Adrian Sampson and the Texas Rangers like the results of these delayed lengthy pitching appearances, with the right-hander entering after an “opener” gets through the first few batters.
Sampson allowed one earned run over 5 1/3 innings after taking over in the second inning Wednesday, getting his second big league victory in a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners. That is the same way he got his first victory five days earlier against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“As long as we get wins, everyone’s happy,” Sampson said.
“Whether he likes it, I don’t know fully because I don’t think he’ll tell me like I hate this,” manager Chris Woodward said. “It’s so nice to have a guy like that, who’s willing to come in in the middle of the inning, can come in in the middle of an inning and pitch six innings.”
Hunter Pence homered for the Rangers (24-23), who completed a three-game series sweep. They have won seven of eight to get back over .500 for the first time since April 28.
The Mariners have lost 27 of 37 games to fall to the bottom of the AL West standings since starting the season 13-2.
Marco Gonzalez (5-4) limited Texas to one earned run over seven innings, but dropped to 0-4 with a 4.56 ERA in five starts in May. The lefty was 5-0 after his first seven starts this season, but this was one of his sharpest games.
“Doesn’t matter. We lose, it doesn’t matter. I’m not OK with it,” Gonzalez said. “It’s hard to be OK with it when we lose.”
Pence put the Rangers up 2-0 in the sixth when he went deep on a changeup, his 10th homer of the season. Texas got an unearned run in the first when Pence reached on an error by first baseman Edwin Encarnación and scored on a double by Nomar Mazara .
Jesse Chavez got the first five outs for the Rangers. Shawn Kelley worked the ninth for his fourth save in five chances, his second in less than 24 hours since coming off the injured list following the removal of two lumps from his throat that were determined to benign.
In five starts this season, Sampson is 0-2 with a 7.66 ERA and hasn’t gone more than five innings. Pitching in relief, he is 2-1 with a 1.48 ERA. His first appearance was allowing one run over six innings in relief against Houston on April 1.
“I feel like I’m just finding comfort in pitching lately,” Sampson said. “Whether I’m starting or coming out of the bullpen, I just feel good out there right now.”
Mazara was 6 for 12 with four doubles in the series. The right fielder also had an impressive leaping catch near the wall in the fourth of the finale. “I knew where it was and I did a good job of timing it,” Mazara said.
Seattle turned five double plays. … Pence has at least 10 homers for the 11th time in his career. He went deep only four times last season with San Francisco. … Chavez has pitched 11 scoreless innings in his last eight games.
Mariners: C Omar Narváez left the game with a bruised left knee. He took a foul tip off his knee in the bottom of the third, and is day-to-day. “Omar got smoked good. He got hit about a week ago in the same spot,” manager Scott Servais said. … 3B Kyle Seager, who had surgery to repair the tendon of his left middle finger during spring training, is on track for his season debut Saturday. That is when is eligible to come off the 60-day injured list. Servais said Seager felt good physically during his rehab assignment and isn’t having any issues with his hand.
Rangers: OF Willie Calhoun was placed on the 10-day injured list because of a left quad strain. He hurt it as a baserunner in Tuesday night’s game. … SS Elvis Andrus (right hamstring strain) hit a solo homer in a rehab game with Double-A Frisco. He is eligible to return to the Rangers’ lineup Saturday.
Mariners: Seattle will be in Oakland on Friday night for the opener of a weekend series.
Rangers: Texas starts a series Friday night at the Los Angeles Angels. LHP Drew Smyly (0-3, 6.51) is still looking for his first big league victory since 2016, before Tommy John surgery and missing the last two seasons.