Blink and he’s gone. Mariners commercial highlights Mallex Smith’s speed
Five seems to be the magic number for the Seattle Mariners this season.
When their offense — which these days is a melting pot of players earmarked for the future, veterans who might not be too long for the club, and minor leaguers filling in for injured starters — manages five or more runs in a game, the Mariners have a relatively impressive winning record at 37-15.
The days the offense produces fewer than five runs, well, that’s where most of the losses in this already lost season come from. Seattle has won just four of those games with a telling 47 losses.
Monday night at T-Mobile Park, against a Texas team that has pummeled them several times this season, the Mariners ended up on the right side of their magic number, securing their second win since the All-Star break. Austin Nola’s three-run homer to left in the second proved the decisive hit, and Seattle added some insurance later on its way to a 7-3 win.
“It was nice to see,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We put up 10 runs the first game of the homestand, and didn’t do a whole lot the last couple days, so nice for guys to get going.
“Huge home run by Austin Nola when we’re down early in the ballgame to get us right back in the lead. Other good at-bats after that. Mallex (Smith) got a big two-run single. J.P. (Crawford) swung the bat better tonight. Nice to see (Kyle) Seager get one. It’s been a struggle for him of late. Nice job offensively.”
It was just the Mariners’ fourth win in 11 meetings with Texas this season, and fourth win overall in the month of July. But, as Seattle trudges through another season that surely won’t end in the playoffs, any win that comes with multiple runs scored, stable pitching and an error-free defensive effort is a positive step.
After laboring through the first two innings, and burning 47 pitches in the process, Marco Gonzales regrouped to turn in one of his more productive outings of the season, and push his win total 11.
“He got sharper as the game went on,” Servais said. “I don’t think he was real sharp early on, that why I was a little worried in the second inning. The game could get away from us there. Kind of vintage Marco. He finds a way to battle through it and make pitches.”
For a moment, it seemed the Rangers might get an opening to hang double digits on the Mariners for the fifth time this season.
Elvis Andrus knocked a two-out, ground-rule double to right in the first. Then, moments after a fan in a Texas jersey snatched a foul ball that would have been the third out in the first inning away from Seager, Hunter Pence used his second chance to drive in a run.
And, in the second, Gonzales quickly worked himself into a bases-loaded jam with no outs. Roughned Odor and Asdrubel Cabrera each singled, and Delino DeShields beat out a bunt single, setting the Rangers up to break the game open early. But, it didn’t quite happen.
“For whatever reason these guys always get after me early, so if I could limit some damage in there, and be able to just continue making pitches and not panic, those are great innings to get through and build confidence going deeper in the game,” Gonzales said.
He struck out a pair of batters — though Shin-Soo Choo sandwiched an RBI single in between that made it 2-0 — and got Andrus to line out to right after a 12-pitch at-bat to end the threat with minimal damage.
“He’s such a polished hitter, a veteran, he knows what he’s looking for, and he’s just kind of in between speeds, fouling stuff off,” Gonzales said of Andrus, who fouled off seven pitches with two strikes before he was finally retired.
“To come out on top of that one, (it’s a) big relief to get an out. He was just getting the bat on everything. I was just trying to make stuff up. I didn’t know what he was doing, I don’t know if he knew what I was doing, but it was a good battle.”
Gonzales allowed just one hit over his final five innings, worked through the seventh on 111 total pitches, and at one point retired 13 consecutive batters.
“At that point after that inning, I’m just trying to salvage as many as I can get, and get as deep as I can get and keep us close,” Gonzales said.
He allowed just the two runs on seven hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out four.
“He was able to shut it off right there (after the second inning) and give us a chance, and then after that he got on a nice roll to get deep in the ballgame, which is really what we needed,” Servais said.
Texas’ only other run of the game came on an Odor solo homer off reliever Cory Gearrin in the ninth. Gearrin put two more runners on base in the final inning, and was pulled with two outs, but Roenis Elias needed just two pitches to end the game and record his 12th save. Anthony Bass worked a scoreless eighth for the Mariners.
Seattle’s offense grabbed the lead for good in the second. Omar Narvaez singled and Tim Beckham walked before Nola drilled a line-drive homer to left to make it 3-2. It was his third home run of the season.
“Right now I’m just trying to focus on getting a good pitch to swing at,” Nola said. “I worked on all the mechanics in the spring, and right now it just comes down to competing, and swinging at a good pitch, and trying to do my job.”
“Where he’s at just coming to the big leagues for the first time, I think he’s handled it really well,” Servais said. “He’s done a nice job defensively. Offensively he knows the strike zone. He puts the bat on the ball and he doesn’t have huge power, but he’s got enough, and we’ve seen that. He’s hit a few big home runs for us, and none bigger than tonight.”
More tack-on runs came later. Beckham doubled to lead off the fourth, Seager walked and Dee Gordon singled to load the bases. Smith came through with a one-out single that drove in a pair of runs. Nola was hit by a pitch to reach in the sixth, and eventually scratched across another run on a J.P. Crawford single.
And Seager, who has struggled at the plate since returning from a long stay on the injured list to begin the season, broke out with a solo homer — his seventh of the season — in the eighth to make it 7-2.
Mariners second baseman Dee Gordon left after the second inning with quad tightness he has been dealing with the past two games. He had a single before Dylan Moore replaced him in the third. Servais said he is day-to-day.