It shouldn’t have been this hard Thursday for the Mariners before they escaped with a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Guillermo Heredia’s two-out RBI single in the ninth inning.
The Mariners got five shutout innings from rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio, their latest conscript in an injury-depleted rotation. They also built a four-run lead behind homers from Jarrod Dyson and Jean Segura.
Then it slipped away.
Right-hander Casey Lawrence, a waiver-claim reclamation project from Toronto, marked his Mariners debut by giving up a two-run homer in the seventh inning to Matt Davidson.
Then still-struggling Dan Altavilla gave up back-to-back homers to Todd Frazier (who ravages the Mariners) and Tim Anderson with two outs in the eighth inning. That snatched a first big-league victory away from Gaviglio.
In the end, it was all preamble for Heredia, who pinch-hit for Ben Gamel with runners at first and second in order to get a right-handed bat against White Sox lefty reliever Dan Jennings.
Heredia lined a single into right field that scored Dyson for a walk-off victory.
The Mariners (20-22) have won three of four since suffering a four-game sweep last weekend at Toronto. The four-game series against the White Sox continues Friday and Saturday nights before concluding Sunday afternoon.
Three takeaways from Thursday’s victory:
***Gaviglio impresses: Gaviglio is a seven-year pro who pretty much defines organizational depth. He spent most of 2015 at Triple-A Tacoma but pitched much of last season at Double-A and appeared ticketed to return this year to Double-A.
Injuries then created an opportunity for Gaviglio to start the season at Tacoma and, as injuries mounted, he got promoted, for the first time in his career, to the big leagues.
He made his debut May 11 by pitching two innings of mop-up relief at Toronto before working five scoreless innings Thursday against the White Sox.
Gaviglio efficiently pitched to contact while stranding runners in four of his five innings. He exited after 75 pitches because of a limited workload over the last two weeks created concerns regarding his endurance.
"It’s just another baseball game," he said. "That’s the way you have to look at it. The distance from the home plate to the mound is the same. You’ve just got to remember that."
Maybe it was a fluke. Gaviglio’s stuff doesn’t dazzle in an eye-test examination. But five scoreless innings means he’ll get at least one more start as the Mariners continue to patch their rotation while awaiting the return of their injured starters.
***That’s what speed (and power?) do: It’s no surprise that Dyson leads the American League in stolen bases. Or that he scored easily from second base on Heredia’s walk-off single to right.
But Dyson also has homers in two of of his last four games. Legit homers. Not wall-scrapers. He had just seven homers total over his seven previous seasons.
"I just put a good swing on it," he said. "I haven’t been swinging it lately, so that was a good game for me. It’s something for me to build on. I caught it right there. Perfect swing. Got the results."
Dyson went 2-for-4 and raised his average to a still-unattractive .222, but his on-base percentage is over 100 points higher at .324. Also, he makes things happen. Dyson ranks second on the club with 24 runs. Only Segura has more.
***Seventeen and counting: Segura’s three-run homer boosted his hitting streak to 17 games, which is tied for the longest this season in the majors. Angels outfielder Mike Trout had a 17-game run earlier in the year.
Segura leads the American League with a .359 average and ranks fourth with a .404 on-base percentage (right in front of teammate Nelson Cruz at .401). He is also tied for fifth in hits despite missing 12 games because of a strained right hamstring.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners