Kinsler, Rangers rally past Mariners
Second baseman homers, has key hit in go-ahead seventh
ARLINGTON -- The second-largest crowd of the season couldn't have expected this.The Rangers used a suicide squeeze to score, Jason Botts made a great defensive play and Ian Kinsler provided clutch hitting as the Rangers rallied from a three-run deficit to defeat the Mariners, 5-3, on Saturday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "If you replay the game tonight, it didn't look like we had a chance," manager Ron Washington said. "We kept the right attitude and ended up getting the win, and hopefully [the 47,977 fans] enjoyed it." Especially the suicide squeeze. The Rangers had taken a one-run lead on Kinsler's infield single earlier in the inning. Kinsler made it to third on a throwing error by Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre. Gerald Laird came to the plate against Seattle reliever Rick White with the squeeze on. White read the squeeze and came high and inside with a pitch on line for Laird's head, but Laird somehow made contact. "It was either get the bunt down or eat out of a straw," Laird said. "That's what they're taught to do [come up and in]." "It was the perfect situation," Washington said. "I'm glad he got wood on it, because it probably would've popped him in the face." Kinsler felt he left too early on the squeeze, which is why White knew it was on.
"It looked like Gerald wanted to pull back," Kinsler said. "But, I don't think any of the fans had seen [a suicide squeeze] before in this park."While the squeeze play is an uncommon sight to Rangers fans, and it provided an insurance run, Washington felt it was Botts' defensive play that was "the game-saver." Botts, who made a rare start in left field, gunned down Jose Guillen for the final out of the top of the seventh inning with a perfect one-hop strike to Laird to keep the game tied at 3. It was Botts' first assist of the season and second of his career. "He got to it and made a heck of a throw," Laird said. "I got in front of the plate and made him slide around me. We got the out and carried the momentum to the dugout." The Rangers carried the momentum into the bottom half of the inning to take the lead. Travis Metcalf singled to right-center and Kinsler followed with an infield single. Beltre made an errant throw, allowing Metcalf to score the go-ahead run and Kinsler to advance to third, which set up the suicide squeeze. The Rangers made the lead stand and came from behind for the 34th time this season. The Mariners scored single runs in the second, third and fifth innings off Rangers starter Jamey Wright to take an early three-run lead. Raul Ibanez drew a walk to lead off the second and eventually scored on a Richie Sexson sacrifice fly. In the third, Wright hit Adam Jones to start the inning. Jones scored on Jose Vidro's double to left. Vidro scored in the fifth on an RBI single by Beltre. Wright gave the Rangers a solid spot start, allowing three runs (all earned) on seven hits over five innings in a no-decision. It was his first start since July 27. While the entire team received a much-needed confidence boost, it was especially critical for Kinsler, as he broke out of a 3-for-30 slump. He went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Kinsler pulled the Rangers even with the Mariners at 3 in the fifth with a three-run home run to left. Nelson Cruz singled and Metcalf reached on an error by Beltre, bringing up Kinsler. "I'm definitely starting to feel more comfortable at the plate," Kinsler said. It was Kinsler's career-high 16th home run. Kinsler also continued to provide stellar defense since returning from the disabled list July 31. He has not committed an error since June 20. "Going on the DL was a blessing," Kinsler said. "At the beginning of the season, Wash wanted to change some things, and of course, I felt uncomfortable at first, but I used my time [on the DL] to work on some things." Kinsler committed 14 errors in 68 games this season, after committing just 18 errors in 120 games in 2006. "He's maturing," Washington said. "As far as his defense goes, that can be credited to a lot of hard work to clear things up."
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.