The Mariners set a franchise record with their 16th shutout in a season, while Bryan Woo impresses in his hometown during a 5-0 win.
The Mariners were facing a lot of questions, after being swept at home by the Dodgers. With a season-worst 5-11 record to start a month, they were on the outside looking in at a playoff spot.
At the risk of kicking a franchise while it’s down, a road trip to Oakland was just what the Doctor ordered. And so it proved to be, as the Mariners began their three-game series versus the Athletics with a 5-0 win.
Woo impresses at home
Bryan Woo got a lot of the headlines, with an excellent performance in the city where he was born. In one of his best outings of the season, he allowed just three hits and no earned runs in 5.0 innings.
Woo also forced 14 swings and misses on his 86 pitches, on the way to six strikeouts. About the only negative was giving up a season-high four walks, but they ultimately did not damage the team.
As part of the Oakland native’s impressive start, he twice stranded runners on third base to preserve what would eventually be a shutout win. It was the 16th time this year the Mariners shut out their opponent, setting a new franchise record.
Speaking postgame, Woo discussed the Mariners’ mindset for keeping teams off the board. He said:
“You don’t really try to go out and throw shutouts. It’s more (a case) of just continuing to do the little things right. Consistently showing up and doing our work, and making sure that we’re harping on what we need to do every single day.”
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The 23-year-old admitted he had some nerves, due to pitching his first ever Major League game in front of his hometown crowd. He said:
“Maybe a little bit to start out, but I was able to kind of do a better job of getting back to focusing on what I needed to focus on. Usually that doesn’t happen. (I) definitely wanted to enjoy the support that was there.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais liked what the saw from the young pitcher. He said:
“Once he settled in, he got the good rhythm going. He’s always at his best when he’s out there attacking, just letting it go and not trying to hit the corners so much.”
Woo has pitched well overall since joining the rotation, with a 3.90 ERA, 3.87 FIP and 1.165 WHIP in 16 starts. Including Monday night, he has allowed one or less runs in four of his past five games.
After the righty left the game, the recently criticized bullpen stepped in to preserve the shutout. Tayler Saucedo, Justin Topa, Trent Thornton and Isaiah Campbell each pitched one inning, to successfully complete the task.
Mariners bats wake up
Offensively, the bats needed a good night after going just 3-for-20 combined with runners in scoring position during the previous two games versus the Dodgers. As such, when they left the bases loaded in the opening inning against the Athletics, fans must have worried more of the same was to follow.
However, the Mariners got on the scoreboard an inning later, courtesy of a RBI single from J.P. Crawford. The shortstop had an interesting night overall at the plate, as he was also walked three times.
The Mariners seized control of the game in the top of the fourth, as a Jose Caballero two-run blast made it 3-0. It was the longest home run of his Major League career, and ended a 0-for-19 streak at the plate.
Luis Torrens hit a RBI double in the sixth, to make it 4-0. Eugenio Suárez added a RBI single in the ninth, to make it 5-0 and provide the final scoreline.
Important win draws the Mariners closer
Servais was fully appreciative of what the win meant. He said:
“A great way to start the road trip. It was exactly what we needed. … It’s critical for us, here on this road trip and for the remainder of the season. We need contributions from everybody.”
The Mariners also got ‘contributions’ from their divisional rivals, the Astros and Rangers. Both teams lost, allowing the Mariners to go level with the Rangers and pull to within 1.5 games of the Astros at the top of the AL West.
Now, it’s a case of continuing to beat an Athletics team they’ve taken 10 of 11 from so far this season. Luis Castillo will get the ball on Tuesday night, looking for his 200th strikeout of the season.
Given the upcoming schedule versus the Rangers and Astros, would it be fair to say nothing less than a series sweep in Oakland will suffice? How many wins overall is it going to take, for the Mariners to qualify for the playoffs? Let us know in the comments section below.