It was only a matter of time before the Mariners’ injury-thinned pitching staff demanded at least some payment. And the bill came due Tuesday, maybe with a little interest, at Citizens Bank Park.
Lefty Ariel Miranda took a beating from the Philadelphia Phillies. So did reliever Jean Machi. And still — still! — the Mariners found a way to pull out an astounding 10-9 victory.
Taylor Motter’s two-out RBI double in the ninth inning against Hector Neris broke a 9-9 tie. Edwin Diaz then closed out the victory with a scoreless inning for his seventh save in nine chances.
"Very splitter-heavy guy," Motter said. "He buried the first one. He just left a splitter up, and I got the barrel to it and pulled it down the line.
"He was splitter-heavy," Motter said, "and he got one up.""
This was amazing stuff.
The Mariners’ cleanup hitter, Nelson Cruz, was limited to pinch-hitting because of a sore left hamstring. Their No. 3 hitter, Robinson Cano, left the game in the fourth inning because of strained right quadriceps muscle.
Yet, somehow, the Mariners erased two four-deficits. They trailed 4-0 after one inning before rallying to a 5-4 lead. And they trailed 9-5 after four innings before pulling even.
Ben Gamel led a 16-hit attack with a career-high four hits and a career-high four RBIs while also providing the game’s top defensive play.
That came after Daniel Nava started the Philadelphia eighth with a leadoff pinch single in against Nick Vincent. A one-out double by Aaron Altherr moved Nava to third and prompted an intentional walk to load the bases.
Maikel Franco then lofted a fly to short right that Gamel turned into an inning-ending double play by throwing out Nava at the plate.
"I had a lot of momentum because I was playing pretty deep," Gamel said. "I had some time to get behind it. I just tried to collect myself.
"I was pretty shallow (after making the catch). I knew if I made a good throw, I had a pretty good chance to get him out."
Jean Segura started the winning rally with a one-out single against Neris. Segura went to second on Gamel’s grounder to first before scoring when Motter pulled a double past third base into the left-field corner.
Vincent (1-0) got the victory. Neris (1-2) was the loser.
"A great win," manager Scott Servais said. "It really was. You can’t say enough about our guys. Your cleanup hitter is not in there for most of the night. The second baseman has to come out of the game.
"And our young guys just continued to grind. It took us a while, but we got the pitching straightened out at the end of the game. Awesome win. Our guys did not quit at any point in that game."
Cano’s injury is not believed to be serious, although he is unlikely to play Wednesday afternoon in the series finale.
The Phillies battered Miranda for four runs in the first inning. Particularly egregious was a grooved a first-pitch fastball to ex-Mariner Michael Saunders with one run in, two outs and a runner at second.
Saunders drove it 376 feet to the very-reachable seats above the right-field scoreboard for a two-run homer and a 3-0 lead. Tommy Joseph then teed off on a full-count fastball for a 384-foot drive to left for another homer.
"(Miranda) came out of the chute early just throwing a lot of fastballs," Servais said. "He’s got to mix all of his pitches. We’ve seen him not have the secondary pitches early in the game, but he didn’t go to them much.
"He’s got to get them off the heater."
The Mariners got two runs back in the third inning when Gamel punched a two-out single into center, and Cano followed with a 379-foot drive into the right-field seats for his seventh homer.
Gamel hit a three-run homer in the fourth against Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff that gave the Mariners a brief 5-4 lead.
Miranda responded by starting the bottom of the inning with a walk to Joseph, who scored on Freddy Galvis’ double past third. Cameron Rupp’s single put runners on first and third with no outs.
Ty Kelly’s sacrifice fly to left gave the Phillies a 6-5 lead and, when Cesar Hernandez lined a single to center, the Mariners replaced Miranda with Machi — and, boy, that didn’t work.
Aaron Altherr pulled a 1-2 changeup into the left-field seats for a three-run homer and a 9-5 lead.
The Mariners countered with three runs in the sixth against Al Leiter Jr. and Joely Rodriguez. Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz, in a pinch-hitting role, delivered RBI singles.
Gamel’s fourth hit, an RBI double, pulled the Mariners even at 9-9 in the seventh inning against Rodriguez, although Gamel ran the Mariners out of the inning by trying to advance to third on a grounder to short.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Gamel already had four hits and four RBIs when he kept the game tied in the eighth inning by throwing out Daniel Nava at the plate for an inning-ending double play.
PLUS: Segura went 3-for-6 and has a streak of six straight games with multiple hits. His average is up to .376…Gamel went 4-for-5 and raised his average to .362…Cano, Seager and Guillermo Heredia also each had two hits…Cano has six homers and 17 RBIs over his last 20 games…the Mariners’ final four relievers — Dan Altavilla, James Pazos, Vincent and Diaz — each pitched one scoreless inning.
MINUS: Jarrod Dyson was hitless in three at-bats, which dropped his average to .208…Danny Valencia was hitless in four at-bats, although he walked twice…Machi threw just 16 of 32 pitches for strikes. He faced nine hitters and allowed three hits and two walks.
STAT PACK: Before Tuesday, the Mariners had won only one game in their 41-year history by overcoming two deficits of four or more runs. That was June 12, 1997 in a 12-11 victory over Colorado at the Kingdome.
The Mariners trailed 6-0 and 10-6 before rallying to win.
QUOTABLE: Asked whether it was the best game of his major-league career, Gamel responded: "Probably at any level to be completely honest with you. I got some good pitches to hit. I took some close ones.
"I felt comfortable. I was putting myself in good positions to hit, and I took some good swings."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners