ARLINGTON (AP) – Mitch Moreland delivered the tiebreaking double for the still undefeated Texas Rangers off Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. The young first baseman then earned a dinner from new teammate Adrian Beltre for his work with the glove.
Moreland put the Rangers ahead to stay with his RBI double into the right-field corner in the seventh. He then started the next inning with an incredible snag of Beltre’s bounced throw after the Gold Glove third baseman made an equally impressive stop in the Rangers’ 7-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.
“It was OK. He made a better play than I did because it was a tough hop I threw over there, a little two-seamer low. He picked it very nice,” said Beltre, who snagged Milton Bradley’s hard high chopper near the line. “Every time he does that I owe him a dinner. Hopefully he can save me a lot of errors.”
So far this season, the AL champion Rangers are flawless.
They wrapped up their season-opening homestand with their first 6-0 start since 1996, when they set a team record by winning their first seven games. Texas has a day off Thursday before starting its first road trip of the season Friday in Baltimore.
“Everybody’s talking about homers, but pitching and defense got us where we needed to be, got us six big wins,” designated hitter Michael Young said.
Moreland’s go-ahead hit in the seventh inning, which he pulled down the line into the right-field corner, made a winner of C.J. Wilson (1-0). Arthur Rhodes, the 41-year-old lefty, needed only four pitches to get through the 3-4-5 batters in the Seattle lineup in the eighth.
Hernandez (1-1) allowed four runs, two unearned, in seven innings. He struck out six and walked three.
“It was the wind first, I couldn’t get my balance. But after that I felt good. All the pitchers were working,” Hernandez said. “I know they’re gonna swing anyway, so I just have to make good pitches. It was pretty good today, I got seven innings.”
A pair of errors by newly converted second baseman Jack Wilson led to the Mariners’ troubles.
After pitching a complete game on opening day, Hernandez started against Texas with a 10-pitch walk to Ian Kinsler. The right-hander also walked AL MVP Josh Hamilton in the first without giving up a run.
But in the second, Hernandez allowed consecutive one-out singles and a walk to the bottom three hitters in the Texas lineup to load the bases. Wilson then made consecutive errors on what could have been ending-inning double plays.
Kinsler hit a grounder to third baseman Chone Figgins, whose throw to second was bobbled by Wilson without getting an out when a run scored. The next play was a grounder to shortstop Brendan Ryan, and Wilson got the forceout but threw wide of first after Kinsler slid in hard. Wilson was knocked to the ground and two runs scored on the errant throw.
Luis Rodriguez replaced Wilson at second base to start the bottom of the third.
“(Wilson) was a little hazy after that play at second base,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He was having trouble getting it back to we had to take him out.”
Known for making stellar plays at shortstop, Wilson had only played that position during 10 years in the majors until being shifted to second base this season. Ryan took over as the starting shortstop.
C.J. Wilson gave up two earned runs and six hits over seven innings. The crafty left-hander was a 15-game winner last season when he made the transition from reliever to starter.
“I thought he matched (Hernandez) pitch for pitch,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He held his composure and got us through seven innings. … Fortunatley we were able to come back and get some runs, and get the win. He deserved it.”
The Rangers broke it open in the bottom half of the eighth with three runs, two on a double by Nelson Cruz off Brandon League.
After playing their first six games on the road, the Mariners (2-4) have a day off Thursday before their home opener against Cleveland, Wedge’s old team.
During pregame festivities Friday in Seattle, Hernandez will be presented his Cy Young Award he won last season when he was 13-12 with a league-best 2.27 ERA.
Rodriguez had a leadoff double in the fifth and scored on a grounder. Bradley led off the sixth with a double and scored on a single by Jack Cust.
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