OAKLAND, Calif. — The late-inning stress and anxiety of yet another low-scoring game loomed for the Mariners. In the unusual and uncomfortable heat that hit the Bay Area on the summer solstice, turning the basically empty concrete crypt, which has returned to be being called the Oakland Coliseum, into a stifling sauna, an uneasy, edgy feeling of failures with runners in scoring positions and stranded base runners ruining Marco Gonzales outstanding start prevailed.
Would the pattern endured in the Mariners’ previous 12 losses — scoring three runs or fewer in all of them — prevail again?
Not this time.
With a nod to successful Seattle teams of the past, this team that’s still trying to find its path to meeting expectations, followed on an old and often-unused mantra: “Two outs, so what?”
The Mariners scored five runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, highlighted by back-to-back-to-back homers from Julio Rodriguez, Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to roll to an easy 8-2 victory over the Oakland A’s.
Dating back to last season, the Mariners are 9-1 at the coliseum, including winning their last seven in a row.
“We finally lined it up: we pitched and we got some big hits,” manager Scott Servais said. “We needed one of those games.”
The Mariners needed a win of any kind after losing four of five against the Angels at home, including their last three.
That seventh inning started off with what seemed like failure. Taylor Trammell and Cal Raleigh worked back-to-back walks off lefty Kirby Snead to start the inning. But after not executing a sac bunt, J.P. Crawford hit a comebacker to Snead that he turned into a 1-6-3 double play.
“I thought we had makings of a big inning there when we get first and second nobody out with a couple of walks,” Servais said. “Then we were unable to execute a bunt and then we hit into double play.”
Would it be another wasted opportunity lamented when/if they lost the lead later in the game?
That was the homestand, this was a new road trip.
Right-hander Austin Pruitt was brought in to replace Snead and face the right-handed hitting Ty France, the Mariners best clutch hitter. France did what he’s done so often with runners on base this season — simplify and do whatever it takes to get them in. He punched a single up the middle to score Trammell from third.
“It was nice to you know, finally put a good swing on a ball and do what I do — barrel it back up the middle,” France said. “I feel like the last couple of weeks we’ve been pressing a little bit to get those runs it. It was a big night for us. Baseball was fun again.”
Then the explosion of power came.
Rodriguez ambushed a first-pitch curveball that hung in the middle of the plate, sending a missile into the left field stands for a two-run homer that measured 445 feet. It also included a solid bat flip and point to the dugout.
“I think I got jammed a little bit,” he joked. “Honestly, I just feel like it’s really hard to hit and whenever you get one like that, I feel like all you’ve got to do is just enjoy it.”
Winker followed with one of his hardest hit balls of the season, sending a towering blast to deep right-center on an 0-1 fastball. HIs drive measured 439 feet. The Mariners were still celebrating the back-to-back homers in the dugout when Suarez followed with a line drive over the wall in center that measured 411 feet.
Seattle hit 1,295 feet of homers in four pitches from Pruitt.
The last time the Mariners hit back-to-back-to-back homers was Aug. 27, 2004 at then Safeco Field against the Royals. Miguel Olivo, Jose Lopez and Hiram Bocachica blasted homers in the fifth inning off Zack Greinke.
“It feels good,” Servais said. “It has been a struggle. You know it’s one game. But tonight is a good start and hopefully we can build on that.”
Gonzales continued the Mariners run of strong starting pitching performances.
For the first six innings, Gonzales offered an old-school clinic in pitching strategy and execution while facing an A’s lineup with nine right-handed hitters. He worked ahead in counts, used his changeup to keep hitters off balance and put them into uncomfortable swings on his fastballs. He didn’t allow a run during that stretch, working around base runners and generating 11 ground balls.
“I just kind of used the same plan, just attack them and use all five pitches in every part of the zone and just stay ahead in the count,” he said.
But after the lengthy top of the seventh that resulted in the extra run support, Gonzales ran into some trouble in the bottom of the inning. He gave up a one-out single and then with two outs misplaced a 1-1 changeup to No. 8 hitter Nick Allen, who was recalled from Class AAA Las Vegas, before the game. Allen put it over the wall in left field for his first big leaguer homer.
With the lead down to 6-2, Gonzales allowed a double to Christian Pache that got Andres Munoz up and throwing ion the Mariners bullpen. But Gonzales was able to finish the seventh when J.P. Crawford snagged the line drive off the bat of Chad Pinder.
Gonzales’ final line: seven innings pitched, two runs allowed on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
Erik Swanson worked a scoreless eighth inning and Ken Giles, pitching for the first time since September of 2020, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.