Mariners 5, Athletics 4
(Seattle, WA) You can’t ever pencil in wins against any professional sports team regardless of the discrepancies in talent or success to that point in the season. However, when you are battling for a division title, a team should be able to win games against the worst team in baseball. The Seattle Mariners were looking to take a series against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday afternoon in the rubber game of the three-game series. With the M’s still a big banged up with Julio Rodriguez out of the lineup for a second straight day, other veterans stepped up in a big way for the M’s as they ended up trading shots with the A’s. One letter would reign supreme and that would be the M’s delivering the final blow to take the final game of the series 5-4.
After needing just ten pitches to get through the top of the 1st, Bryce Miller ran into some real trouble in the top of the 2nd. A second leadoff single in as many innings started the top half of the inning as Jordan Diaz reached with the base hit. Following a strikeout of Carlos Perez, Miller challenged fellow rookie Lawrence Butler with a heater middle in. Butler would accept the challenge and made Miller regret the pitch choice. A 431-foot bomb got the scoring started as Butler trotted around the bases with his second home run of his rookie campaign that started post-All-Star break. With Oakland leading 2-0, they let their speed take over. A two-out single for Esteury Ruiz led to all sorts of chaos on base. Ruiz swiped his 52nd base of the season and advanced to third as Cal Raleigh’s throw sailed into center field. Ryan Noda then cashed in on the two-out RBI opportunity with a bullet to right center for his 18th double of the season. All of a sudden the Mariners found themselves in a quick 3-0 hole.
Quick striking offense seems to be the story surrounding the 2023 Mariners. It was on full display in the bottom of the 3rd. After Zach Neal struck out both Josh Rojas and J.P. Crawford, a two-out rally formed for the M’s. Eugenio Suarez drew a walk on six pitches to bring Cal Raleigh to the plate. The Mariner catcher yanked a line drive into the right field corner for extra bases. Suarez got the stop sign at third as Raleigh reached second with his 21st double of the season. That brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Teoscar Hernandez. While it hasn’t been a dream first season with the Mariners for Teo, he has found a recent power surge that has inched him closer to the team lead in homers. This at bat drew him even closer. Hernandez got a changeup that hung at the top of the zone and sent a screamer into the A’s bullpen that had relievers ducking for cover. The three-run blast was Teo’s 23rd of the season and changed the entire game as the score was tied at 3-3.
Double plays helped both Miller and Neal get out of some trouble as neither allowed another run for the rest of their outings. With the game still tied, Seattle turned to their bullpen a little bit later than Oakland as Justin Topa came in to pitch the top of the 7th. Topa had been one of the most consistent relievers for the Mariners, but did not have his best stuff on this day. After he made a great play to take an infield hit away from Lawrence Butler to begin the inning, Topa gave up a double to Aledmys Diaz to put the go-ahead run in scoring position for Oakland. Nick Allen ran for Diaz but it didn’t really matter in the end. Esteury Ruiz snuck a grounder just inside of the third base bag and into the left field corner. Allen scored easily on the 22nd double of the year for Ruiz and the A’s were back in front 4-3. Ruiz then made it 53 stolen bases as he took third with still just one out. A fly ball to right field from Ryan Noda was not deep enough to score Ruiz easily. Teoscar Hernandez made the catch and came up throwing. A picture perfect throw home from Teo looked like it was not good enough as Ruiz was called safe. Scott Servais challenged immediately and upon further review, Raleigh got the tag on Ruiz clearly before he touched home and the call was overturned, taking the run off the board. Teo was the hero again as he kept it just a one run deficit.
Oakland manager Mark Kotsay brought in lefty reliever Kirby Snead to face a couple of lefties for the Mariners. First up was Dominic Canzone and the rookie jumped all over a first pitch slider, lining it to the wall in right field. Canzone reached second with his ninth double of the year to put the tying run in scoring position with nobody out. Another lefty in Mike Ford stepped to the plate next and had one of his softer hits of the season. A broken bat blooper was just out of the reach of shortstop Nick Allen and dropped in for a single. Canzone was only able to make it to third as he had to make sure the ball wasn’t caught. The birthday boy Jose Caballero ran for Ford and moved up to second on a Dylan Moore four pitch walk to load the bases with nobody out. Oakland kept Snead on the mound and he would get an easy out as Josh Rojas watched three straight strikes go by for the first out. J.P. Crawford however was not interested in watching pitches go by. Crawford slapped a soft line drive on the first pitch he saw into left field for a base hit. Canzone and Caballero scored as Crawford was fired up at first base with his two-run single putting the Mariners ahead 5-4. They would not be able to add on another run in the inning after Dylan Moore was thrown out at the plate, but the one-run lead was good enough.
A walk and a wild pitch was all Oakland could get off of Matt Brash in the 8th which meant it would be up to Andrés Muñoz to try to lock down the series win. Shea Langeliers was up first and he couldn’t reach as he grounded out to J.P. Crawford for the first out. Muñoz then blew a 3-2 fastball right by Lawrence Butler for a strikeout and out number two. Last up was Nick Allen and despite him fouling off an 0-2 heater, he couldn’t do much with a slider as he skied it to left where Dominic Canzone made the catch. Seattle made it five consecutive series victories as they ended the homestand with a hard fought 5-4 win.
Following a six game homestand, the Seattle Mariners (76-57) will now hit the road for their next ten games beginning on Friday. When they take the field on Friday, the Mariners will still be tied for the AL West lead with the Houston Astros but not the Texas Rangers as they lost on Wednesday in heartbreaking fashion. The team that Texas lost to is next up for the Mariners as the New York Mets (61-73) will host the M’s for three games. The opener on Friday will be Logan Gilbert (12-5, 3.66 ERA) day as the tall righty looks to make it 10 Mariner wins in his last 11 starts. Gilbert was the benefactor of the 15 run and seven home run performance from the Mariners last weekend but he really didn’t need it. Logan went seven innings and allowed just one run on two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in a fantastic performance that got lost in the shuffle of the historic offensive performance. For the Mets, it will be the 30-year-old rookie Kodai Senga (10-7, 3.17 ERA) getting the ball in game one. Since coming over from Japan in the offseason, Senga has been very good for a disappointing Mets team. Senga has only allowed more than four runs once this season and has registered four consecutive quality starts. The game will be exclusively on Apple TV+ on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 4:10pm.
Tuesday was just a brutal day. It was just one thing after another and if J.P. Crawford hadn’t stayed in the game after a little ankle issue, I might have had a breakdown and I don’t think I would have been the only one. It really felt like the Mariners just didn’t have a chance in that game and while it wasn’t a great performance, it was a gusty one. To flush it and once again battle in the finale to come out on top shows the character of this team. Missing two All-Stars this series in Julio Rodriguez and George Kirby was not great news but it is better to get them both to 100% before the schedule ramps up. The easy stretch is over and the M’s took advantage of it. A record of 10-3 against the Royals, White Sox, and Athletics (with a sweep of the Astros mixed in) is a very strong stretch. Now they will get tested on this road trip. First up is a team that is lost after having the highest payroll in MLB history and things not working out at all. What the Mets do have is a bunch of young and hungry players looking to prove themselves and plenty of talent to give the Mariners trouble. This series won’t be easy, but it’ll be a nice warm up before the M’s take on two playoff contenders for a tough stretch. Buckle up folks, meaningful September baseball is here and the Mariners are going to make us sweat out every second because that is Mariner baseball.
- Lawrence Butler- 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R
- Esteury Ruiz- 2-3, 2B, RBI, R, BB, 2 SB
- Zach Neal (ND)- 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO
- Teoscar Hernandez- 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, R, Threw Out Runner at Home
- J.P. Crawford- 1-4, 2 RBI, SB
- Bryce Miller (ND)- 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO