Cruz launches, Felix labors, as M’s sweep Rangers.

The Texas Rangers entered tonight’s game with a team batting average of .212, by far the lowest in the major leagues.  They faced Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, coming off his best start of the season.  Felix seemed to fight himself most of the night, but managed to get the win as the Mariners swept the Rangers in the series finale 5-2.

The M’s featured plenty of offense, if one counts putting men on base.  With nine hits, six walks and the beneficiaries of four Rangers errors, this game probably should have been a blowout.  But timely hitting remained elusive for the Mariners as they were 3-15 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base.  Aggressive baserunning had Ricky Weeks thrown out at the plate twice on contact plays from third base. Brad Miller was thrown out at third on a subsequent play.  It seemed the bases were full of Mariners most of the night, but clutch hitting simply was not a weapon in their arsenal.

They were beneficiaries of another Nelson Cruz home run, a rocket shot that got out into the second deck of the Globe Life Stadium fast and far.  Taped by StatCast at 483 feet, it is the longest homer in the majors so far this season.  Logan Morrison’s 4-5 night ended weeks of futility and drove in two runs to keep the Rangers just out of reach, including a key single in the 9th inning to score Robinson Cano.

Hernandez seemed to struggle with the strike zone throughout his 6.2 inning outing.  It was a contrast to his efficient outing against the Twins April 24th.  Though only in serious trouble in the 2nd when the Rangers scored both their runs, the Felix threw 114 pitches in this game in contrast to the 102 pitch complete game he spun against Minnesota. If Felix didn’t have his A game, it still seemed more than enough to hold down a Texas team that is increasingly looking like last year’s injury-riddled squad. Hernandez finished April with a 4-0 record.

Tonight the M’s found their walking shoes and dancing shoes, but they’re still looking for their hitting shoes. They’ll need them as they head into Houston for a four game series against the division leader.

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