Not many people have enjoyed the same level of good fortune over the past nine days as left-hander Aaron Poreda.
Things starting coming up roses for the Texas Rangers’ reliever April 18, when he was brought back to the major leagues after a five-year absence.
The Rangers’ next stop was to Oakland early last week, just in time for Poreda to return to his native Bay Area so that he could join his wife for the ultrasound that revealed that they would be having a baby boy later this year.
Then Saturday happened. Poreda worked two scoreless innings in relief of Colby Lewis, and left Safeco Field with his first victory since 2009 as the Rangers pulled away for a 6-3 victory over Seattle.
The Rangers, who trailed 3-0, saw five players drive in runs, and they scored four times without the benefit of an RBI hit. Two of the runs came on sacrifice flies, the second of which gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning and put Poreda in position for the win.
“It’s amazing just to be back,” said Poreda, a former first-round pick from the University of San Francisco whose career was derailed by Tommy John surgery in 2012. “It’s amazing to be put in the opportunity to get a win.
“This is definitely a start. I have a lot higher expectations and goals than just one win. So, this is the start of a great season.”
The game’s biggest out came in Poreda’s second inning, after he admittedly was too slow covering first base on a possible double play and saw Elvis Andrus’ relay throw go into the camera well for an error that put Robinson Cano at second base in a 3-3 game.
After Corey Hart was walked intentionally, Poreda threw two quick strikes to Rangers nemesis Kyle Seager but found himself in a full count. Poreda went to his slider, and Seager swung through it to end the inning.
“I knew he was going to be sitting fastball,” said Poreda, who won for the second time in his career. “I just trusted the slider, went with it, and it worked out for me.”
The Rangers quickly took advantage of the nice work by Poreda. Prince Fielder opened the eighth by getting hit by a Charlie Furbush pitch, and Adrian Beltre followed with a single.
After Alex Rios bounced into a fielder’s choice, moving Fielder to third, Mitch Moreland delivered a sacrifice fly for a 4-3 lead.
The Rangers scored two insurance runs in the ninth, an inning Leonys Martin started with a single off lefty Joe Beimel. No. 9 hitter Robinson Chirinos bunted Martin to second, and a Michael Choice grounder moved Martin to third.
The speedy Martin then scored on a wild pitch that didn’t go more than 12 feet from home plate, making it 5-3. Andrus added a two-out double, and Fielder drove him home with a single to center.
“It’s been up and down the lineup,” manager Ron Washington said. “To be consistent, you need it to come up and down the lineup.”
Lewis allowed three runs in five innings, and quickly found himself behind. He surrendered homers to start the first two innings, to Michael Saunders and Seager, to put the Rangers in a 2-0 hole, and the first Mariners batters reached to open the fourth.
But Lewis allowed only one run on a sacrifice fly by Mike Zunino, another key sequence in the game.
“I look at it like a big situation,” Lewis said. “If you minimize it to one run, I feel like you’ve done your job.”
Down 3-0, the first five Rangers reached against Felix Hernandez in the fifth. Moreland, Donnie Murphy and Martin opened with singles to fill the bases, and Chirinos walked for the first Rangers run. Choice followed with a single to left for another.
Andrus was next, lifting a sacrifice fly to right field to pull the Rangers into a 3-3 tie.
Lewis then stranded Cano at second in the fifth by getting Seager to fly out. He was allowed to face Seager after Washington went to the mound but chose to leave the right-hander in against the lefty-hitting Seager.
But Lewis walked Justin Smoak to start the sixth and was removed in favor of Poreda.
Neal Cotts got the first two outs of the eighth after giving up a one-run lead Friday, and Alexi Ogando got Zunino. Joakim Soria worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save of the season and Poreda’s first win since June 25, 2009.
“Awesome,” Washington said of Poreda. “He was getting early contact, and he threw strikes. It helped us, it helped us tremendously, that he was able to give us those two innings. He came in a did a good job.”