The key moment in Monday’s hold-on victory over Colorado came when the Mariners summoned right-hander Dan Altavilla to face dangerous Mark Reynolds with the tying run on base with two outs in the eighth inning.
It was a high-leverage situation for a struggling reliever seeking to unlock his high-ceiling potential. Manager Scott Servais could have summoned veteran Steve Cishek or called on closer Edwin Diaz for a four-out save.
Instead, after a brief conversation with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., Servais opted for Altavilla, who had a 5.94 ERA and had given up 12 runs in his previous 12 2/3 innings.
"It was also an opportunity," Servais said. "I said to Mel, `Let’s find out where Dan Altavilla is.’"
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Stottlemyre had been working with Altavilla to correct a delivery flaw. After opening the season with five scoreless appearances, Altavilla slipped into the habit of sweeping his glove arm on his delivery instead of keeping it tucked in.
The result was a lack of command and effectiveness. Triple-A Tacoma pitching coach Lance Painter spotted the problem after Altavilla was demoted briefly to the minors.
Monday was indeed an opportunity for Altavilla to show he was back on track.
He struck out Reynolds, a .313 hitter with 13 homers and 44 RBIs.
"It just felt great," Altavilla said. "We’ve spent a lot of time in the bullpen working on the slider and (keeping) that front side (closed). It’s nice to see it pay off."
***Tuesday’s pitching matchup offers a pair of lefties: Ariel Miranda (4-2 with a 4.22 ERA) and Colorado’s Tyler Anderson (3-4 and 5.40). The game starts at 4:10 p.m. Pacific time and can be seen on Root Sports Northwest.
***Miranda is 3-0 in his last six starts and allowed two or fewer runs in five of them. Anderson is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in his last four starts.
***Chooch Ruiz is 3-for-10 in his career against Anderson, while Jean Segura is 2-for-5 with a walk. They are the only active Mariners who have faced Anderson.
***Ian Desmond is 1-for-3 in his career against Miranda, while Ryan Hanigan is hitless in two at-bats. They are the only active Rockies who have faced Miranda.
***Colorado center fielder Charlie Blackmon leads the majors with 46 RBIs, which is the highest total for any leadoff hitter since at least 1913.
***Designated hitter Nelson Cruz leads the American League with 42 RBIs. It will be interesting to see whether he makes a second straight start Tuesday in right field.
***Rockies closer Greg Holland leads the majors with 19 saves. Nobody else has more than 14. Ex-Mariners closer Fernando Rodney, now with Arizona, ranks second among NL pitchers with 13.
***Center fielder Jarrod Dyson continues to lead all AL players in defensive WAR (wins above replacement) at plus-1.2. Outfielder Guillermo Heredia is fifth among AL players at plus-0.9.
***Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado leads all MLB players defensive WAR at plus-1.5. He also leads the National League with 17 doubles.
***Dyson also leads the AL with 14 stolen bases and is tied with Angels catcher Martin Maldonado for getting hit by the most pitches with eight.
***Jean Segura has been caught stealing six times, tops among AL players.
It was 28 years ago Tuesday — May 30, 1989 — that Randy Johnson made his Mariners debut by limiting New York to two runs and six hits in six innings in a 3-2 victory at Yankee Stadium.
Ken Griffey Jr. hit two homers and drive in all three runs. Tom Niedenfuer and Mike Schooler closed out the victory by combining for three scoreless innings.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners