After losing three consecutive games to Houston, Seattle played the ol’ Uno reverse card on the Rangers, sweeping Texas for the second consecutive head-to-head series. This is big-time for the M’s, because tomorrow starts a seven-game road trip against two of the top dogs in baseball: the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
A nifty little surprise to everyone was Houston actually getting swept (announced right before M’s Sunday win) by one of baseball’s worst teams, the Oakland A’s. There is never a “good” time to face Houston and New York, but those two first-place teams have tentatively lost their momentum at the moment. The Astros got swept, and the Yanks have lost nine of their last 14 games and face the NL East-leading Mets in the second of two games that started at 4:10.
Now back to our Mariners. Injury speculation and concern was the tone of the city when phenom-rookie Julio Rodriguez had to sit out of all three games against Houston, and the first of three against Texas. In game one against the Rangers, with no Julio and no Jesse Winker (injured ankle after collision with Houston’s Jeremy Pena), Seattle had to play an outfield full of infielders. Starter Chris Flexen has been on a roll as of late, and that continued in the opener. He went six innings, surrendering only four hits and two earned in his start. All-Star Ty France went 3-3 with a solo shot off the batter’s eye. Carlos Santana (not normally known for his blistering speed) legged out a fielder’s choice in the seventh to bring in the winning run. Diego Castillo struggled to locate, but his bullpen-pal Eric Swanson was able to come in and close it out for a 4-3 victory.
Game two’s lineup was arguably the most offensively stacked that Seattle has seen in quite some time. Julio was back in the leadoff spot, and he wasted no time in his first game back after the Derby/All-Star/injury break. He put one into left field for his second leadoff home run in his rookie season. George Kirby was recalled prior to the game, and was nails. In only 51 pitches (purposely limited), he went five strong shutout innings, striking out four. Cal Raleigh continued his strong season, going 2-4 with a home run in the seventh, and a game-tying double in the ninth. Carlos Santana’s soft sacrifice fly in the ninth brought home Raleigh to walk it off. Seattle continued their winning ways in one-run games, where Texas continued to scuffle in the same circumstances.
Sunday’s 12:40 matinee featured Marco Gonzales against Jon Gray, who has been solid for Texas this season. Ty France got the day off after appearing to injure his left wrist swinging through a changeup in Tuesday night's game. Sam Haggerty (2-3, two doubles), who continues to prove himself, got the scoring going for Seattle on a double in the second. Texas got two back off of Marco, but then that guy for the Mariners stepped to the dish with two on in the seventh. Facing Gray for the fourth time in the game, Julio crushed a three-run shot off the electronic scoreboard in left field. Marco was solid, and the bullpen shut it down, helping Seattle sweep the Rangers.
The Mariners went .500 on the homestand (3-3), and now head out to Houston for four, and then the Bronx for three. Logan Gilbert will toe the rubber in game one against the 2017 World Series winners (err… cheaters). Seattle now sits at 54-45, and one game ahead of the struggling/injury-depleted Tampa Bay Rays, in the second of three AL wild card positions.