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Mariners, Gallardo see positive signs in loss

Righty gives up 3 runs on 2 homers, but goes 6 1/3 innings and K's 6
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Five relievers pitched for the Mariners in their win over the Rays Saturday night. That raised the stakes Sunday afternoon for Yovani Gallardo, who could have used a deep start as much for his confidence as to protect his bullpen.

Gallardo did his part in a 3-0 loss to the Rays, pitching 6 1/3 innings and putting the team in a position to use only two relievers, all while keeping the score close. With so many starting pitchers currently on the disabled list, eating innings and setting up the offense to outscore the other team is as much as the Mariners can ask for from their patchwork rotation.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Five relievers pitched for the Mariners in their win over the Rays Saturday night. That raised the stakes Sunday afternoon for Yovani Gallardo, who could have used a deep start as much for his confidence as to protect his bullpen.

Gallardo did his part in a 3-0 loss to the Rays, pitching 6 1/3 innings and putting the team in a position to use only two relievers, all while keeping the score close. With so many starting pitchers currently on the disabled list, eating innings and setting up the offense to outscore the other team is as much as the Mariners can ask for from their patchwork rotation.

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"All of us starters, I think that's the goal," Gallardo said. "That's the goal, especially after what the guys [in the bullpen] did yesterday. They've been throwing a lot. We all know. But for us, I think we have to do a better job going deeper into ballgames, and give those guys a little break every now and then."

The Mariners have the fifth-most used bullpen in the Majors, with 425 innings pitched. They've held up well, despite the workload thus far, with a 3.94 ERA that makes them the ninth-best unit in MLB.

The duration of Gallardo's start Sunday was a welcome change from his recent outings. Since the veteran right-hander returned from a bullpen stint, he had maxed out at 5 2/3 over five starts, with a 6.75 ERA over that span.

Gallardo encountered more trouble with the Rays' first hitter, as Kevin Kiermaier led off with a home run, the third straight start in which the leadoff man had gone deep against Gallardo. But Gallardo buckled down after that, up until the last hitter he faced in the seventh inning, Adeiny Hechavarria, also homered.

Video: SEA@TB: Gallardo retires Souza Jr. swinging in 1st

"Outside of the first guy he faced and the last guy he faced, the stuff in between was really good," manager Scott Servais said.

Gallardo, of course, was slightly flabbergasted by the recurring leadoff home runs, shaking his head about it when talking with closer Edwin Diaz after the game.

"I mean, they're not bad pitches," Gallardo said. "The one today, I fell behind 2-0 to Kiermaier and tried to go away, and [he] just stayed with it and went up the middle. And the other one in Baltimore, too, it was just fastball away, [Tim Beckham] drives it to right-center."

Still, as Servais said, the pitching the rest of the afternoon was impressive. Gallardo worked his way around a leadoff triple in the third inning and eventually struck out six batters, while holding the Rays to five hits. There are reasons for encouragement, despite the two home runs.

"You know what, not much I can do about that," Gallardo said. "The only thing is start making quality pitches from the first pitch of the game. Make it even better, go out there, throw curveball, slider, something offspeed. We'll see. We'll go from there.

"But I think today is way better than last time and something to build off of."

Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg who covered the Mariners on Sunday.

Seattle Mariners, Yovani Gallardo