The dream of going 162-0 is over, but the Texas Rangers’ chances to be a contender this season will be enhanced if Martin Perez pitches like he did Tuesday night.
But the left-hander’s performance, while not perfect, was long forgotten by the time the eighth inning rolled around and the Seattle Mariners’ bats and an interesting amount of hell broke loose.
Three of the Mariners’ first five hitters of the inning hit home runs, two against former teammate Tom Wilhelmsen in his Rangers debut, to turn a two-run game into a rout and a 10-2 victory.
But, wait, that’s not all. Wilhelmsen plunked Chris Iannetta after the second Seattle homer, was immediately ejected, and almost as quickly managers Jeff Banister and Scott Servais barked at each other from just outside their teams’ dugouts.
Once order was restored, two Rangers relievers had turned in lousy debuts for their new team. Seattle broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh with two two-out runs against Tony Barnette, and Wilhelmsen surrendered five without retiring any of the five batters he faced.
“Clearly not the way I wanted to begin my stint here,” Wilhelmsen said. “They had a pretty good idea of what I had. On the other hand, my job is to back them off.
“Ugly. Embarrassed, but we’ll come back tomorrow.”
Leonys Martin, traded to the Mariners in November in the Wilhelmsen deal, drove in the go-ahead run with two-out double off Barnette, who was making his major league debut. Nori Aoki followed with an RBI single to put the Rangers in a 4-2 hole.
Wilhelmsen’s first pitch was launched 420 feet by Robinson Cano. Nelson Cruz followed by legging out a bloop double, and Kyle Seager followed with a double into the right-field corner.
0 Outs recorded Tuesday by Tom Wilhelmsen in his Rangers debut, which came against his former team
Seth Smith was next, and he drilled a home run into the right-field seats for an 8-2 lead.
Wilhelmsen’s next pitch found the legs of catcher Chris Iannetta. Plate umpire Marvin Hudson gave Wilhelmsen an immediate heave, and Iannetta exchanged words with Wilhelmsen as he went to first.
Banister emerged from the dugout to speak with Hudson, then pointed and yelled across the field at Servais after he had left the dugout. A lip reader might have blushed upon seeing a replay of what Banister had to say.
“Tom got ejected. Emotions got high,” Banister said. “That’s about all I can say.”
I’ve said it from the day I got the job, it’s ok to show emotion once in a while. It’s a serious game and you want to take it serious. There’s a lot of guys livelihoods at stake. It’s time to get after it. There were some things that went back and forth tonight. But it’s just part of the game.
Mariners manager Scott Servais
Luis Sardinas, traded by the Rangers to Milwaukee in the Yovani Gallardo trade in January 2015, greeted new pitcher Andrew Faulkner for a two-run homer, the first of his career, which served as an exclamation point on the Mariners’ inning.
But they had been held largely in check by Perez, who allowed two runs on only two hits but with four walks. He did well to escape the second with only one run allowed, thanks to an inning-ending double play from Dae-Ho Lee.
Cruz got Perez for a home run to start the fourth.
“The free passes are concerning in that game,” Banister said. “I felt good about the outing with the exception of that and the range of the breaking ball. I feel like he’ll find that rhythm and he’s going to be fine.”
The Rangers scored twice in the fourth to tie the score thanks to a pair of two-outs RBI singles by Elvis Andrus and Robinson Chirinos, the bottom two batters in the order.
Mitch Moreland doubled with one out and was still there two batters later after an Ian Desmond strikeout and a walk by Rougned Odor. Andrus dropped a liner into right field to bring home Moreland, and Odor scooted home on Chirinos’ second hit of the game, a single past third baseman Seager.
Perez delivered a shutdown inning in the fifth and saw first baseman Moreland start a nifty 3-6-3 double play to erase a one-out walk to Cruz and end the sixth. Perez was lifted at 88 pitches, many of them stressful in the Rangers’ eyes.
Tony Barnette became the second oldest Rangers player to make is major league debut at 32 years, 148 days. Only Yoshinori Tateyama (35 years, 149 days) was older in 2011.
Barnette was summoned for the bottom of the order. Wilhelmsen was called upon to keep the Rangers deficit at two runs.
By the time order was restored, Perez’s outing had long been forgotten.
“I threw quality pitches throughout the game,” Perez said. “You have to respect the manager’s decision. He told me before ‘That’s enough for you,’ and I said ‘That’s fine.’ It’s part of the game. I was just trying to have fun and throw the ball where I want it. For me it was a good outing.”
Rangers vs. Mariners
1:05 p.m. today
TV: FSSW Radio: KRLD/105.3 FM, ESPN/1540 FM (Sp.)
Rangers RHP Colby Lewis (17-9, 4.66 ERA) vs. Mariners LHP Wade Miley (11-11, 4.46)