Kendrys Morales hit two of the Mariners’ four home runs Friday a 7-5 victory over Texas at Globe Life Park in Arlington, their fifth win in six games. Batting in the fifth spot behind Kyle Seager for the second time in three games, Morales homered twice from the left side, his first homers in two weeks. With Seager on base via walk on each occasion, he had four RBIs.
Seattle (77-63) extended its winning streak to four games and moved a season-high 14 over .500. The Mariners took over the race for the second American League wild card by a half-game over Detroit, which lost at home 8-2 to San Francisco in a game delayed nearly three hours by rain.
Hisashi Iwakuma deliberately worked through a Rangers lineup, featuring five rookies, in the club’s first game without manager Ron Washington, who shocked his team and all of MLB by resigning prior to the game to address a personal matter. The club said the matter was not drug-related, a statement authorized by Washington, who has had a history substance abuse.
Morales spotted Iwakuma (14-6, 2.97 ERA) a 2-0 lead in the second inning off Rangers starter Scott Baker. Baker, 32, was with the Mariners in spring training, but left when it appeared he was a longshot to make the team’s roster.
After a Rougned Odor RBI single in the fourth inning made it a 2-1 game, Seattle went ahead 5-2 with two more homers off Baker (3-4, 5.52 ERA) in the fifth. Mike Zunino rifled a fastball into the Rangers bullpen in right-center for his 20th homer — a club record for catchers. Then, with James Jones on second and one out, Brad Miller deposited his 10th home run into the right-field seats.
The game slowed in the bottom half when Texas loaded the bases on three consecutive singles with no outs against an uncomfortable-looking Iwakuma. After a short conversation on the mound with Robinson Cano, Iwakuma got back-to-back ground balls, one leading to a 4-6-3 double play, to escape the inning with a 5-2 lead.
Texas (53-88) did a good job laying off Iwakuma’s splitter, forcing him to throw strikes with his fastball and slider in mid-90s heat. While the Japanese right-hander didn’t have his most efficient outing, he still earned the win with 5.1 innings of three-run ball. He yielded seven hits and a walk while striking out five.
After Morales’ second homer extended Seattle’s lead to 7-2 in the sixth inning, the Rangers forced Iwakuma from the game and greeted Brandon Maurer with a two-run homer by Adam Rosales.
The final four innings moved along at a snail’s pace as Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon used six relievers to close out their second win in the four-game series with Texas. Fernando Rodney picked up his 42nd save after allowing a run in the ninth.
Endy Chavez left after the fifth inning when his helmet came down over his head while he slid into second base and the knee of Texas shortstop Luis Sardinas. Chavez needed three stitches to seal the cut on his forehead, but did not suffer a concussion. He will be available Saturday. Jones took his place . . . The four homers extended the Mariners’ homer streak to seven consecutive games.