Rangers top M’s to gain ground in wild-card race
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers are asking Delino DeShields to be a key piece of what the team hopes is a stretch run that ends with a playoff berth.
He showed Monday night how he’s capable of doing that in his new role of everyday center fielder with Carlos Gomez out because of injury.
Batting leadoff, DeShields went 2-for-4 with two runs scored — including the game-winner — and a home run in the Rangers’ 5-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
That’s not only speed but some rare power.
For one night, at least, he was Willie Mays.
“It’s a good combo to have,” said DeShields, who established a career high with his fifth home run. “I’ve been working very hard this year as far as my preparation goes, trying to be as consistent with myself given the opportunities I’ve been given. Every day I come to the ballpark and I’m ready to go. I trust God’s plan.
“It all leads up to this moment. I’m ready for it, I’m ready to be plugged in there every day. Give a chance to give this team a spark. Give the guys some energy.”
Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo each had two-run doubles for the Rangers (72-71), who snapped a two-game skid while picking up a half game in its pursuit of the American League’s second wild-card berth.
Seattle (71-73) lost for the fifth time in seven games to fall 3 1/2 games behind the Twins.
Cole Hamels (10-3) picked up the victory, giving up three runs, six hits and one walk in six innings. The left-hander matched a season high with seven strikeouts. He entered 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA in his previous three starts yet improved to 7-0 with a 3.50 ERA at home.
Seattle’s Mitch Haniger was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, going 3-for-4. That included his 12th home run, a two-run shot that cut Texas’ three-run lead to 4-3.
Haniger has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, including seven multi-hit games.
Kyler Seager belted his 23rd home run for the Mariners.
Hamels scuffled in the first two innings, but after giving up Haniger’s two-run homer in the third, he settled in.
Hamels retired 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced and stranded two baserunners in the fifth and sixth innings.
Right-hander Matt Bush and left-hander Jake Diekman each worked an inning of scoreless relief.
Left-hander Alex Claudio picked up his eighth save with a perfect ninth, aided by a good defensive play by third basemen Will Middlebrooks, who dived to his left to rob Ben Gamel of a base hit and Seattle the tying run at the plate in the form of Jean Segura.
“Haniger had a nice night,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We’ve got to do more offensively certainly in this ballpark to have a chance to win a ballgame.
“We struck out too much tonight. You’ve got to get the ball in play. Nothing good happens when you strike out. Hamels was Hamels. He hung in there.”
Seattle left-hander Ariel Miranda (8-7) gave up four runs, six hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings.
The poor outing snapped Seattle’s streak of seven consecutive quality starts, dating to Sept. 3. In the month, starters entered 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 15 walks in nine starts.
“Miranda just didn’t have much in the tank at all tonight,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “You could kind of see that early on. Was hoping to get a couple innings out him. Didn’t happen. He’s running on fumes right now.”
The Rangers scored two runs in each of the first two innings after putting nine of their first 13 hitters on base.
Mazara’s two-run double with one out in the first inning was followed by Choo’s two-run double in the second that scored Ryan Rua, who walked, from second and DeShields — who beat out a bunt hit — from first.
DeShields was blazing around the base paths and almost caught Rua and then, with his head down, ran through third-base coach Jason Wood, subbing for Tony Beasley, who was not with the team because of a personal matter.
DeShields slid safely under the tag of Seattle Catcher Mike Zunino at home.
Banister pardoned his center fielder, saying, “It’s hard to stop a race car.”
“I saw it at the last second,” DeShields said. “As soon as the ball hit the ground, I just took off. As soon as I looked up he was giving me the stop sign, but there was no stopping. I was full throttle right there.
“I think Beasley might have sent me, having seen me all year. But I’m glad I got there.”
NOTES: Seattle OF Jarrod Dyson elected to have surgery on a sports hernia-like injury and miss the rest of the season, manager Scott Servais said before the game. ... Seattle LHP James Paxton (pectoral muscle) and RHP Felix Hernandez (shoulder bursitis) threw bullpen sessions. ... Mariners RHP Ryan Weber was activated from the 60-day DL and outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma. ... Texas RHP Keone Kela (shoulder) also threw a bullpen session on Monday. ... Beasley’s absence was not health related, a Rangers officials said. Beasley missed most of last year dealing with rectal cancer.