SEATTLE -- Texas steadied the ship Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field and defeated Seattle 3-2 to avoid the series sweep. Starter Ryan Dempster was impressive in 6 2/3 innings of work, and though the offense missed several scoring opportunities -- 0-for-10 with RISP -- the Rangers belted two home runs.
Oakland avoided a sweep with a 5-4 win over the Yankees, so the A’s remain four games behind in the AL West race with an important four-game set against the Rangers starting Monday.
Texas moved to two games ahead of New York for AL home-field advantage. Texas’ magic number is now seven.
Some quick thoughts:
Home cookin’: Playing just 135 miles south of his Gibsons, B.C., hometown, Dempster impressed friends and family with six innings of shutout ball. But manager Ron Washington let the righty continue into the seventh at 103 pitches, and Dempster proceeded to give up two solo home runs in the frame before coming out. The veteran, who allowed six hits and struck out eight, now has seven wins since Aug. 1, the most in the AL during that span.
Preserving the win: Things got testy when Texas reliever Mike Adams loaded the bases with just one out in the eighth. But the righty struck out Eric Thames – who hit a home run in his previous at-bat – and got Luis Jimenez to fly out to center field.
That’s more like it: Two home runs in the fourth inning broke up a 15-inning scoreless streak for the Rangers. After suffering their fifth shutout of the season Saturday night, the Rangers came alive with 10 hits. However ...
There’s room for improvement: Texas squandered multiple opportunities to blow the game open. The Rangers were a terrible 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and finished the series a lowly 1-for-25. Having a healthy Josh Hamilton in the lineup, whenever that happens, may help that cause.
Young again: Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the fifth inning, matching David Ortiz for the second-longest active streak in the American League. Young now has 259 career hits versus the Mariners, second all-time behind Cal Ripken Jr. (261).
Two catchers better than one: Geovany Soto and Mike Napoli (DH) were in the lineup Sunday and both took turns going yard into the Safeco Field bullpen during the fourth inning. Napoli rocked a 2-1 pitch over the left-field wall for a solo shot and Soto followed up two batters later with a two-run jack into the exact same spot.
Crazy for K’s: Dempster (eight), Robbie Ross (one), Mike Adams (one) and Joe Nathan (two) combined for 12 strikeouts Sunday, which set a club record for strikeouts in one season at 1,193. Texas starters have now fanned 806 batters, also a team record.
More records broken: Texas moved to 90-62 and set a club record for the best 153-game mark. The 90 wins also ties for fourth most in franchise history. Last season, the Rangers won a team-record 96 games.
Up next: The Rangers head home after this six-game west coast swing to begin a crucial four-game set against Oakland. Derek Holland (11-6, 4.42 ERA) will take the mound against Oakland righty Dan Straily (2-1, 4.13 ERA) Monday at 7:05 p.m.