost two weeks between Saturday's start and his previous outing, and it appeared he had trouble getting into a rhythm. Darvish started the inning with a walk, single and hit batter to load the bases with no outs. He then surrendered a four-pitch walk. An error by Michael Young at first base scored another run before a one-out single by Kyle Seager made it a 4-0 game. Darvish limited the damage from there with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
All hail the King: The right-handed Hernandez was spectacular in throwing a complete-game shutout. Hernandez had Rangers hitters off balance on his way to a 12-strikeout performance. He gave up just three hits and no walks.
Offensive woes: The Texas offense was nonexistent, managing just three hits and just one runner in scoring position. That came in the seventh when Elvis Andrus found his way to third but failed to score. It is just the second time all season that the Rangers have been shut out.
Haunting walks: It's not a good idea to walk the leadoff man. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Darvish did just that in two innings that saw Seattle score. After the first, Darvish settled down until allowing a leadoff walk in the fourth inning. That run came around to score on a double from Dustin Ackley to center field. Darvish finished the game giving up seven runs off eight hits with four walks and four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
Young stays hot: The Rangers offense wasn't pretty, but Young continues to swing the bat. He managed just one of Texas' three hits but is 7-for-13 in his last three games.
That's going to leave a mark: Darvish took a hard grounder off his leg in the second inning. The play resulted in an out, but Texas manager Ron Washington and the training staff ran out to check on the rookie. Darvish gave them the OK and continued to pitch. When Darvish was relieved by Michael Kirkman in the seventh, Kirkman used his wrist to knock down a line drive with the bases loaded. Kirkman lost his glove on the play but had the presence of mind to pick up the ball and get the force out at home with an athletic play.
Limiting more damage: With Texas trailing 7-0, Kirkman limited further damage by getting two consecutive outs to end the seventh inning. Kirkman came in with the bases loaded and one out before getting the force out at home and a strikeout to end the threat.
Perez sees action: With the Rangers' starting rotation is beginning to heal, Martin Perez got a relief appearance in the eighth inning. He led off the inning with a walk and got into a 2-0 count on the next batter. Yorvit Torrealba had a talk with Perez, who immediately dialed up a double play ball and a groundout to get out of the inning.
Up next: The Rangers and Mariners will battle it out in the final game of this three-game set in Seattle on Sunday. The matchup will feature LHP Matt Harrison (11-4, 3.10) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1, 4.84) at 3:10 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.