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September 23, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Mariners fall just short in bid to win season series against Rangers

This was about as close as the Mariners could get to winning a season series without actually doing so. The Mariners lost 3-2 to the Texas Rangers today in a game in which both teams struggled to drive home runners in scoring position.
The Rangers went 0-for-10 in that regard, the Mariners 0-for-5.
For the Mariners, the killer inning was the eighth, with runners at second and third and one out. Eric Thames came to the plate, having hit one of two Seattle homers off Ryan Dempster in the seventh to bring the team back from a 3-0 deficit. But facing reliever Mike Adams, Thames struck out.
Luis Jimenez then popped out to shallow center.
“The ball was right down the middle as missed my bat,” Thames said.
The Mariners also had a chance in the ninth after the third single of the day by Michael Saunders with two out. But Franklin Gutierrez struck out against closer Joe Nathan (photo above) and the Mariners finished their season series with the Rangers at 9-10.
“You’ve got to push at least one run across there,” Wedge said of the eighth inning rally that fell short. “You’ve got to do more than what we did.”
But Wedge liked what he saw from his team against the Rangers this series and this season overall.

“We’re just a little bit short right now,” Wedge said. “But still, you take two out of three towards the end of September against a first-place club and arguably one of the best teams in the league, I think that says a lot about our young kids and how far they’ve come.”
We’ll see whether there’s any carryover from this next season. Good play against a good team one year doesn’t always translate into similar results the following season.
But it’s tough to deny the Mariners gave the Rangers problems this year. It began back in May with that 21-8 rout in Arlington that not only gave the Mariners a series win, but also threw the Rangers into a bit of a tailspin atop the division.
Though the Rangers never relinquished their division lead, it still wasn’t a cakewalk for them the rest of the way. They have spent much of October fending off the Oakland Athletics and likely made things a lot easier on themselves for the final 10 days by salvaging a win here.
One of the young players Wedge liked from today’s game was Carter Capps, who retired six of seven batters faced in the seventh and eighth to keep a 3-0 game close so the Mariners scould start coming back. Capps has been a work-in-progress since his July 31 promotion, transforming from a 100-mph thrower into more of a pitcher who now mixes his curveball in with that fastball.
“I just try to hit spots more than trying to blow it by guys,” Capps said. “Because it doesn’t really matter how hard you throw it if you throw it right down the middle and they know it’s coming.”
The Mariners finished the homestand 2-4 and are now 8-12 in a month of September we all knew was going top be pretty tough on them. Like I said prior to the team’s series in Texas that began nine days ago, this is pretty much a 75-win team and we shouldn’t get too caught up in the final won-loss record, whether they end up at 73 wins, or 74 or 76, or 77.
Seattle is 72-81 with nine games to go and they look to be very tough ones indeed given how the playoff races are shaping up. The A’s are trying to hang on to their wild-card lead and the Angels are pushing them.
In other words, the Angels won’t be letting up at all this week in Anaheim and then, if they close the gap, the Mariners run smack dab into an A’s team trying to fend Los Angeles off. And after that, if it’s still close, Seattle gets to finish against the Angels.
So, the possibility for any gimmes looks remote. The schedule is playing out exactly as tough as it looked like it would be. The M’s are full value for their .400 winning percentage thus far and will have to keep fighting tooth and nail the rest of the way to salvage a respectable record this month.
With a few exceptions so far, they have been doing exactly that.



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