Lou Piniella used to say he didn’t care what his catcher hit – until he didn’t – as long as the team won when he was behind the plate.
The Seattle Mariners have noticed that Rob Johnson is hitting .212, but they’re more impressed with how he handles pitchers.
In his last 11 starts, the Mariners have won nine times, and in his 49 starts this year the team is 32-17.
That’s why he’s catching again tonight.
It’s Garrett Olson vs. Derek Holland – and the temperature is cooler in Arlington than it is in Seattle. Amazing.
Mr. Blalock, again
It only seems like Hank Blalock homers against Seattle every time they meet. One out into the second inning, Blalock hit his 20th of the season for Texas – and his fourth of the year in 33 at-bats against the Mariners.
It wasn’t cheap.
One out later, after an Andruw Jones walk, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his eighth of the season.
In the second: Rangers 3, Mariners 0
More Texas thunder
Michael Young homered, another 400-foot-plus shot against Olson. If the Rangers knew what was coming, they couldn’t swing much harder.
Chris Jakubauskas is warming up in the bullpen.
In the third: Rangers 4, Mariners 0
Thunder, thunder, thunder
Olson is out, Chris Jakubauskas is in and Michael Young doesn’t care.
Young just hit his second home run of the night and 16th of the season. The Mariners have one home run in their last seven games, so watching Texas hit four out tonight in the first four-plus innings is doing nothing for their confidence.
In the fifth: Rangers 5, Mariners 0
It’s not just the pitching
Aside from watching all those home runs, the Mariners have other problems tonight – like hitting.
Through six innings, Holland has allowed one single, period. No matter who was pitching for Seattle, that wouldn’t be enough.
That said, Mr. Olson may have made his last start for awhile. The Mariners are going to want to see Ian Snell before long, and Doug Fister is a possibility, too – although that might wait until September callups.
This is a tough park for pitchers trying to show they belong, and Jason Vargas starts here tomorrow night.
A lot of it is the pitching
OK, the Rangers are being worn down tonight, all that running the bases after hitting a home run.
What must Jack Wilson be thinking?
And in the end
Tip your cap to rookie Holland, who had never pitched beyond seven innings in his first nine big-league starts.
Tonight, he went 8 2/3 innings and allowed one baserunner in the first eight innings – Jack Hannahan’s ground ball single in the fifth inning. In the ninth, the Mariners ‘rallied’ when Johnson drew a walk anc, with two outs, Franklin Gutierrez singled on Holland’s 118th pitch.
At that point, he was lifted to a standing ovation, and Jose Lopez singled home a run against reliever Warner Madrigal.
The Mariners couldn’t have done much worse if they hadn’t shown up at all.