ARLINGTON (AP) – Seattle ace Felix Hernandez was forced out of the game when he took a line drive off his right forearm during the Rangers’ six-run fourth inning Saturday, and Texas used a patchwork lineup to beat the Mariners 7-3 one day after it clinched the AL West title.
The Rangers had already scored four times in the fourth when Hernandez (14-14) was struck by Michael Young’s one-out liner. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner fell to the ground as the ball caromed toward third base for a single.
Hernandez was attended to by a team trainer, and was soon walking to the dugout, grimacing in pain and done for the day. The right-hander was charged with seven runs, five earned, and 12 hits in his shortest outing since he pitched 3 1-3 innings in an 8-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on May 7, 2010.
The Rangers secured their second straight division title about 15 hours before Saturday’s first pitch, and celebrated well into the night. Regulars Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus and Mike Napoli rested for the middle game of the series, and the Rangers really didn’t need them.
Esteban German and Andres Blanco each had three hits for Texas, which has won six of seven. Reliever Scott Feldman (2-1) allowed three runs and five hits in four innings to get the victory.
Rangers rookie Leonys Martin made his first big league start. The center fielder had two hits and scored twice.
The Rangers trailed 2-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth, but that didn’t last long. German and Endy Chavez had RBI singles and David Murphy followed with a two-run single.
After Young’s drive knocked out Hernandez, Jeff Gray threw wildly to the plate while trying to record a forceout at home. Two more runs scored on the error, giving Texas a 7-2 lead.
With four games remaining, the Rangers still have goals. They are competing with Detroit for the AL’s second-best record, with the winner receiving home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Texas took the lead in the second when Martin doubled and scored on Blanco’s single.
The Mariners responded with two runs in the fourth. Mike Carp had a sacrifice fly and Justin Smoak singled in a run.
Rangers starter Alexi Ogando pitched two perfect innings before he was lifted for Feldman. Ogando, the team’s No. 5 starter, is probably ticketed for the bullpen in the postseason when the Rangers go to a four-man rotation.
Ogando made his first start since Sept. 15 when he threw six shutout innings in a win over Cleveland. The Rangers have given the converted reliever extra rest down the stretch after he easily surpassed his career high for innings.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)