Mariners 3, Angels 2
(Seattle, WA) There was light at the end of the tunnel for the Seattle Mariners as they took the field for their 13th game in 13th day. As the M’s get set for a run at the playoffs, day offs will be few and far between as the Mariners have just two off days through the remainder of the regular season. Wednesday afternoon was also the final meeting of the season between Seattle and the Los Angeles Angels as the teams met in the rubber game of the three-game series. Some questionable decisions were made by the Angels manager Phil Nevin and the Mariners made those decisions hurt LA as the M’s managed to take the finale 3-2.
For the first time in this series, it would be the Angels scoring the first run of the game. Heading into the top of the 3rd with no runs on the board, it would be an unlikely long ball that broke the drought. Brett Phillips came to the plate with the bases empty and one out. Facing an AL Cy Young contender in Luis Castillo, it wasn’t exactly the likeliest of opportunities for the Angels to go deep. But that’s what is so beautiful about baseball. Phillips dropped his barrel on a fastball on the inner third and sent it out over the right field wall. It was just the second home run of the year for Phillips and it put the Angels out in front 1-0.
A bullpen day is not exactly easy for the opposing team as their lineup has to adjust to multiple different pitchers throughout the day. With an injury riddled rotation, Los Angeles had no choice but to throw reliver after reliever at the M’s on Wednesday. José Marte would be the second reliever out of the bullpen for the Halos and Seattle would finally find some offense of their own. A one-out single for Josh Rojas put some speed on-base for the top of the Mariner order. J.P. Crawford hit a grounder to Nolan Schanuel at first for what looked like an inning ending double play. Fortunately for the Mariners, the Angel first baseman sailed the throw to second into left field. The error put Rojas at second and Crawford at first with just one out with Julio Rodriguez coming to the plate. J-Rod would hit a screaming line drive 105-mph off the bat that just didn’t get high enough to leave the yard. A double off the top of the wall in left was Julio’s 34th double of the season and gave him his 99th RBI as Rojas scored to tie the game 1-1. With runners still on second and third, Marte settled down. He got Cal Raleigh to hit a weak fly ball to shallow right that wasn’t deep enough to score Crawford and got Teoscar Hernandez to pop out to Schanuel at first to escape more damage as the M’s had to settle for just a tied game.
Los Angeles would take the lead almost immediately back in the top of the 4th. Luis Castillo did not have his best command even though his stuff was still very good. An infield single for Zach Neto began the inning as Brandon Drury stepped to the plate. On the eighth pitch of the AB, Drury was able to pull a grounder down the left field line for a base hit. The ball took a soft bounce off the jutting wall down the line which redirected Dominic Canzone. That soft bounce allowed the speedy Neto to score from first on Drury’s 25th double of the year as the Angels were back in front at 2-1. Luis Castillo was able to dance out of danger to escape the rest of the inning without allowing another run.
Questionable decisions were made in the bottom of the 5th. Ty France led off the inning and was shockingly hit by a pitch for an MLB high 31st time this season. Dylan Moore and J.P. Crawford would both strikeout to bring Julio Rodriguez to the plate. Phil Nevin came out of the dugout to not only make a pitching change, but he also intentionally walked Julio. That intentional walk put the tying run in scoring position. That decision turned into t a mistake quickly. Nevin also flipped Cal Raleigh to his power side as righty Jimmy Herget pitched to the now left handed Raleigh. Cal pulled one into right field for a base hit. Rojas scored from second as Julio reached third with the game tied at 2-2. Teoscar Hernandez would follow with a rocket that went in and out of the glove of the second baseman Brandon Drury and kicked away from him. That made it a Mariner season-high 28 game on-base streak for Teo with the RBI single, scoring Julio and giving the Mariners their first lead at 3-2.
La Piedra got stronger in the final innings of his outing. In his final inning in the top of the 6th, Castillo allowed a walk and that was it. La Piedra struck out the side with a fastball heavy approach. Castillo added another quality outing to his incredible 2023 resume as he tries to make a late push for the Cy Young. He would go six innings of three hit, two run ball with three walks and eight strikeouts. That put Castillo at 199 strikeouts on the year and one away from his second career 200+ strikeout season with still a few starts left.
Seattle did not record a hit in the final three innings which meant is was all on the bullpen to protect the one-run lead. First up was Justin Topa in the top of the 7th and it was not a clean start. A single by Jordyn Adams and walk for Brett Phillips put runners on first and second with nobody out. Topa would strikeout Kyren Paris for the first out after the rookie failed to get down a bunt. Topa then timed a pickoff move perfectly as Adams broke for third. Seattle would tag out Adams as Phillips moved to second but with two outs. A ground ball from Nolan Schanuel to Crawford would end the inning as Topa protected the lead through some trouble.
Next up was Matt Brash in the top of the 8th. A strikeout of Zach Neto began the inning for the first out but it would not be a spotless inning for Brash. He would lose an eight pitch battle to Brandon Drury by walking him to put the tying run on. Brash bounced back with a strikeout of a dangerous batter in Logan O’Hoppe for a big second out. Eduardo Escobar then came up with a soft two strike base hit to left to put the tying run on second with two down for Matt Thaiss. With a 2-2 count, Brash challenged Thaiss with a 100-mph heater at the top of the zone and blew away the Angel DH for the final out of the inning as Seattle maintained the 3-2 lead.
Finally, it would be Andrés Muñoz for the top of the 9th as he looked for his 13th save of the season. With some nasty shadows over home plate, Muñoz had the upper hand in the 9th. He took advantage with a strikeout of Austyn Adams for the first out before Brett Phillips put more pressure on the Mariners a base hit into right put very good speed on base for the Halos with one out. Randal Grichuk would enter the game as a pinch hitter for Kyren Paris, but it would not matter to Muñoz. He blew away Grichuk with a 102-mph fastball for another strikeout, putting the Angels down to their final out. An 0-1 pitch was called a strike on Nolan Schanuel but Phillips tried to steal his way into scoring position. A strong throw from Cal Raleigh and a great tag by J.P. Crawford would nullify Schanuel’s AB as Phillips was called out at second. The Angels would challenge the play but the call was confirmed as the final out of the game as the M’s wrapped up a series win by the final score of 3-2.
With the win, the Mariners (81-65) guarantee themselves at least a .500 record with 16 games left. Texas beat Toronto which puts the M’s a full game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays for the final Wild Card and just half of a game behind Texas for the second Wild Card. Houston would beat Oakland, but the Astros dropped two of three to the A’s which keeps the Mariners just 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the AL West lead. After a day off on Thursday, the Mariners will begin a very tough three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers (88-57). The Dodgers have been hit with quite a few injuries to their pitching staff and Seattle will look to take advantage of that. George Kirby (10-9, 3.48 ERA) will make the start in the opener on Friday at 7:10pm in what is one of the most important starts of his young career. Kirby made some controversial remarks about Scott Servais’ decision to have him pitch the 7th on Friday in Tampa Bay. George Kirby has since apologized and will look to put himself back in the Mariners good faith by recording his first quality start since August 12th. The offense will take on rookie Bobby Miller (9-3, 3.98 ERA) who has been wonderful for the Dodgers after being forced into the rotation. Miller is coming off back-to-back seven inning outings but can get himself in a bit of trouble with command issues. September has been a rough month for the Mariners but the Dodgers have not fared any better as they come into this series with a 5-7 record this month.
Well it could have been a sweep but we will take the series win at this point. With the day off needs to come a press of the reset button. It has been a rough couple of weeks for the M’s but all of that is in the past. We are in the home stretch with the Mariners really in control of their own destiny. A hot stretch to the end of the season, and an AL West title would have the guys in the ALDS. A two week stretch like they just had, and this team will be watching the playoffs from home. Everything needs to tighten up now. The offense can not be wasting scoring opportunities. They have to make the most of every opportunity especially since they just have three games left against a team not in the playoff race. The starting pitching has to be more consistent as well. We can’t have a slow start or a sloppy finish. We need quality outings day in and day out from all five starting pitchers. Finally, the bullpen needs to lock it down. A full day off is massive for those guys with how much work they’ve been putting in as of late. One run leads might be the norm as every game will be like a playoff game. No more free passes or command issues. It is time to focus everyone in. Playoff baseball has come early and every game matters from here on out. This playoff race is about to be wild and stressful. But I have a feeling it will all be worth it.
- Brett Phillips- 2-3, HR, RBI, R, BB
- Brandon Drury- 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB
- Andrew Wants (ND)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO
- Luis Castillo (W, 13-7)- 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO
- Julio Rodriguez- 1-3, 2B, RBI, R, BB
- Teoscar Hernandez- 1-4, RBI