Entering Sunday’s game with the Rangers, the Mariners had lost eight straight games. After two innings, things seemed to be heading rapidly towards increasing that slide to nine. Hisashi Iwakuma struggled through innings one and two, and was fortunate t0 only surrender two runs.
After the second inning, however, the Mariners fortunes started to change.
The Mariners put two runners on base in both the fourth and fifth innings before Kendrys Morales delivered a two-run bomb in the sixth to tie the game. More importantly, Iwakuma settled down and strung together another strong start. He shut the Rangers down over the next six innings, finishing with eight strikeouts and zero walks.
Yet the Mariners still needed an extra boost from their veterans late, as they fell behind after Elvis Andrus did very Elvis Andrus-like things in the top of the 11th. Raul Ibanez delivered the first big blow on Joe Nathan’s first pitch, hitting a screamer out to right to tie the game. Jason Bay nearly delivered a second knockout punch three batters later, but David Murphy brought his home run back with an incredible leaping catch.
But Bay would not be denied. After some nifty pitching in the 12th and 13th by Yoervis Medina, a Morales double and a “sacrifice” by Carlos Truinfel, Bay gave the Mariners their first win since last Thursday, dropping the first pitch he saw into left for the walk off hit.
Three things stood out to me from this game:
- The Mariners notched a quality start. Remember, the Mariners haven’t had a quality start since Brandon Maurer last Friday in Cleveland. They don’t win many games without quality starts. Iwakuma put his early struggles behind him and delivered a win-worthy start for the M’s, who needed it desperately.
- The veterans stepped up to break the skid. The Mariners have some decent young hitters, but sometimes it takes a guy who’s been around the block a few times to put a team over the top in games like today’s. That’s exactly what Morales, Ibanez and Bay did in big spots Sunday. Young guys see that and respond with hits of their own in big spots down the road.
- The bullpen held up well. Sure, Oliver Perez/Carter Capps let a run get across in the 11th. But that happened because Elvis Andrus is a master of playing little ball. He put together a great at bat, looped a base hit down the line and scored from second on a seeing-eye single. Overall, the great work turned in by Tom Wilhelmsen, Capps, Perez and Medina (who picked up his first major league win) kept the Mariners in the game and helped them snap their losing streak.
The Mariners play the Padres tomorrow and throw Aaron Harang out there at 1:10 PT. Hopefully the momentum from today’s win will continue and the team can get their season back on track.