Long on overtaxed pitching, Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais was asked how long a leash recently-acquired, off-the-scrap-heap starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc would have in his team debut Friday night.
Plenty of it, Servais said, if he pitched well.
Well, LeBlanc certainly did that.
The beleaguered bullpen did not.
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This time, it didn’t blow up in the Mariners’ faces. Adam Lind crushed a 1-1 pitch off St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal for a game-winning, three-run home run in the ninth inning as Seattle rallied for a 4-3 victory in front of 35,746 on Friday at Safeco Field.
The win snapped Seattle’s losing streak at six games.
Kyle Seager led off the ninth with a double off the left-field wall, and Dae-Ho Lee walked, setting up Lind’s walkoff home run.
And he hit Rosenthal’s 88mph change-up deep into the night, and stood at home plate to admire it before rounding the bases.
Setup reliever Joaquin Benoit walked in the game-tying run with one out in the eighth. And Matt Holliday’s ground ball went under the glove of Seager at third base for an error that led to the other two runs and gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead.
Lee had given the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning on an RBI groundout to Johnny Peralta at third base, scoring Seth Smith.
LeBlanc, who was acquired in a trade Wednesday with Toronto, certainly gave the Mariners more than they could have hoped for in his debut with the team — some 634 days after his last appearance in the major leagues.
With his seventh different organization, the 31-year-old journeyman breezed through the Cardinals lineup for six scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out three in his 87-pitch effort.
The last time he left a game after six or more scoreless innings was in 2010 when he went seven innings in a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia while a member of the San Diego Padres.
The only time LeBlanc was in real trouble was in the fifth inning.
Brandon Moss hit a one-out bloop double down the left-field line. But LeBlanc retired Yadier Molina and Jedd Gyorko on groundouts to end the inning.
It’s been a long road back for LeBlanc to the major leagues.
His last start was at the end of the 2014 season with the Los Angeles Angels — where Servais knew LeBlanc from.
He spent last season in Japan with the Seibu Lions, going 2-5 with a 4.23 earned-run average.
The Louisiana native signed with Toronto as a free agent in December, and was leading the International League in ERA (1.71) with Triple-A Buffalo before this week’s trade.
His best season in the majors was 2010 when he went 8-12 with a 4.25 ERA pitching for the Padres.
LeBlanc arrived at Safeco Field just after 2:30 p.m. Friday, and wasted no time meeting teammates and staff members before going out and pitching a gem.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Adam Lind hit a three-run home run off Trevor Rosenthal with no outs in the ninth inning to give the Mariners a come-from-behind 4-3 victory.
PLUS: Recently-acquired Wade LeBlanc gave the M’s exactly what they needed — six zero-filled innings — in his pitching debut with the club.
MINUS: M’s set-up reliever Joaquin Benoit walked the first batter he faced in the eighth (Yadier Molina), hit the next one (Greg Garcia) and eventually allowed the game-tying run on a bases-loaded walk to Aledmys Diaz.
STAT PACK: So much for the career numbers — LeBlanc had a 5.40 ERA against St. Louis, and a 14.73 ERA at Safeco Field before Friday night. … It was the second time this month that Benoit allowed three runs in an appearance. He did it June 9 at home against Cleveland.
SHORT HOPS: St. Louis’ only other trip to Safeco Field was 2002. Since then, every other major league team has visited the Mariners at home. … Donn Roach made his major-league debut, taking over for Benoit in the eighth inning. He got the final five outs for Seattle. … Rehabbing M’s starter Wade Miley (shoulder) struck out seven of the 10 batters he faced in four scoreless innings with Everett on Friday. … Former Seattle Seahawks safety Jordan Babineaux threw out the first pitch Friday wearing a wine-colored crown.