Offense continues recent improvement, with Julio Rodriguez, Eugenio Suarez and Tom Murphy all contributing in important victory for Mariners.
Fair or not, there’s a lot of frustration within the Mariners fanbase about how the front office handled the trade deadline. The overriding sentiment was that Jerry Dipoto and company should have been more aggressive.
In defense of Dipoto, he had already admitted he didn’t think the team had performed well enough, for him to go ‘all-in’. However, he may well have inadvertently lit a fire under the roster.
In one respect Dipoto’s comments were right, with the Mariners sitting around .500 most of the season and lacking consistency. However, this didn’t stop the players from being unhappy, with Cal Raleigh saying post-trade deadline:
“It’s unfortunate to see (Paul Sewald) go … but it’s out of our control. We can look at it two ways – we can kind of pack it in, or we can keep going and trying to make this thing real and kind of prove them wrong.”
Best form of the season
The latter seems to be the case, with Wednesday afternoon’s 6-3 victory versus the Red Sox making it four series wins in a row. It also sees the Mariners return to a season-high four games above .500, at 56-52.
In fact, the Mariners have won seven of their past nine series, and tied another one versus the Twins in that period. Additionally, during July they were tied with the Orioles for the most wins in the Majors, at 16.
When presented with all this information, it makes even more sense why Raleigh is frustrated by the front office’s apparent lack of faith in the team. (In the spirit of objectively though, Raleigh had previously said at the end of June that the Mariners were not a good baseball team.)
However, if the players can use the perceived slight to their advantage, then more power to them. In addition — for what it’s worth — at least one of the Mariners’ acquisitions is showing encouraging promise early on.
More specifically, Trent Thornton looked good in his first action out of the bullpen for the Mariners. He pitched 2.1 innings on Monday night, allowing just one hit and striking out three in the process.
On the subject of encouraging, it would have been so easy for the Mariners to give up on Wednesday afternoon. They were trailing 3-0 after five, but responded with six runs in the next couple of innings, to snatch the win away from the Red Sox.
Gilbert does what it takes
Logan Gilbert wasn’t at his sharpest on the day, highlighted by giving up a trio of walks and the aforementioned three runs. However, he did go 6.0 innings, giving up just five overall hits and striking out the same number of batters.
Gilbert is renowned for his fierce competitiveness. And his bulldog spirit was on full display in the top of the fifth.
The 26-year-old found himself in a precarious situation with runners on the corners and nobody out. However, he navigated the situation by only allowing the one run which made it 3-0 to the Red Sox.
Mariners manager Scott Servais discussed the crucial sequence of events postgame with the media. He said:
“We’ve talked a lot with our young pitchers about game awareness. (Gilbert) understands the game is on the line there. (Matasaka) Yoshida gets the infield hit to tack on a run, but the game could have got away from us there, (so) credit to him. I thought that’s probably the best pitches he made all day, as far as his focus and locating and executing, and (it) helped us win the game.”
Despite his challenges, Gilbert was just thankful he was able to help the bullpen out by lasting six innings. He said:
“Just trying to go that last little bit. Honestly, I felt better probably the last couple of innings. I don’t know if it was getting synced up, or whatever. But I just know I had a job to do, and when you’re at that point in the game, you’ve just got to find a way to get through.”
As per the aforementioned bullpen, they did a tremendous job to keep the Red Sox from adding more runs. Matt Brash, Gabe Speier, Justin Topa and Andres Munoz combined to pitch three scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and no walks in the process.
Raleigh starts the rally
Of course, none of this would have mattered if the offense hadn’t finally woken up. Somewhat poetically, it was Raleigh who got the comeback rolling, with a two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth which pulled the Mariners to within 3-2.
This was nothing compared to an eventful seventh inning however, which started with pinch-hitter Cade Marlowe making contact for a RBI single to tie the game at 3-3. As Servais said:
“Huge pinch-hit by Cade Marlowe. Cade has been very impressive here. He just doesn’t get going too fast, but his ability to slow it down, he swings at the right pitches.”
In this respect, Marlowe has looked good since making his debt last month in place of the injured Jarred Kelenic. So far he’s hitting .308 in 26 at-bats, resulting in a .996 OPS.
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J-Rod takes over
Next up, it was the turn of the Mariners’ budding superstar Julio Rodriguez. His subsequent RBI single broke the tie and gave the home side their first lead of the game, at 4-3.
A Eugenio Suarez RBI for the eight consecutive game then extended the lead to 5-3. This is the longest active streak in the Majors, and one short of Edgar Martinez’s club record.
The icing on the cake came, when Rodriguez scored from third as part of a double steal with Suarez. Red Sox catcher Connor Wong tried to throw Suarez out at second base, allowing Rodriguez to race home and make it 6-3.
Rodriguez’s stolen base was his 25th of the season and 50th of his Major League career. (He also has a career-high 27-game on-base streak, which is the longest active streak in the Majors.)
Servais was of course delighted with the outcome. He said:
“The first-and-third play, it’s something that we’ve talked about here recently. The combination was right, we executed it (and) picked up a big run in the game. And a credit to our guys. They’re paying attention, they’re getting the signs, they’re looking for opportunities.”
Feel-good factor for Mariners
With the win, the Mariners pulled to within one game of the Red Sox and 3.5 back of the third wild card spot in the AL. There’s still a lot to do, but at least they have a chance, which is all you can ask for.
Servais is renowned for always trying to be positive, even when things look bleak, but now this optimism is justified. As he said:
“This team is gaining momentum. They believe in themselves, no matter what the score is or where we’re at in the game, and that’s what it takes this time of year. You’ve just got to keep believing, believing, believing something good will happen. And oftentimes it does.”
Similarly, Gilbert can feel the change in the vibe, with a renewed hope. He said:
“It just feels great around the clubhouse. It seems like everybody’s clicking. And I think the main thing (is), we’re never really out of the game. When one person gets going, it seems like everybody gets going.”
Next up, the Mariners travel to Los Angeles for another crucial series, with a four-game set versus the Angels. And it doesn’t get much tougher than facing Shohei Ohtani on Thursday night, with Bryan Woo taking the mound for Seattle.
Worthy of note, Tom Murphy had three singles on the day, to improve his hitting streak to six games. He’s batting .455 in this span and is .300 on the season, with a .917 OPS in 42 games.
Gilbert discussed what Murphy means to the team. He said:
“Just the effect he has on this team, I don’t know if you can really put it into words. It’s more than just three hits today, even though that’s great. But he’s just kind of that leader behind the plate, takes hold of the pitching staff. There’s a lot that goes into that job, and he kind of does everything.”
Has the recent winning run given you confidence the Mariners will ultimately qualify for the playoffs for a second straight year. Or will their lack of consistency earlier in the season prove to be their undoing? Let us know in the comments section below.