Mariners take Twins series with 8-7 win in rubber match

The Mariners manage to hold off a rally from the Twins, on a day when Dylan Moore was the surprising star of a high-scoring affair.

Mark this under the category of ‘rare’, i.e. the Mariners winning an exciting, one-run, high-scoring game. Especially when we’re talking about the 2023 edition of this ballclub.

Even more rare — and we hope you’re sitting down for this — the offensive hero was Dylan Moore, who has struggled mightily since his return from injury. For one game at least however, this wasn’t the case.

The main man

Moore went 3-for-4 on Wednesday afternoon, as he hit two home runs for the first time in his five-year Major League career. He also tied another career-high with four RBI, on a day when the Mariners needed every one of them.

The 30-year-old was only playing because the Mariners rested J.P. Crawford, but took full advantage of the opportunity. Talking postgame about his problems this year, he said:

“It’s challenging whether you had a whole spring training or just came off the IL. I just kind of had to find a different way to get prepared for the season. I like where I’m at now.”

Mariners manager Scott Servais was delighted for Moore. He said:

“Dylan Moore had an unbelievable game. For a guy who hasn’t played very much, you are starting to see it coming with his timing, his rhythm. I talked to him a few days ago. We’re going to give him more opportunity to get more starts. He was huge today.”

Ready from the get-go

The Mariners came out firing, with a run in each of the first three innings for an early 3-0 advantage. The trio of scores came courtesy of a Teoscar Hernandez single, Moore’s first homer and a solo blast from Julio Rodriguez respectively.

Rodriguez’s home run was part of his own three-hit game in the series finale in Minnesota. He also had a couple of doubles, as he carried over his momentum of two homers and three RBI from the night before.

July in general has been a good one for the 22-year-old, as he has finally looks more like last season’s version. He has a .295/,361/.500 slash line so far this month, to go along with a .861 OPS.

As Servais referenced with Moore, Rodriguez also credits improved timing as playing a big part in his recent improvement with the bat. He said:

“You’ve got time to do all that, to make the right adjustments, to take the pitches that you don’t want to swing at. So I feel like everything is on the timing. If you want to hit the ball out front, you’ve got to be ready for it. If you want to recognize something earlier, you’ve got to be ready for it too, so I feel like all those things are working pretty well.”

Tough day for Miller

On the subject of timing, Rodriguez and Moore picked the right game to both have productive days. This was a Twins team which would just not go away.

First, after failing behind 3-0, Minnesota hit a couple of solo bombs in the bottom of the third, to pull to within one run. Then, after a Kolten Wong single in the top of the fourth made it 4-2, they hit another home run in the bottom half of the inning to make it 4-3.

The three home runs by the Twins were emblematic of what was a challenging day for Bryce Miller. He allowed four in total, which was a career-high. However, he did join Shohei Ohtani and Michael Kopech as the only pitchers to get a win this year despite giving up four bombs.

Miller allowed eight hits on the day, tied for the second-most of his Major League career, However, he also gave up no walks, while striking out seven.

The Mariners appeared to regain control in the fifth, when Moore’s three-run homer made it 7-3 to the visitors. A Eugenio Suarez single in the top of the sixth increased the advantage to 8-3.

However, as any one who has followed the Mariners for a long time knows, they never make it easy for themselves. Miller gave up his fourth homer in the bottom of a sixth inning he just couldn’t get through, to make it 8-4.

A couple more scores made it 8-6, and Miller was finally pulled. The Twins still managed to tag on another run off reliever Matt Brash though to make it 8-7, before the inning mercifully ended.

Mariners bullpen comes through

This set up a tense and nerve-racking final three innings, with Mariners fans wondering if their team would once more mess up a winning position. Fortunately for them, their team would hold on for a 8-7 win.

This was because the rest of the bullpen blanked the Twins the remainder of the way. Gabe Speier, Justin Topa and Andres Munoz each pitched an inning, combining to allow just two hits and one walk.

Overall, Servais was both relieved and happy to win the rubber match and take the series. He said:

“Interesting game, interesting series. Obviously, the Twins are one of the hottest teams in baseball coming out of the (All-Star) break, so to get in here and win two out of three — you look at all three games, we could have won all three, we could’ve easily lost all three — and end up winning the series, you feel good about it.”

Miller was similarly relieved, but also frustrated with his performance. He said:

“They were just getting the ball in the air today and it was going out. So not an ideal game (for me). Not the ideal way to get a win, but we got one.”

With the win, the Mariners improve to 52-50 and find themselves 4.5 games back of the final wild card spot in the AL. Thursday is a much-needed day off, before beginning a three-game series in Arizona on Friday evening, versus the Diamondbacks.

Have the Mariners done enough to justify making a significant move before the trade deadline? Or do you agree with the organization’s stance that a major addition is unlikely? Let us know in the comments section below.

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