ARLINGTON, Texas — All right, then, the season is really under way.
Just as the Mariners were battering former teammate Tom Wilhelmsen in the eighth inning on Tuesday en route to an 10-2 victory over Texas, it turned, well…tense.
Wilhelmsen had given up four runs on a homer, two doubles and another homer in quick succession, which boosted a two-run lead to six runs, when he hit Chris Iannetta in the thigh.
That prompted an ejection for Wilhelmsen from home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson as Iannetta spat a series of angry words toward Wilhelmsen while walking toward first.
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"That’s just part of the game," Iannetta said later. "It’s baseball."
It also brought manager Scott Servais out of the dugout for pointed words (and a pointed finger) directed at Texas manager Jeff Banister, who then came barking out of the dugout.
They, too, chose their words carefully afterward.
"It’s baseball," Servais said. "We’ll leave it at that. We’re going to play Texas a lot this year. We certainly know they won the division last year, and we know we have to bring our `A’ game every night."
Banister said: "Emotions got high. That's about all I can say. I saw our guys converging (on the field). I came out (of the dugout) to keep our guys in check."
There was more to it, and much it was caught live on the Root Sports Northwest field microphone. But Servais is right; the two teams play 17 more times this season, including four times over the next eight days.
"I like that stuff," said Robinson Cano, whose leadoff homer started the barrage against Wilhelmsen. "You want your manager to show fire. He’s protecting his guy. You want a manager who protects you."
When tempers cooled, the Mariners didn’t.
Luis Sardinas greeted reliever Andrew Faulkner with a two-run homer. And the lead was 10-2.
It all escalated quickly because it was a 2-2 game when Seth Smith started the seventh inning with a pinch single against reliever Tony Barnette, who was making his big-league debut.
Barnette retired the next two hitters before Leonys Martin pulled a liner into the right-field corner. When Shin-Soo Choo bobbled the pick-up, Smith scored from first and Martin ended up on third.
The scoring was a double, an RBI and Martin to third on the error. Nori Aoki followed with an RBI single to center for his first hit in eight at-bats. The Mariners led 4-2.
Then it got wild.
Cano started the eighth by crushing a first-pitch homer against Wilhelmsen. Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager followed with doubles, which added another run.
Smith then rocked a 432-foot homer to right that made it 6-2…and Wilhelmsen followed that by hitting Iannetta.
"I would love to think it was an accident," Cruz said, "but only (Wilhelmsen) knows."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Ex-Ranger Leonys Martin broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning by lashing a two-out RBI double into the right-field corner.
PLUS: The Mariners hit three homers in their six-run eighth inning and four in all. They have six homers through two games…Luis Sardinas hit his first career homer as part of the six-run eighth inning. It came in his 232nd plate appearance…Sardinas and Scott Servais, who got his first managerial victory, received celebratory beer showers after the game in the clubhouse…Chris Iannetta reached base three times in four plate appearances after reaching base Monday in all three plate appearances…Nelson Cruz reached base four times…Seth Smith had a pinch single in his first at-bat of the season before hitting a two-run homer in his next at-bat…Robinson Cano has homers in his first two games. He hit two last season in his first 67 games.
MINUS: Shortstop Ketel Marte went 0-for-4 with an error for the second straight game….umpire Marvin Hudson had a rough night behind the plate. Either that or Pitchf/x needs to be recalibrated…Hudson’s zone was a big reason that Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma, normally efficient, required 90 pitches to get through five innings…Dae-Ho Lee grounded into a double play and flied to center in his first major-league start before getting removed for a pinch-hitter.
STAT PACK: Nelson Cruz’s leadoff homer in the fourth inning was his 92nd career homer at Globe Life Park, which ranks sixth in the stadium’s history. Rafael Palmeiro is the all-time leader with 130, followed by Juan Gonzalez (115), Ivan Rodriguez (108), Michael Young (101) and Alex Rodriguez (99).
QUOTABLE: Asked what he thought made Chris Iannetta so mad, Rangers reliever Tom Wilhelmsen said: "I think the fact that I hit him."
SHORT HOPS: Nick Vincent got the victory by pitching a scoreless sixth inning after replacing starter Hisashi Iwakuma. Joel Peralta followed with a scoreless seventh before Tony Zych pitched the last two innings…outfielder Seth Smith and catcher Steve Clevenger are scheduled to make their first starts Sunday in the series finale…the Mariners will learn today whether catcher Rob Brantly cleared waivers. If he does, he’ll be assigned outright to Triple-A Tacoma.
UP NEXT: Left-hander Wade Miley (11-11, 4,46 ERA in 2015 with Boston) vs. Texas right-hander Colby Lewis (17-9, 4.66) at 11:05 a.m. Pacific time. The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners