Rangers Falter in Season Finale to Seattle, Houston wins AL West
SEATTLE (AP) — The elation of less than 24 hours earlier inside the Texas Rangers clubhouse was replaced with disappointment about a major missed opportunity.
The Rangers are thrilled to be back in the postseason, but failed to win American League West title and earn some extra time off when they lost to the Seattle Mariners 1-0 on Sunday.
Coupled with Houston’s 8-1 win over Arizona, the defeat handed the AL West title to the Astros (90-72) as the result of the season-series tiebreaker and sent Texas (90-72) to the postseason as a wild card team for a best-of-three series at Tampa Bay starting Tuesday.
“There’s always going to be disappointment because this game was big. It was huge. And so I’m sure there’s disappointment in there,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “Once we get on the plane realizing you’re in postseason, and like I said, you get your head back to where it needs to be.”
Instead of days of rest and home-field advantage, the Rangers will have to advance from the Wild Card Series to ensure playing at least one home game this postseason. Including off days, the Rangers spent 159 days in first place this season. Yet it’s the Astros that will be raising a division championship banner.
“Today’s loss hurts. Definitely a game that we wanted for our home fans, but we’re gonna have to take a different route now to get to our ultimate goal,” Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien said.
The loss was the result of Texas being unable to solve Seattle starter George Kirby and a pitching staff that was at the foundation of a Mariners team that was in the AL playoff race until Game No. 161 and was eliminated with Saturday's loss to the Rangers.
Kirby allowed three hits in six innings and he closed the regular season with 12 scoreless innings over his final two starts against Houston and Texas. Evan Carter’s two-out double in the third inning was the first hit for the Rangers, but he was the only runner to reach second base. Adolis García and Jonah Heim both singled, but that was all the offense the Rangers could manage.
Kirby (13-10) struck out seven and needed just 75 pitches to get through six innings.
“Super happy the way it finished. Finished on a high note. Unfortunately, wish it was in the playoffs, but we’ll be ready for next year,” Kirby said.
Prelander Berroa and Trent Thornton worked the seventh and eighth innings, and Isaiah Campbell earned his first big league save in the ninth as Seattle pitched its its MLB-best 18th shutout to close the season in just 2 hours, 1 minute.
“The Rangers desperately needed that game to win the division. It didn’t happen because our guys showed up and we pitched a very good game today,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
Dane Dunning (12-7) started on three days' rest for Texas and worked 3 2/3 innings. He ran into trouble in the fourth with back-to-back singles by Eugenio Suárez and Jarred Kelenic and a walk to Ty France loading the bases.
Suárez scored on Dominic Canzone’s infield ground out, sliding just under Heim’s tag attempt at the plate.
“Just a couple of good at-bats from them in that fourth inning. I made some quality pitches there and they were able to put balls into gaps," Dunning said.
FACING THE RAYS
Texas went 4-2 against Tampa Bay in the regular season. The Rangers went 1-2 during a three-game series at Tampa Bay in mid-June before sweeping a three-game series at home just after the All-Star break.
Kirby had talked back in spring training of having a knuckleball in his pitch mix, but never threw it until the first pitch to Corey Seager leading off the fourth inning. Seager swung and missed at the 73 mph pitch.
Suárez, Seattle's third baseman, and Texas shortstop Marcus Semien both finished the season appearing in all 162 games.
Suárez is the fifth different Mariners player to accomplish the feat an the first since Ichiro Suzuki in 2010.
Semien is the 11th Texas player to appear in every game and the second to start every game of the season in the field, joining Ruben Sierra in 1989.
Seager lost the AL batting title on the final day to Tampa Bay’s Yandy Díaz, who didn’t play in the Rays’ season finale. Seager went 0 for 4 and finished at .327. He started the day leading Díaz .3298 to .3295.
Seattle finished the regular season with an unofficial home attendance of 2,690,931. That’s a significant jump from 2,287,267 last season and the highest attendance for Seattle since 2,725,459 in 2005.
Rangers: Will face Tampa Bay in Game 1 of the wild-card series on Tuesday. The starter will be announced Monday.
Mariners: Seattle’s spring training opener is on Feb. 24 against the Chicago White Sox.