ARLINGTON, Texas — Ty France’s two-run homer in the 11th inning finally put the Seattle Mariners ahead to stay to complete a series sweep in Texas. The unconventional double play the first baseman turned the inning before was really the difference in the game.
Without his strong throw across the diamond after he saw a Rangers runner way off third base, the game may have not gotten past the 10th inning to give France the opportunity to hit his 13th homer for a 9-8 victory on Thursday.
“Don’t get the conventional double play, but Ty France makes an unbelievable throw and we get the backside double play,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Then he walks up to the plate and wins it with his bat.”
Texas had a five-run ninth to force extra innings, and the Mariners intentionally walked Isiah Kiner-Falefa to start the 10th before All-Star slugger Adolis Garcia, who had already homered, hit what looked like a routine double-play grounder to third baseman Kyle Seager.
The first out was recorded, but after second baseman Abraham Toro’s high relay throw pulled France off the bag, the first baseman threw to shortstop J.P. Crawford, who tagged Yonny Hernandez after his wide turn around third.
“Actually Adolis had stepped on my foot, so I took a couple steps to like shake that off. And when I peeked up, Hernandez was halfway up the line,” France said. “So I just threw the ball and J.P. was right there.”
France then went deep off Joe Barlow (0-1), who would have given up another homer if not for a spectacular inning-ending leaping catch by Garcia, who had his glove extended over the wall in the awkward cutout fronting the Texas bullpen in right-center to rob Jake Fraley.
“A roller coaster of emotions,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “I was really proud of us for fighting back. Obviously, we didn’t play a very good game up to that point. Early on I thought, ‘Wow, this is one of our worst games.’ And somehow we were still in the game and fought back in the ninth inning.”
Joe Smith (2-1) walked a batter but benefited from that unusual double play when pitching a scoreless 10th in his 819th career appearance, the most among active pitchers. Paul Sewald worked the 11th for his sixth save in eight chances, though he gave up a two-out RBI single to Brock Holt.
Mitch Haniger hit his 27th homer for the Mariners (66-56), who won for the seventh time in eight games. They are 10 games over .500 for the first time since being 13-3 at the start of the 2019 season.
“The character that we show day in, day out, it’s really incredible,” Servais said.
The big Texas ninth was capped by Jason Martin’s three-run homer with two outs off closer Diego Castillo, who suffered his fifth blown save in 20 chances. The Rangers opened the ninth with three consecutive hits off Anthony Misiewicz, who was gone after Jonah Heim’s RBI double. Castillo then struck out two, but also walked a batter on a wild pitch that scored a run before Martin pulled his fourth homer into the right field seats.
Garcia’s 27th homer was a solo shot in the sixth, his fourth homer in 11 games after going deep only once the previous 20 games. He is within three of Pete Incaviglia’s Rangers rookie record of 30 homers set in 1986 and broke a tie with Mark Teixeira for the second most.
The five-run ninth marked the first time since Sept. 2, 1997, that the Rangers had a five-run inning in the ninth or later when trailing by that many runs to tie the game — or win 13-12 like they did that night against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a six-run ninth. … Texas had scored only six runs total in its previous 44 innings against Seattle, including four consecutive losses when scoring exactly one run.
Seattle led 5-0 lead after two innings. Seager drove in a run with his 300th career double in the first, and Haniger hit a three-run homer in the second. The only other players with 300 career doubles as Mariners are Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr., both Hall of Famers.
Seattle’s Chris Flexin had a two-run lead to work with before throwing his first pitch, then left after seven strong innings with a 6-2 lead. The right-hander struck out five, walked one and hit one while giving up two runs (one earned). Spencer Howard, the 25-year-old right-hander Texas got when All-Star starter Kyle Gibson and closer Ian Kennedy were traded to Philadelphia three weeks ago, allowed five runs and five hits in two innings.
Mariners start a three-game weekend series in Houston, with left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (7-6, 3.82 ERA) making his fourth start against the AL West-leading Astros this season. He is 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA against Houston.