The Mariners struggle to put away the Athletics but win 3-2, largely due to back-to-back home runs from J.P. Crawford and Ty France.
A four-game series versus the Athletics was just what the Mariners needed, to try and get back to winning ways. Playing the worst team in the Majors would surely come with few issues.
This is the Mariners however, who have never made things easy for themselves. In this respect, Tuesday night’s game was much closer than anticipated.
Marco Gonzales got the start, looking to bounce back from a nightmare outing versus the Red Sox. In one of the worst performances of his Major League career, he had given up eight hits and eight runs in just 1.2 innings.
Early problems for Gonzales
Things didn’t look promising early on, as Gonzales gave up two runs in the top of the first for an early deficit. Fortunately for everyone concerned, he soon recovered to deliver a quality start.
The southpaw settled down and did not allow any more runs in six innings of action. He gave up just five hits and a walk in total, while striking out four batters.
Gonzales’ 5.68 ERA and 1.52 WHIP on the season are admittedly a bit pedestrian. However, he improved to 4-1 on the season, with the Mariners going 6-3 in his nine starts.
Gonzales spoke about his mindset following his poor outing in Boston. Speaking to the media, he said:
“I just felt like in Boston that I didn’t give myself a chance to really execute. They just kind of jumped on me right away. So it didn’t really take away from how good I’ve been feeling and how my stuff has been playing. I just tried to reinstate confidence in myself this past week. … I’ve been feeling too good this year to not have that confidence.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais was happy with what he saw from Gonzales versus the Athletics. He said:
“I didn’t think they hit the ball that hard against him, but obviously he gave up a couple there in the first inning and then he settled in. Then you look up and he gives you a quality start, which is exactly what we needed.”
Gonzales’ quality start represented the 26th for the Mariners as a whole this season, tied for most in the Majors. Of course this only matters so much, if the offense doesn’t produce.
Mariners bats do just enough
In this respect, for four innings Seattle’s erratic bats seemed to be having an off-night, managing just one hit. They finally woke up in the fifth inning, to score the only three runs they would need to prevail 3-2.
Tom Murphy got things going with a two-out double, which brought J.P. Crawford to the plate. He subsequently responded with just his second home run of the season, to tie the game at 2-2.
Crawford is having a fine year on offense, with his OBP and OPS in particular projecting to career-bests over a season. Speaking about how he is hitting the ball, he said:
“Everything’s natural, I feel like. It’s a cool feeling just to be able to flick some balls and not to really panic in the box.”
The shortstop also spoke about his home run hit specifically. He said:
“I knew it had a chance. I was just trying to square something up and not get out of my plan and damage the pitch. I’m putting my body in a good spot to where I could just fire.”
Next up was Ty France, who made it back-to-back home runs and a 3-2 lead for the Mariners. His fierce 420-foot blast actually smashed a light on the out-of-town scoreboard.
Unlucky hit for France
France has had his struggles this season, but has turned things around recently. As such, he was extremely unlucky to get hit on his left wrist by a pitch in the eighth inning.
Servais gave an update on France’s status after the game. He said:
“It’s not fractured. Obviously it’s a contusion right there in the left wrist where he got smoked by the fastball from (Trevor) May. He’s going to be sore. He’s really day-to-day. I probably wouldn’t expect him to be able to go tomorrow. Maybe the next door. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Despite Servais’ comments, it is still possible France could need to spend some time on the injured list. He has appeared in all 48 games so far this season, starting 46 of them.
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Aside from the fifth inning, Seattle struggled to put much together offensively, being limited to five hits and two walks in total. Fortunately for them, the bullpen stepped up after Gonzales departed, combining to not even allow a hit or walk in three innings.
Servais talked about the Mariners actually coming through in a close game, something of a lost art for them so far this season. He said:
“Just enough tonight. It’s been a while since we’ve been on the top end of a one-run win. It’s a nice win. We’re used to playing in a lot of those games, but this year a lot of those haven’t gone our way.”
With the win, Seattle yet again return to .500. They will aim to clinch the four-game series on Wednesday evening, with the impressive Bryce Miller taking the mound.
As much as a 24-24 record is underwhelming, the Mariners were 20-28 at the same stage last season. Does this encourage you when it comes to competing for the playoffs, or do you predict they are destined to be a .500 team in 2023? Let us know in the comments section below.