It’s never a good sign when a team goes to its bullpen in the third inning. That means the starter has either suffered an injury or been hit hard.
Both teams had to do it on Thursday afternoon and it worked out better for the Texas Rangers than the Seattle Mariners.
Five relievers picked up Rangers starter Tanner Scheppers, who allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings, and the offense rallied from behind once again for what became an 8-6 victory over the Mariners.
“It doesn’t matter how a win happens … what’s important is that we won,” said Joakim Soria, who worked a perfect ninth to close it out.
The Rangers took three of four from the Mariners and are going into this weekend’s series against the Chicago White Sox on their first three-game winning streak of the season. The bullpen is a big reason why.
“The bullpen was outstanding,” manager Ron Washington said. “We needed to piece it together and those guys got the job done for us.”
The Rangers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, scoring three runs in the first and another run in the second. Mitch Moreland had a two-run single in the first inning and Shin-Soo Choo went deep for a solo shot in the second.
Scheppers couldn’t make it stand, though, giving up six runs in the third. Another big inning doomed Scheppers in his young starting career.
But the bullpen and offense bailed him out.
Rangers long reliever Hector Noesi allowed the two runners Scheppers left on to score in the third, but worked a scoreless fourth and got the first out of the fifth.
Lefty Pedro Figueroa came on for the second consecutive day with Neal Cotts down, and got five easy outs to finish off the fifth and get through the sixth.
Figueroa earned his second win in as many days. The Rangers broke a 6-6 tie in the fifth inning on an RBI groundout by Arencibia and cushioned it when Donnie Murphy raced home on a wild pitch.
“Of course, it feels great and I have to be positive when the game is on the line like that,” Figueroa said. “I’m just trying to focus on getting ground balls.”
Jason Frasor pitched around a leadoff walk in the seventh, Alexi Ogando got through the eighth and Soria finished it off in the ninth.
The bullpen has not allowed an earned run in the past five games and has a 0.42 ERA over the last seven games. The 6 2/3 scoreless innings is the most scoreless innings by the bullpen since they threw seven scoreless on July 20, 2013, vs. Baltimore.
“Everybody wants to know who wins and who loses as far as the pitcher, and sometimes the bullpen screws it up,” Frasor said. “So it’s nice to help out and do well and get the win.”
The bullpen’s performance gave the offense a chance to regain the lead.
The Rangers tied the game 6-6 in their half of the third on an RBI double by Moreland and a run-scoring groundout by Arencibia. Leonys Martin dropped down a sacrifice bunt before Arencibia’s at-bat to move a runner to third.
Martin dropped another sacrifice bunt ahead of Arencibia in the two-run fifth.
Moreland finished with his first three-RBI game since May 16 of last season, and Arencibia had his first multi-RBI game for the Rangers.
“We’re definitely creating those scoring opportunities by having some tough at-bats and putting some pressure on the other team,” Moreland said. “When you do that, you’re going to put yourself in a good spot more times than not. We were able to do that against a good Seattle team this series.
“We’ve got to roll that over.”