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Mariners edged by Astros in battle of bullpens

After Leake scratched, Detwiler gets first MLB action since 2016
August 21, 2018

SEATTLE -- About three hours before his scheduled first pitch for Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday night, Ross Detwiler learned he was needed by the Mariners. So the lefty called an Uber for the 35-mile drive up Interstate-5 -- through rush-hour traffic -- in time to come out of the bullpen

SEATTLE -- About three hours before his scheduled first pitch for Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday night, Ross Detwiler learned he was needed by the Mariners. So the lefty called an Uber for the 35-mile drive up Interstate-5 -- through rush-hour traffic -- in time to come out of the bullpen as an emergency long reliever after scheduled starter Mike Leake came down with an illness.
The 32-year-old southpaw wound up taking the loss in Seattle's 3-2 setback to the Astros, but threw six innings with three runs allowed in his first Major League action since 2016.
The loss snapped the Mariners' string of five straight wins over Houston and dropped them 4 1/2 games back of the A's and Astros in the American League West at 72-55, but it was an impressive effort for a guy who began the year pitching for the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League until signing a Minor League deal with the Mariners on June 2.
Detwiler said it helped to be a little rushed and not have much time to dwell on his return to the Majors, but he knew what it meant to make the climb from independent ball back to the bigs.
"I just got a text from the scout [Northeast area scout Ross Vecchio] who signed me from Seattle," he said. "It's awesome for him and for the guys who are still down there. It's a hard road, but still a road you can take. All the hard work has paid off this season, through indy ball and Triple-A, it's been a lot of fun. It's been a long road, but it's fun that it's finally paying off."
Since Detwiler was scrambling to get to Seattle, reliever Nick Vincent made the emergency start for the Mariners. In his first career start after 335 relief appearances in seven seasons in the Majors, Vincent allowed one hit with one walk over two innings before turning the scoreless game over to Detwiler.

"I came up here thinking I was going to start and then they told me I wasn't," Detwiler said. "But anytime you can put on a big league uniform ... "
The nine-year veteran -- a first-round Draft pick of the Nationals in 2007 -- gave up eight hits and two walks in his six frames, but helped himself immensely with five double plays to limit the damage to three runs on 76 pitches.
"Especially in the first inning I was in, walking a couple guys, there's nothing worse than that and having the defense on their heels," Detwiler said. "Then throughout the day, there seemed to be one an inning while I was out there. Some of them hard-hit balls and some were a little softer. The defense was moving around and it's fun to see them play like that."

Mariners manager Scott Servais said Leake was running a high fever and it became apparent he wasn't going to be able to go at about 3:30 p.m., which is when the call went down to Tacoma manager Pat Listach. Servais credited the veteran Detwiler with a "unbelievable job" in the unusual circumstance.
"He handled it great," Servais said. "Certainly he's been in the big leagues before and been in that environment. He threw strikes, it's fortunate we turned some really good double plays behind him and he kept us right there."
The Astros were employing a "bullpen day" of their own as Brad Peacock made his first start of the season in place of an injured Lance McCullers and lasted 1 2/3 innings with three hits and no runs.
But the Mariners' offense stayed quiet against three subsequent relievers until three singles off Roberto Osuna pushed across a run in the eighth to cut the lead to 3-2 before Osuna struck out pinch hitter Nelson Cruz and Dee Gordon to strand runners at the corners.
"With what happened this afternoon, if you had told me that we were in a 3-2 game late with guys on base and the right guys up, we'll take our chances," Servais said. "We just didn't get the big hit tonight. We got the big hit last night and weren't able to get it done tonight."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Mariners appeared to have rookie right-hander Fromber Valdez, who was making his MLB debut, on the ropes early when they loaded the bases with just one out in the third. But they wound up scoring just their lone run off Valdez when Mitch Haniger raced in from third on a passed-ball strikeout of Kyle Seager, with Ryon Healy then grounding out to end the threat.

"We had a really good opportunity there," Servais said. "We had the bases loaded, we only get the one run in. Putting a rally together off a pretty good reliever, off Osuna late [in the eighth], I thought we had a real good shot there, too. We just didn't get the big hits."
SOUND SMART
Detwiler became the first reliever to induce five double plays in a game since the Angels' Chuck Hockenbery on Aug. 8, 1975. The Mariners turned another double play in the eighth for reliever Zach Duke, giving them a franchise-record six for the game. The six double plays were also the most the Astros have ever hit into in their club's history.
HE SAID IT
"I asked him if he ever started before, he said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'In the big leagues?' He said, 'No." I say, 'Well, you're about to do that tonight.' He handled it great. You have to go out there, don't try to do anything different, which he doesn't. He stays within himself and just makes pitches. Unfortunately the last one went off his ankle or his shin and he's a little sore there, but he'll be fine." -- Servais, on Vincent's first career start
UP NEXT
Marco Gonzales (12-8, 3.91 ERA) starts Wednesday's 1:10 p.m. PT series finale against Astros right-hander Charlie Morton (12-3, 2.85). The Mariners gave Gonzales an extra three days of rest after he went 0-3 with a 7.94 ERA in his last three starts as his innings total of 142 2/3 has already exceeded last year's 126 1/3 he threw in the Major and Minor leagues.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.