10/02/2004 9:44 PM ET
Rogers notches 18th victory
Young drives in four runs to pace 14-hit outburst
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
|Kenny Rogers pitched six-plus innings to earn his 18th win of the season on Saturday. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
SEATTLE -- Kenny Rogers put the finishing touches Saturday on a season in which he defied Father Time from April through October.
Asked last February, to be the ace of the Texas staff at age 39, Rogers responded in admirable fashion, giving Texas a career-high 35 starts and a career-high 18 wins.
The 18th win came Saturday in the next-to-last game as the Rangers pounded Seattle, 10-4. It was a nice, neat pitching performance typical of what Rogers (18-9) has accomplished for much of the year. Overpowering, no. Effective, yes.
With a sellout crowd at Safeco Field on hand to see the Ichiro Suzuki hit parade and wave goodbye to retiring Edgar Martinez, Rogers allowed seven hits and three runs through five innings plus three batters. Thanks to excellent run support, he left the mound for the final time in 2004 with a comfortable six-run cushion and the bullpen took it home to make sure Rogers' bid for a career-high in wins was successful.
Just one month shy of his 40th birthday, Rogers now has a full offseason to reflect on the personal and team accomplishments that have made his return to the Rangers a rousing success.
Rogers was 11-2 at the end of June as the Rangers staked their claim as a legitimate playoff contender sans Alex Rodriguez. Although Rogers' numbers over the final three months didn't match what he did in the first three months, the cumulative figures are indeed impressive. Rogers' 18th win was the most by a Texas pitcher since Aaron Sele went 18-9 in 1999.
"I'm happy with it, without a doubt," Rogers said. "The guys scored a lot of runs for me today, which was huge. I didn't pitch as well as I did in the first half, so it was a little disappointing . But it's hard to keep up that pace. I'm real happy with 18 wins. If somebody had said before the season you could have 18, I'd have taken it and run."
The success of the team, Rogers said, made it a particularly gratifying year.
"These guys busted their tails all year long," Rogers said. "I pitched good at times, but a lot of times I was the beneficiary of the runs that they scored for me."
Rangers manager Buck Showalter saluted the accomplishments of Rogers, who finished with a 4.76 earned run average in a team-high 211 2/3 innings.
"Kenny is a guy who has a lot of ways to get people out and keeps having success," Showalter said. "We couldn't have gone as far as we did without him. He led our team in innings pitched and wins and always had the right thing to say to a lot of our young players."
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the second on Jolbert Cabrera's RBI double, but Michael Young put Texas ahead with a two-run homer off Seattle starter Jamie Moyer in the fourth. After the Mariners tied it again at 2-2, an RBI double by Young, who drove in four runs, a two-run double by Mark Teixeira and a run-scoring double by Kevin Mench pushed Texas to a 6-2 lead.
The Rangers then broke it wide open in the sixth when Rod Barajas, Manny Alexander and Young had run-scoring hits to boost Texas to a 9-2 advantage.
If Rogers is as good next year at 40 as he was at 39, the Rangers will be delighted.
"The reward for the year he has," Showalter said, "is the chance to do it again."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.