Although listed as the No. 5 starter, J.A. Happ continues to throw like an ace. The Mariners off-season acquisition from Toronto, obtained in a trade for OF Michael Saunders, worked into the seventh inning for the fourth time in as many starts and beat Texas 2-1 Tuesday night at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX (box score). Seattle (9-11) has its second series win of the year over the Rangers.
Kyle Seager staked the Mariners to a 1-0 lead in the fourth with an RBI ground-ball out that scored Nelson Cruz, who tripled. LF Rickie Weeks swatted a line-drive homer, his second.
Happ (2-1) worked 6.2 innings, threw 97 pitches and lowered his ERA to 2.30 while collecting a season-high nine strikeouts. He allowed one earned run on six hits with one walk. After Tyler Olson, Dominic Leone, Charlie Furbush and Yorvis Medina collaborated for 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, Fernando Rodney delivered a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save in seven chances. “I honestly think he’s pitching better this year than he did last year,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. Rodney led the majors in 2014 with 48 saves.
Cruz had three hits, a double (second inning), triple (fourth) and single (ninth) to hike his average to .329. Cruz also scored a run. Weeks (2-for-3) and Justin Ruggiano (2-for-4) had multi-hit games. Robinson Cano went 0-for-4 and is in an 0-for-13 skid, batting .259. Leadoff hitter Austin Jackson went 0-for-4 and has gone 10 at-bats without a hit. The Mariners went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
“He was great, he did a fantastic job for us. He kept them off balance all night and just had a tremendous outing. I don’t think he had his best-velocity fastball, but certainly he had great command.” — McClendon on Happ.
Nineteen of Seattle’s 20 games, including the past 15, have been decided by three or fewer runs . . . Seattle starters have not allowed more than two earned runs in seven consecutive games and in nine of the past 11 . . . Mike Zunino has played in all 20 games, joining Kansas City’s Salvador Perez as the only American League catchers to do so . . . The Mariners are 3-2 against the Rangers this season and have won nine of the last 13 dating back to last season . . . Felix Hernandez is 4.1 innings shy of the club record for most career innings pitched, 2093 by Jamie Moyer from 1996-06.
The Mariners can reach a season-high three wins in a row Wednesday with a 5:05 p.m. first pitch in the series finale. Hernandez (3-0, 1.61) opposes LHP Wandy Rodriguez (0-0, 1.80). The Mariners begin a four-game series at Houston Thursday.