Texas Rangers starter Justin Grimm smiles after coming out of the game in the eighth inning against the Mariners on Friday in Seattle. (AP Photo)
SEATTLE — Justin Grimm struggled early only to rebound and turn in another quality start for the Texas Rangers, who had a little of everything go in their favor Friday night — even a double play that shouldn’t have been — in a 9-5 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Grimm (4-3) overcame a rough first few innings to pitch into the seventh despite giving up 10 hits. The Bristol, Va., native avoided a big inning, didn’t walk a batter and struck out five in beating the Mariners for the second time this season.
Joe Nathan got his 15th save of the season getting Michael Morse for the final out of the game after Seattle scored twice and had two runners on in the ninth.
Grimm wasn’t at his best early in the game. Seattle battered him for eight hits in the first 2 2-3 innings with relievers warming in the Texas bullpen. But Grimm managed to limit any major damage — helped by a blown call by first base umpire Jeff Nelson in the second — before settling down and retiring seven straight batters at one point.
Seattle’s chance at a big second inning took a hit with Nelson's botched call. Jesus Sucre hit a grounder to Mitch Moreland at first, who threw down to second to get the lead runner. The relay from Elvis Andrus back to first was in time to get Sucre but the throw was caught by Grimm, who was running over to cover, and not Moreland, whose foot was on the bag. Nelson missed that it was Grimm who caught the throw and called Sucre out.
“That happened so fast. I didn’t realize the umpire had called him out at first,” Grimm said. “... I was going over to cover the bag and Mitch took it on his own so when Elvis threw the ball it started to come toward me. I didn’t think Mitch was going to be able to get to it and I just snagged it up real quick in hopes to save a run and keep the double play in order.”
Seattle manager Eric Wedge went out to argue, but his argument was that Moreland had pulled his foot off the bag. He didn’t realize until watching the replay later that it was Grimm who caught the throw and it never reached Moreland’s glove.
“It would have been a much bigger argument if I had known that at the time,” Wedge said.
Some of the furor stopped when Brendan Ryan followed with a two-out RBI double to tie the game at 2 and was further muted by what the Rangers did against starter Joe Saunders and Seattle’s bullpen.
Still, the Rangers realized they got lucky.
“I didn’t have to see the replay,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I knew we caught a break there.”
Lance Berkman hit a three-run homer and Jeff Baker added a two-run shot, both off Saunders (3-5). Saunders entered the night 9-0 at Safeco Field, including a 3-0 mark with a 0.94 ERA this season. But he gave up six earned runs and eight hits in just five innings and the Mariners lost their seventh straight.