By CHRIS TALBOTT Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman homered and the Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 11-4 Tuesday night, improving to 3-1 this season when using an opener instead of a starting pitcher.
Reliever Jesse Chavez opened the game for Texas, striking out three of the four batters he faced. He turned the ball over to Adrian Sampson (3-3) in the second inning. Sampson worked five innings, allowing three runs and eight hits while striking out six.
The Rangers are 6-3 using the opener approach since last September.
Texas hitters backed up their pitchers with a seven-run fifth inning that included two-run hits by Hunter Pence and Asdrubel Cabrera and a three-run home run by Guzman that landed in the second deck in right field. The burst ended the night for Seattle starter Marco Gonzales (5-5), who gave up eight hits and eight runs (six earned) in four innings. The left-hander has lost five games in six appearances after starting the season 5-0.
The Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak and gave manager Chris Woodward continued positive feedback about the opener pitching approach. He said he may continue it Wednesday in the final game of the three-game set before bringing in scheduled starter Drew Smyly.
Chavez and Sampson are thriving under the opener approach. Chavez has now pitched 12 2/3 scoreless innings with six hits as an opener, with 16 strikeouts and three walks. And Sampson, a former Mariners pitcher, is 3-0 while following an opener. He also beat the Mariners 2-1 last week.
Seattle manager Scott Servais gave Mitch Haniger a day off, operating under the theory that even All-Stars need one occasionally. Haniger is top 10 in the American League in doubles (second), extra-base hits (fourth) and home runs (eighth), but the 2019 All-Star right-fielder has been in a prolonged slump and is batting .229. “Hopefully it helps,” Servais said. “My guess is he’s watching video or in the cage or doing something right now. But sometimes you sit and watch the game for a little bit. It does recharge the batteries.”
Rangers: LHP Drew Smyly (1-3, 6.15 ERA) will likely get the start in the series finale against Seattle, though Woodward said he was still looking at using a reliever as an opener.
Mariners: LHP Wade LeBlanc (2-2, 7.35 ERA) tries to stop an 0-2 skid with a 13.50 ERA in his third start since returning from the injured list.