Rangers' big flies sour Snell's debut
Mariners righty turns in solid performance in no-decision
ARLINGTON -- The way right-hander Ian Snell performed in his Mariners debut on Sunday night fell short of a victory, but was worth plenty of kudos.Four days after being acquired from the Pirates, Snell faced the heavy-hitting Rangers in the four-game series finale, surrendered three hits over six innings and walked away with a no-decision in a game the Mariners lost, 4-2, before 28,670 at Rangers Ballpark. Right-handed reliever Sean White surrendered a decisive two-run home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the seventh -- a drive that clanked against the right-field foul pole. The game ended with shortstop Jack Wilson being called out on a pitch he thought for sure he had foul-tipped. As the ball rolled away from catcher Saltalamacchia, Wilson stepped away from the plate to gather his thoughts and prepare for the next pitch. "I was taking practice swing and heard, 'You're out,'" Wilson said. "It caught me by surprise because I knew I tipped it. If I hadn't, I would have taken off to first base." Wilson and manager Don Wakamatsu disagreed with the call. The umpiring crew huddled before agreeing that Wilson's bat never touched the ball and the game was over. "It's a tough way to end the game," Wilson said. Saddled with a third loss in the four-game series, the Mariners dropped a season-high 10 games behind the Angels in the American League West. It was a bittersweet night for the 23-year-old Snell. "He did a nice job," Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair said. "He competed and made good pitches when he had to. Overall, he handled himself well for pitching in Texas for the first time against this ballclub." Wakamatsu agreed. "I was impressed, especially for the first time in a Mariners uniform. I thought he battled. I really liked his stuff and I thought he mixed his pitches well. His command was a little erratic, but that was probably jitters and nerves with this being his first outing. "But to come into this ballpark and give up three hits or so against this lineup ... I thought he did a tremendous job. He got a little tightness in his forearm, and that was from when he got hit by a ball [in his most recent outing], but we had him checked out, and he's fine. I think the heat and the emotion made him a little bit tired, so we took him out after six." Acquired from the Pirates on Wednesday, along with Wilson, Snell battled through some command issues, but worked well with catcher Rob Johnson. The game plan was to mix speeds and keep the Rangers off balance as much as possible. "They are good hitters over there, and they like hard stuff," Johnson said, "so you have to slow them down with something slow, like a changeup, and then come after them hard. We had a game plan, and he pretty much stuck with it. Only thing we changed was using the two-seamer more, and he got a lot of ground balls." Michael Young got his first glimpse of Snell and came away impressed. "He looked great," Young said. "He's got life on his fastball, his slider was sharp and he had a good changeup." Snell threw 84 pitches and just 49 of them were strikes. But he issued just two walks and struck out three. "I am very pleased with the way I pitched, but we came out in the short end," he said. "My job is to keep the team in the game, and I did that." The major glitches in the outing were solo home runs to David Murphy in the first inning on a 3-and-1 count, and one to Young in the sixth on a 1-and-2 count. That's the one that really hurt because it was the first batter Snell faced after getting a lead for the first time. The Mariners had just scored both of their runs in the top of the inning to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run lead. Young took care of that with his 17th home run of the season. "He made one mistake and that was the one to Michael," Adair said. "He threw two breaking balls that were up. One was a called strike, and the other was hit." Scoreless and stymied on one hit through five innings against right-hander Scott Feldman, the Mariners finally broke through in the sixth. Johnson, who has taken over the bulk of the catching duties, reached on a leadoff single and Michael Saunders drew a four-pitch walk. Ichiro Suzuki followed with a line-drive single to right field that was hit so hard that Johnson was held up at third. He scored the tying run on Russell Branyan's broken-bat grounder to second baseman Omar Vizquel and Jose Lopez dumped a go-ahead single into shallow center field, just out of the reach of shortstop Elvin Andrus. The budding rally ended when Ken Griffey Jr. grounded into a double play. "Feldman was awfully tough," Wakamatsu said. "I have seen this kid and he gets better every time. He came into the league as a reliever and this was his 10th win. I think you have to tip your hat. He just didn't throw anything over the center of the plate and kept our hitters off balance." The Mariners are off on Monday before facing the Royals on Tuesday night in Kansas City in the opener of a three-game series.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.