No pitcher has ever lost more games to the Texas Rangers than one of the best pitchers in the game today.
That doesn’t seem to any make sense, but it’s true. And Felix Hernandez suffered his worst beatdown by the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon as they ready for the stretch run.
Leonys Martin hit a three-run homer and drove in a career-high four runs, and the Rangers rocked Hernandez for nine runs in three-plus innings en route to a 12-4 rout and a three-game sweep of Seattle.
The win allowed the Rangers to keep their 2 1/2-game lead over Oakland in the American League West. The A’s countered the Rangers’ sweep with three straight wins at Detroit, including their own blowout (14-4) on Wednesday night.
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“We faced two of the best pitchers in the league, and to able to sweep this team with those two guys throwing in the series is huge for us,” said second baseman Ian Kinsler, referencing a 4-3 win Tuesday in a game started by Hisashi Iwakuma.
“Every game is extremely important. You have to manage the season, and Wash has done a great job setting us up for this last month.”
Geovany Soto delivered a two-run double with two outs in the third, and Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland added homers off Brandon Maurer. Beltre’s blast came on Maurer’s second pitch in relief of Hernandez, and Moreland’s shot to start the seventh gave him the first 20-homer season of his career.
Martin Perez allowed two runs in six innings to earn his eighth victory, which leads all American League rookies. He won for the fifth time in August, tops in the AL, and beat his boyhood idle, Hernandez, for the second time in 12 days.
Hernandez escaped the first inning despite allowing singles to Ian Kinsler and Beltre, but he couldn’t get out of the second. Martin got him with two outs on a long drive to left-center field for a 3-0 lead.
Soto delivered the big two-out hit in the third after Moreland had struck out with runners at second and third. Soto, playing for the second time on the road trip, hit a liner to left field that Raul Ibanez short-hopped to allow Kinsler and Alex Rios to score.
“I thought for sure he was going to catch it, but it was back-spinning,” Soto said.
The Rangers started the fourth with four straight hits, a double by Jurickson Profar, an RBI single by Martin, an RBI double by Elvis Andrus and an RBI single by Kinsler.
Hernandez was done, but the Rangers weren’t. Beltre launched the second pitch from Brandon Maurer into the Rangers’ bullpen for a 10-0 lead, nine of which were charged to the 2010 American League Cy Young winner.
Andrus pointed to the hits by Martin and Soto as the difference.
“That homer by Leonys and the hit by Soto, after that it was a lot easier,” Andrus said. “It was a team effort. Everybody did their part. We took every opportunity.”
The Rangers had no problem with Hernandez this season. He went 0-4 in five starts with a 7.57 ERA (23 earned runs in 27 1/3 innings), and his 20 career losses to the Rangers are the most of any pitcher all time.
Eight of the nine Rangers starters had a hit, and eight of the nine scored a run. Andrus and Beltre had three hits apiece, and Martin was one of five with two hits each.
“Any time you face one of the best pitchers in the league, it’s a great challenge to be able to beat him,” Andrus said. “We know we have to do every little thing to score and make him uncomfortable out there.”
Perez didn’t allow a hit until Kyle Seager singled with one out in the fourth. The Mariners got four more hits against Perez, including solo homers by Dustin Ackley and Seager, but he coasted to his eighth victory since June 22.
As the Rangers were piling up the runs, he refused to relax.
“You have to go and compete, no matter how many runs you have,” Perez said. “You have to throw strikes. You have to attack. You never know what’s going to happen in the game.”
That includes handing Hernandez, one of the best pitchers in the game, with the most career losses against the Rangers than any other pitcher.
“We don’t own him,” manager Ron Washington said. “No one owns him. But he’s only human, and there’s some days he’s going to go out there and things aren’t going to fall into place. Fortunately for us, today was one of those days.”