Though the Mariners squandered multiple leads, including a four-run advantage early, and dropped Saturday’s 9-8 contest against the Rangers, the turnaround of the offense through the first two games of this series has been promising.
Kyle Lewis nearly scored the game-tying run on the final play after center fielder Adolis García bobbled a line drive from J.P. Crawford, but García gathered himself in time to hurl a 91.7 mph one-hopper to catcher Jonah Heim that nabbed the reigning American League Rookie of the Year by mere inches. Lewis was surging all the way from first base on the play after hitting a single that followed a leadoff walk by Mitch Haniger.
“Just pure excitement,” first baseman Evan White said. “To be able to tie the ballgame up right there … the center fielder made a heck of a throw and Jonah made a heck of a tag at home. Definitely a tough way to end a game, but we fought to the very end.”
Though the Mariners tipped their caps to García’s efforts, Lewis would’ve represented the go-ahead score and not the game-tying if not for a critical mental mistake by catcher Luis Torrens the inning prior.
With runners on second and third base, Torrens fielded a throw from Crawford on a grounder to the shortstop and stepped on home plate rather than applying a tag, thinking the sequence was a forceout. Making it more tough to swallow was that the runner from third, Charlie Culberson, was a good 10 feet from home plate when Torrens caught the relay.
“We haven’t had very many mental mistakes all year where guys forget how many outs there are or the game situation -- things like that,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “And it should never happen, quite frankly, at the Major League level. But it does once in a while. A lot of action in that game, a lot of baserunners. Really no excuses for it, and he feels terrible about it, but we’ve got to move forward.”
But back to the positives.
Seattle strung together 11 hits, including a welcomed home run from White and a business-as-usual solo shot from Kyle Seager, who now has gone deep 17 times in 82 career games in Arlington between the old and new parks. Dylan Moore also had two hits for just the second time this season on the heels of hitting a big homer in Friday’s 5-4 win.
These were all welcome signs three days after being no-hit by Orioles ace John Means.
“It’s definitely been good,” White said. “We continue to put the work in, day in and day out, and to finally see some results as a ballclub was really nice. We fought to the end tonight and had a chance to tie the ballgame up, and I think it's a testament to how we work every day.”
White’s homer was backed by much emotion -- and relief. He was without a hit dating back to April 24, one day before his grandfather passed away. He wound up going on the bereavement list for four games to be with his family back in Ohio and was 0-for-11 with five strikeouts and zero walks since returning. He rounded the bases in a brisk 21.50 seconds.
“I haven’t been on base in such a long time, I forgot what it was like to touch the base, so I want to touch them as quick as possible,” White said.
However, the Mariners' usual lock-down bullpen proved to be susceptible after being leaned on for 21 of the 24 outs. That taxing workload was due to an early exit from bulk-innings pitcher Ljay Newsome, who followed opener Erik Swanson. Newsome, who gave up three runs and faced just six batters, left with right elbow inflammation, putting Seattle’s thin starting-pitching depth in further jeopardy.
Newsome was filling in for Nick Margevicius, who took the rotation spot of James Paxton after Big Maple suffered a season-ending forearm injury. No. 1 starter Marco Gonzales is also on the 10-day injured list.
Will Vest and Anthony Misiewicz, who have been two of the Mariners’ three best leverage relievers, along with Kendall Graveman, both scuffled for the first time in the same game, giving up a combined six hits and five runs (four earned).
“You're trying to manage the piece as best we can, trying to put guys in positions to have success,” Servais said. “But when things like that happen early in the ballgame, you’re going to maybe put some guys in spots that they typically aren't in or haven't been in or you ask a little bit more from them. And our guys’ effort have been outstanding all year long. Nobody has backed away, and we won't.”