It remains to be seen whether the Mariners’ roller-coaster ride Wednesday to an 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels sparks a turnaround or merely puts a pause their disappointing season.
It had the makings of another depressing defeat when they saw a 4-0 lead turn into a 6-4 deficit before they scored four two-out runs in the eighth inning on a two-run double by Jarrod Dyson and a two-run single by Jean Segura.
Then came some tense two-out moments in the ninth when Eddie Diaz served up a homer to Kole Calhoun and hit Mike Trout with a pitch before striking out Albert Pujols. In the end, though, it was a much-needed victory.
Three takeaways from Wednesday’s victory:
***Heredia’s web gem: Much of the talk regarding outfielder Guillermo Heredia this spring and into this season is his development at the plate. Not that he showed it Wednesday in striking out three times in an 0-for-4 performance.
But what initially attracted the Mariners to Heredia after he defected from Cuba was his defensive skill — and he put that on display in the sixth inning by taking a three-run homer away from Andrelton Simmons with a leaping catch at the wall.
"I just decided to go get it," Heredia said, "and at the end I just came up with it."
The catch nearly got lost in the carnage of the Angels’ six-run inning.
***Why go to Pagan?: It turned into a disaster when manager Scott Servais chose to bring in Emilio Pagan for his big-league debut when the Angels started battering Hisashi Iwakuma in the sixth inning.
Pagan gave up hits to three of four batters. The exception was Simmons, who was robbed of a three-run homer by Heredia. It was a exceedingly tough spot for a rookie in his big-league debut. So what was Servais thinking?
Here’s the answer: Once Iwakuma failed to make it through the sixth inning, the Mariners were in a tough spot. They wanted to stay away from James Pazos and Tony Zych because they threw 30-plus pitches in Tuesday’s loss.
Servais wanted to avoid exposing lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski to a series of right-handed hitters. Servais also wanted to line up Nick Vincent, Jean Machi and Diaz for the final three innings with Rzepczynski available in a matchup role.
That left a choice between Pagan and lefty Dillon Overton, a lefty starter who is serving as the bullpen’s long reliever.
Servais could have used Vincent or Machi to replace Iwakuma and saved Pagan for a lower-leverage situation, but the Angels were heading into the bottom of their lineup. Pagan wasn’t going to have to face Calhoun, Trout or Pujols.
Another factor: If Pagan stumbled in the sixth, the Mariners could still summon Vincent and also still had four innings to counter. Since that’s exactly what happened, Servais could joke later that everything went as planned.
***Cruz still ailing, but still raking: Designated hitter Nelson Cruz insists his ailing left hamstring is getting better, but he sure didn’t look that way while running the bases.
Cruz went 3-for-4 with three singles but two of those singles should have been easy doubles if he could move at anything approaching his normal speed.
The flip side is, bad hamstring or not, Cruz was 3-for-4, which raised his average to .327. He has a 12-game hitting streak in which he is batting .465 (20-for-43) with five homers and 17 RBIs.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners