The Thursday off day in between the White Sox and Royals series for the Mariners couldn’t have gone better for Seattle. Houston got drubbed by 16 runs against Boston, Toronto lost to first place Baltimore, and Texas lost their sixth straight game. All of these put together leading into Friday gave the Mariners a chance to grab a share of first place in the division this late in the season for the first time since the historic 116-win season back in 2001.
After a series win ended in a bizarre finale loss against the White Sox Wednesday, Seattle returned home to start a two-team homestand against the two worst teams in all of baseball. But with that said, the series in Kansas City back in the middle of August was nothing short of simple for the surging Mariners.
And of course, it isn’t Mariners’ baseball without a little bit of chaos. That was again the case Friday night in the opening game of three against the last place Royals.
Rookie Bryce Miller got the nod to start the weekend against Brady Singer, who last time against Seattle, carried a no-hitter throughout a majority of his start.
This time around, hits weren’t the issue. Singer’s no-hitter bid on Friday didn’t even last two pitches. That’s because on the very first pitch of the ballgame, J.P. Crawford rifled a middle-middle sinker 109-MPH off the bat deep into the right field seats. The Big Dumper, Cal Raleigh, extended the M’s lead to two on an RBI single that plated Julio Rodriguez.
But, like we have seen before, these Royals can still pack-a-punch, despite their horrific record. In the top of the second, KC bounced back on top with three runs of their own off of Miller. A Nelson Velazquez RBI single was followed by a pickoff error by Miller and a Kyle Isbel opposite field RBI single.
3-2 in favor of the Royals remained the score up until bottom four. That was when the bases were loaded with Mariners for third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Geno, with two down, dropped a single into left field that scored Dominic Canzone and Crawford to help Seattle retake the lead.
Miller’s day was done after just four innings Friday night. He allowed six hits and three earned runs, while strikeout six and walking one in the process. It was a parade of M’s bullpen arms the remainder of the ballgame. Isaiah Campbell was the first out, making his 15th appearance of the young man’s rookie season.
The M’s matched their total in the fourth… in the fifth. Two more runs thanks to a heads-up Teoscar Hernandez scoring on a wild pitch and a Josh Rojas RBI base hit that plated Dom Canzone. The two new guys that Seattle received in the Paul Sewald deadline trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks have really helped this team on both sides of the ball.
With Seattle up 6-3, Manager Scott Servais turned to Matt Brash out of the ‘pen in the seventh. After giving up a leadoff single and recording the first out of the inning, the lefty Isbel dug in. With a full count, and on the ninth pitch of the at bat, Isbel turned on a down and in fastball, resulting in a two-run home run, and suddenly Seattle’s lead was just one.
It was Eugenio Suarez coming up big again for Seattle Friday in the eighth. A little insurance run for the boys thanks to his 20th double on the year that scored J.P. from first.
Andres Munoz was on save duty Friday. The inning went: single, ground out, walk, ground out, intentional walk to Bobby Witt. Oh boy, bases juiced, two down with Seattle holding onto a two-run lead. KC turned to backup catcher Freddy Fermin to pinch hit. Munoz, with a 2-2 count, featured one of his dirtiest sinkers of the season, located on the inside half, to get Fermin to strikeout swinging.
Pure emotion from Munoz, the rest of the team and the now division-hungry Seattle faithful as the win put the M’s on top of the division. More chaos to follow Saturday afternoon in game two? You can say that was the case.
Logan Gilbert was looking to continue his undefeated second half of the season Saturday up against veteran Jordan Lyles. Lyles, his last time out against Seattle on the 15th of August, gave up seven runs thanks to four Seattle home runs. It was eerily similar for the righty in game two of three.
Scoreless through the first 2.5 innings, but that certainly did not remain the case following Seattle’s eruption in the bottom of the third. Josh Rojas got it going for the M’s to lead off the inning on his third home run since joining the ballclub. J.P. followed Rojas with a 389-foot double, and then back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Teo Hernandez. You can say he got all of Lyles’ 1-1 sinker. It was Teo’s fourth career grand slam, his 20th home run of the season as T-Mobile Park exploded after the former Blue Jay and Astro gave the Mariners a 5-0 lead. Oh wait… there’s more! Dom Canzone singled and Big Mike Ford followed with his 13th bomb of the season. A three-home run, seven run bottom of the third.
Gilbert cruised right through the Royals Saturday. Seven complete, allowing just two hits and one earned run. He struck out seven in the process, but you can say his start wasn’t all that high stress.
A few more runs for Seattle as they were leading 9-1 when Julio stepped in looking to become the fastest player in franchise history to hit 50 home runs. Oh yeah, he did such that. It was his 22nd of the season that came on first-pitch, middle-middle slider that was sent deep into the KC bullpen.
The derby continued throughout the contest. Cal Raleigh (from the right side), Cade Marlowe and Teo’s second helped tie the franchise record with seven home runs in one ball game. This one was all Mariners, as the crooked final score looked something like this: SEA 15, KC 2.
Going into Sunday, Seattle was in a deadlock in first place of the American League West with the Texas Rangers who won Saturday for the first time in eight games.
Aiming for the sweep, it was Luis Castillo who faced off against righty Alec Marsh, who came into Sunday with an 0-6 record.
Remember when it was Teoscar Hernandez that was going to be dealt by the Mariners at the deadline? Well considering what he has done since that August 1st deadline, it appears to have been a good idea to keep him around. He mashed another home run in the second inning on Sunday, his third in two games. In the month he’s hitting above .350 with double digit RBIs, runs and over 30 hits.
Speaking of hot hitters, we can’t forget about soon-to-be American League Player of the Month Julio Rodriguez. He mashed his 51st career home run Sunday just a few at bats after his 50th on Saturday. With a runner aboard, J-Rod extended the lead by two with one swing of the bat, a line drive home run into the M’s bullpen. In August, Rodriguez is batting above .400 with nine doubles, six homers and 27 RBIs to go along with 11 stolen bases.
Luis Castillo was nails Sunday. Seven complete innings, surrendering just two base runners, one via a base hit and one a walk. He struck out six and held the Royals scoreless. Gabe Speier followed La Piedra’s exit in the top of the eighth. After Castillo gave up just one hit throughout his start, Speier gave up two consecutive hits, the second a home run off the bat of Nelson Velazquez to make this a 3-2 ball game. It was Justin Topa to save the day, and he did such that, getting Salvador Perez to K swinging with two runners in scoring position.
Andres Munoz was the last call to the pen to close this one out. He did none other than strikeout the side in order. Earning his tenth save of the season, Seattle marched right on through the Royals, winning the finale 3-2.
After sweeping KC, competition doesn’t increase all that much at all to close out the brief home stand. It is the basement of the AL West, the Oakland Athletics, who will pay a visit to T-Mobile Park beginning Monday night. The Mariners have not been defeated by Oakland this year, having won seven in a row.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins both lost in extra innings on Sunday. The Seattle Mariners, following Sunday’s victory, now hold sole possession of first place in the west for the first time since August of 2003.
Pitching probables for OAK @ SEA:
- Monday 8/28, 6:40 PM PT: TBA vs. RHP Bryan Woo (1-3, 4.58 ERA)
- Tuesday 8/29, 6:40 PM PT: LHP Ken Waldichuk (2-7, 6.05 ERA) vs. RHP George Kirby (10-8, 3.28 ERA)
- Wednesday 8/30, 1:10 PM PT: RHP Zach Neal (1-0, 6.88 ERA) vs. RHP Bryce Miller (8-4, 3.90 ERA)
American League West standings as of Sunday evening:
- 1.Seattle Mariners (74-56)
- 2.Texas Rangers (73-57), 1.0 GB
- 3.Houston Astros (74-58), 1.0 GB
- 4.Los Angeles Angels (63-68), 11.5 GB, 10.5 WCGB
- 5.Oakland Athletics (38-93), 4-6 in L10
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