Rangers Thwart Mariners’ Suicide Squeeze Attempt, Defeat Felix Hernandez
By Eric Reining
I never looked at Vegas’s line for tonight’s game against the Mariners, because no matter who was pitching for the Rangers, their odds would not be favorable. Not on the road. Not against Seattle’s ace, Felix Hernandez. And Justin Grimm was the opposition? Making his 2013 debut? There’s no way the Rangers win, right?
Well, kind of, but not really. Maybe 7 or 8 times out of 10 — but not tonight.
In semi-dramatic fashion, on Thursday night the Rangers (7-3) improved on their impressive start to the regular season, beating the division-foe Mariners, 4-3.
A.J. Pierzynski hit a solo homer in the 2nd, and Elvis Andrus added a two-out RBI single for the Rangers’ early offense.
Justin Grimm did not look good. At best, his 4-inning, 2-run, 5-hit, 3 walk-performance could be described as “gutty,” or “determined”; the reality is he’s probably just not ready for the Major Leagues at this juncture in his development. Twice tonight he allowed the first two runners to reach base at the start of an inning, but for some reason none of them scored. Baseball. To allow 8 base runners in 4 innings of work with only two of them scoring is impressive, but moving forward, by no means is it something he’ll be able to get away with consistently. Not in the big leagues.
Joe Ortiz (1-0) pitched a scoreless 5th for his 1st career win, because in the top of the next inning — the 6th — David Murphy and Nelson Cruz provided back-to-back run-scoring hits, bumping an even 2-2 tie up to a 4-2 Ranger advantage. It was a lead they ultimately did not relinquish.
Tanner Scheppers struggled for the first time this young season, failing to complete a full inning (0.2), allowing a run and a walk. Robbie Ross eventually gave up a run, but escaped a based-loaded jam in the 7th, and partook in the pivotal play of the game an inning later:
With one out and Endy Chavez on third — in a 4-3 game — the Mariners attempted a suicide squeeze. It was a medium- to medium-hard bunt from Robert Andino back to the pitcher, Robbie Ross, who (surprisingly) made an aggressive play at the grounder, flipping it in time to A.J. Pierzynski — who was perfectly blocking the plate.
I’m not sure if that was a run-on sentence, and I don’t really care.
With only 4 outs remaining, the Mariners never had the same opportunity to score. That was it. According the WPA their odds of winning fell from 41.8% to 18.3% — a 23.5% drop — after their failed bunt. And yes, in case you were wondering, situations like tonight are just one of several reasons why it’s pretty idiotic to bunt.
Jason Bay flew out to Leonys Martin on the warning track to end the game. I think it was Joe Nathan‘s 3rd save of the season, but I’m both (a) too lazy to go and verify that and (b) I don’t care enough about saves so I’m not going to do that.