Escaping the jams: Bullpen thwarts comeback

Rzepczynski's performance stands out after struggles

July 30th, 2017

SEATTLE -- It came with some twists and turns, but the Mariners' bullpen dug in its heels and prevented the Mets from mounting a comeback in Seattle's 3-2 victory at Safeco Field on Saturday.

And the biggest storyline out of all the commotion was the bounceback performance from left-hander , who has stumbled recently.

Relievers occasionally experience bad outings, but Rzepczynski's woes entering Saturday extended beyond just a few crooked numbers here and there. The Mariners' primary left-on-left option out of the bullpen allowed left-handed hitters to hit .533 with a .917 slugging percentage and zero strikeouts in 13 batters faced in July.

He even relinquished his first home run to a lefty since May 2016 -- given up to current teammate -- when Mets outfielder took one deep to right field on Friday.

Saturday, he showed signs of progress. He entered the game after Tony Zych gave up a single to , and started his outing by walking Conforto, leaving two runners on and no outs. But he eased his way out of it, inducing a double play and striking out lefty , his first strikeout to a lefty since he struck out Minnesota's Max Kepler on June 5.

"It's been a long couple of months," Rzepczynski said. "Today, being able to pitch a full inning and work on some stuff was a big confidence boost moving forward."

Zych was in the opposite situation of Rzepczynski, as he's been sharp in July but struggled on Saturday. He inherited a pair of baserunners from Mariners' starter and floundered with his first two batters. He walked and by throwing one strike in nine pitches to allow the Mets on the scoreboard before recording the inning's final out with a fly out from .

"I was trying to go away there to the first guy, and I kept running it off," Zych said. "That put them in take mode, and I was just trying to make pitches. It's just one of those days."

Zych's been employed with traffic on the base paths frequently this season, and he's been especially effective in that role recently, having not allowed a run in his last eight appearances when he's inherited runners.

One shaky outing doesn't take away from Zych's dominance in July, entering Saturday with a 0.87 ERA in the month.

Not to be outdone is the sustainable dominance from Mariners reliever Nick Vincent, his 1-2-3 eighth inning was his 26th consecutive scoreless appearance at Safeco Field this season. He broke the club's record for most consecutive scoreless outings, set by George Sherrill in 2007, on Friday with a perfect seventh frame.

"I'm just making better pitches here than I am on the road," Vincent said. "That's what it comes down to."