Kyle Seager hits three RBI doubles and the Mariners manage a victory over the Rangers despite some struggles.
ARLINGTON, Texas — If this was Christian Bergman’s last start in the Mariners’ rotation, he’s at least given the organization some confidence that he can be called on again if needed and fill in more than capably.
Bergman made one last case to remain in the rotation in Seattle’s 7-3 victory over the Rangers on Sunday.
His final line — 52/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits with two walks and a strikeout — wasn’t stellar. But given what the Mariners have been getting from their starting pitchers on the seven-game trip, including his previous clunker in Minnesota, it was an outing they will take.
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“Really good job by Bergman,” manager Scott Servais said. “We needed somebody to go out and give us innings and keep us in the ballgame and he did a really good job.”
Seattle improved to 34-37, snapping a three-game losing streak. The Mariners return to Safeco Field to open a nine-game homestand Monday.
With Felix Hernandez slated to return to the rotation and start Friday night and Hisashi Iwakuma expected to start on either Saturday or Sunday, two pitchers will have to be removed from the rotation.
Given that both Bergman and Sam Gaviglio have minor-league options remaining, they seem to be the logical candidates to be sent to Class AAA Tacoma.
“We’ll wait and see,” Servais said. “We’ve got guys coming back. We’ll talk about it when we get back to Seattle. He’s done a great job for us. I know there’s a couple of games where he stubbed his toe and they put big numbers up on him. But for the most part, he’s been very consistent.”
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Bergman is 4-4 with a 5.44 ERA in nine starts and one extended relief appearance since being called up. But if you remove the two awful outings against the Nationals (four innings, 10 runs allowed) and Twins (22/3 innings, nine runs allowed), he’s allowed just nine runs in 392/3 innings in his other outings for a 2.04 ERA.
“You’d have to ask them,” Bergman said of his future. “There’s been some bumps in the road, but it’s a long season.”
Bergman signed as a minor-league free agent in the offseason, wanting to be able to remain a starter after working in switching roles often in the Rockies organization.
“I wanted the opportunity to start and that’s the opportunity I’ve been given here and I’m doing the best I can with it,” he said.
Barring an injury, the only way Bergman or Gaviglio would likely remain in the rotation is if the Mariners decided to designate veteran Yovani Gallardo for assignment. Gallardo’s $11 million salary (the Orioles are paying for $3 million of it) is a reason they might not be quick to drop him despite a 3-7 record and 6.30 ERA in 14 starts.
But it’s also a matter of depth and maintaining some semblance of it. Given the recent injury history and age of Hernandez and Iwakuma, and James Paxton’s issues in the past, the Mariners aren’t in a position to be dropping experienced pitchers from their organization. While Gallardo will ultimately be designated for assignment if he doesn’t improve, it would be difficult to see the Mariners making that move in June with Drew Smyly still conservatively a month away from returning.
Relying more on his curveball and changeup instead of his sinking fastball, Bergman navigated through Texas’ lineup, avoiding the big inning that has plagued Mariners starters on this road trip, including his blowup outing in Minnesota.
“They’re a very aggressive team,” he said. “If you look at their numbers, they don’t hit off-speed as well, so we had to kind of adjust our game plan accordingly. It was great to get the early runs, settle in and be aggressive and attack.”
After going hitless in the first two games of the series at Globe Life Park, Kyle Seager had a game befitting his typical numbers at this stadium, ripping three RBI doubles, including two off Texas ace Yu Darvish. The three doubles in a game tied a career high.
“Fortunately they didn’t catch them today,” Seager joked. “I thought I swung it pretty good the last two days without much luck. I hit it where they weren’t. I should’ve been trying to do it the whole time.”