Robbie Ray rebounds from his recent struggles with an outstanding performance on Friday night, but it’s ultimately in vain as Mariners offense wastes opportunities.
Following the Mariners’ unexpected but deserved series win versus the Yankees, they returned to Seattle in good spirits. However, this mood was subsequently changed on Friday night, as they lost 4-3 in extra innings to the Angels.
The main reason for the loss was due to an offense which cooled down after their impressive showing in New York. They were unable to hit with runners in scoring position for the majority of the evening.
After being held scoreless for eight innings, the bats finally came alive in the bottom of the ninth. Trailing 3-0 and down to their last out, Adam Frazier got the rally started with a double which brought Jesse Winker home.
Next up was Ty France, in his first game back in the lineup after missing time with a left wrist injury. Arguably the best hitter on the team, France proved this yet again with a single that resulted in two runs and a tied ball game.
(It seems only fair to also mention Jake Lamb, who made an impression in his first at-bat since joining his hometown team on trade deadline day. Pinch-hitting for Abraham Toro in the ninth, he singled to get on base and then scored the second of the two runs produced by France.)
Once more the Mariners had displayed their remarkable mental fortitude, to give themselves a chance in a game they had no business winning. Ultimately though, the comeback was all for nothing.
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The Angels regained the lead in the top of the tenth, courtesy of a Taylor Ward sacrifice fly that allowed Magneuris Sierra to score. This time the Mariners were unable to respond despite having Eugenio Suarez begin on second base, and they fell to the loss against their hated rivals.
Most frustrating about the loss, was the reality Seattle wasted a fantastic outing from Robbie Ray. The 2021 AL Cy Young winner had been terrible in his previous two starts — both versus the Astros — but rebounded in fine fashion on Friday night.
There was some slight concern early, when Ray gave up a run in the top of the first. However, perhaps in part motivated by the recent addition of Luis Castillo, it was lights out after this.
Living up to his $115 million contract, the 30-year-old went seven innings before leaving the game. On the night he allowed just five hits, the aforementioned one earned run and two walks, while striking out 10 (including three versus Shohei Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP).
One of the most notable things about Ray’s display, was his return to the four-seam/slider combination with served him so well last year. Speaking to the media afterwards, he said:
“It’s what got me to where I’m at right now. I think for the most part, it was just a conscious decision to roll with those, but also being aware of situations where a two-seam or something else would be a good choice for a pitch. But I feel like I was able to move my four-seam around. My two-seam was great when I threw it, but today I was just trying to get back to who I am.”
Ray also made a point of referencing the Mariners’ never-say-die attitude, even in defeat, He said:
“It says a lot about this team that we’re never out of it. Even in the ninth inning, when things aren’t looking like they’re going our way, we’re still able to scrap and keep (ourselves) in it.
Manager Scott Servais was understandably frustrated by the lack of offense, but tried — as he often does –to look for the positives. He said:
“We couldn’t really get much going (offensively). We got the pitch count up and got some traffic out there, but not much in the way of damage or knocking those guys in tonight. We have a double-header tomorrow, so I’m going to let this one go. I was really impressed with those big hits late in the game like that when you haven’t done much offensively, those guys stepped up … nothing this team does surprises me as far as the late innings stuff. We were right there at the end, but unfortunately couldn’t get it done.”
Due to other results around the Majors, the Mariners dropped to the third wild card spot in the AL. The surging Orioles also pulled to within just one loss, as they won their fourth straight and seventh in 10 games.
This all makes Saturday’s double-header that little bit more important, even with essentially a third of the season still remaining. George Kirby and Chris Flexen are scheduled to get the starts for Seattle.
In your opinion, what was the main moment on Friday night which ultimately resulted in the 4-3 loss? How many of the remaining three games do you predict the Mariners will win in this series? Let us know in the comments section below.