That loud screeching sound heard across the Metroplex on Monday was Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais stomping on the brakes in the seventh inning at Globe Life Park.
The game was cruising right along, as was Mariners starter Wade LeBlanc. He had allowed only one hit in 6 1/3 innings before Elvis Andrus extended his MLB-leading hit streak to 17 games with an infield single on LeBlanc’s 82nd pitch.
But that was it for LeBlanc, who was the first and most effective of the four — four! — pitchers in the inning. Two of them issued three free bases, two walks and a hit by pitch.
The HBP led to a massive delay as Servais contended that the ball hit Robinson Chirinos’ bat first and not his finger. After making the umpires huddle on it, the Mariners then asked for a review, which didn’t seem right.
Then, after the call stood, Servais switched pitchers.
Someone send film of the inning to commissioner Rob Manfred, who seems willing to try anything to shorten games. There was plenty to clean up there.
The Texas Rangers weren’t going to complain. They got themselves back into the game with three runs.
It turns out they had five more chances to win it. So did the Mariners.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 4-3 loss in 12 innings.
1. Martin Perez keeps giving the Rangers innings, continues to give them a chance to win and continues to limit the damage when foes have a chance to do damage.
For the most part.
The Mariners didn’t have much solid contact against him among their 10 hits. Mike Zunino homered, Ryon Healy had a double, and Kyle Seager’s first-inning liner was snared by Jurickson Profar.
Seattle had its fare share of infield hits and bloopers fall in, and Perez maneuvered around the two walks he issued over the first two innings. His work to escape the sixth down only 3-0 was one of the keys to the game.
In the end, which for Perez came after the seventh, it was, for the most part, another good outing. He’s done that in four of his five starts since coming off the disabled list.
“I thought he did a great job being able to navigate, for the most part,” manager Jeff Banister said.
For the most part, the Rangers need Perez for the 2019 rotation. They need someone affordable, which Perez would be at $7.5 million. They need someone who will post each time, barring another off-season run-in with a bull, and log innings.
The downside to keeping him is that the Rangers could probably find a cheaper option, and he potentially would be blocking a young starter. Then again, general manager Jon Daniels is under no orders to cut salary, and the Rangers don’t have many young starters who are screaming for a rotation spot.
They will also need four starters. Perez, who isn’t exactly old at 27, should be one of them.
2. Banister stepped out of a managerial comfort zone by using Chirinos as the designated hitter, meaning that both Rangers catchers were in the same lineup.
Chirinos gave him no choice, especially against the left-handed LeBlanc.
No catcher in the American League had collected more home runs (15) or extra-base hits (29) than Chirinos. He entered Monday batting .297 in his past 25 games and with a .873 OPS this season vs. lefties.
By playing Chirinos and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the Rangers had an extra right-handed hitter against LeBlanc.
Chirinos’ left pinkie was part of the Rangers’ rally in the seventh, although a righty hit him, and Kiner-Falefa delivered the game-tying single off righty Alex Colome.
Chirinos, though, couldn’t score from second, which left Banister after the game wondering aloud if they should have used a runner for Chirinos. Doing that, though, would have left the Rangers on a foul tip away from Profar catching.
The two-catcher move did more good than harm. Even in the 12th, Chirinos and Kiner-Falefa delivered hits only to see Willie Calhoun and Shin-Soo Choo strand them against Mariners All-Star closer Edwin Diaz.
Kiner-Falefa threw out Jean Segura trying to steal second in the top half, an out that saved a run. He’s essentially learning on the job at the baseball’s highest level, and he has shoved his way into the long-term catching conversation with Jose Trevino.
What a season IKF has had.
3. Good news on the Nomar Mazara front: He thinks he will be back in the Rangers’ lineup in two weeks, and Banister seems to think it could be sooner than that.
Mazara is doing all baseball activities, with hitting the least of his concerns. The difficulties he was having only a week ago putting a glove on and catching a ball have abated.
The right fielder will play again this season, though that never really seemed to in doubt despite his sprained right thumb taking longer to heal.
The Rangers will have some roster maneuvering to do before Mazara is activated following a rehab assignment that could begin this week. He’s one of three injured outfielders.
Ryan Rua (back spasms) can come off the DL at any time. Delino DeShields is eligible to come off the seven-day concussion list Friday.
But once Mazara is back, he will take over in right field, Joey Gallo will be the regular left fielder, and Calhoun will no longer have a place to get regular at-bats.
Would the Rangers keep Calhoun in the roster for three weeks before roster expand Sept. 1? Or would they consider shipping him to Round Rock to finish out the Triple A season getting as an everyday player?
Speaking of Sept. 1, Scott Heineman is deserving of a promotion. He has to go on the 40-man roster during the off-season anyway to avoid exposure to the Rule 5 draft, and the Rangers are considering doing it in September.
However, if Rua, Robinson and Calhoun are all on the expanded roster with Mazara, Gallo, DeShields and Carlos Tocci, do the Rangers want to carry eight outfielders?
Might as well. The outfield is going to be crowded anyway.