PHOENIX — Hey, it wasn’t a one-run victory.
Though for a while it sure seemed like the Mariners were intent on finding ways to making a comfortable lead into the most minimal of deficits for the Diamondbacks.
But Kyle Seager, the elder statesman of the team at age 33, provided a reprieve from the late-inning drama for at least a night.
In what might be his final season with the organization, Seager continues to provide reasons beyond his leadership for the Mariners to exercise his club option for next season instead of telling him goodbye.
On Saturday, he belted a pair of three-run homers to power the Mariners to an 8-5 victory against the Diamondbacks.
The Mariners (74-62) have taken the first two games of the series and will go for a sweep on Sunday afternoon with right-hander Chris Flexen getting the start. They didn’t make up any ground on the Red Sox (79-59), who beat Cleveland, 4-3. The Mariners moved into a tie with the A’s (74-62), who lost to the Blue Jays.
After saying they would only play one-run games for the rest of the season, Mariners manager Scott Servais found a semi-comfortable win more enjoyable.
“Yeah, it was,” he said with a laugh. “I will say in the eighth inning when they get two guys on and (Anthony Misiewicz) hasn’t been out there in 10 days, you never know. You’re always a little anxious.”
But Misiewicz pitched out of that one-out trouble as the bullpen provided four innings of shutout work along with Casey Sadler (sixth), Erik Swanson (seventh) and Diego Castillo (ninth).
“Our bullpen has been lights out,” Seager said. “That’s certainly been the key to our success.”
But bullpens can’t score runs. They need offense and Seager provided it.
His three-run blast off lefty Caleb Smith broke a 5-5 tie in the sixth inning, giving the bullpen the lead it needed.
With two outs and runners on first and second, Seager swung and missed at a slider down in the zone. Working the count to 3-1, he didn’t miss a slider that Smith left in the middle of the plate. Seager launched a blast into the pool in right-center where a man in a wrestling mask swam over and grabbed it.
“That was pretty cool,” Seager said. “It’s a cool idea having a swimming pool. Just sitting in a hot tub and watching the game. That seems cool.”
Seager joins Alex Rodriguez and Denard Span as the only players hit a baseball into the pool at Chase Field. Yes, these things are tracked.
It was Seager’s 33rd homer, matching his age. He turns 34 in November.
“So I should probably play till like 60 or 70?” he joked.
Well, maybe not that long, but Mariners starter Marco Gonzales had a request: “He’s pretty good. And like I’ve said in here, I hope he plays for 10 more years because he is putting on quite a show right now.”
As the oldest player on the team, he has played in 134 of the Mariners’ 136 games, posting a .214/.289/.455 slash line with 21 doubles, a triple, 33 homers and 91 RBI.
From almost his first pitch of the night, it was a battle for Gonzales to keep pitches out of the middle of the zone, keep runners off the bases and keep his team in the game. But he made it through five innings, allowing five runs and got the win to improve to 7-5.
The Mariners handed him a 3-0 lead after the top of the first inning. Facing right-handed starter Humberto Castellanos, J.P. Crawford, who went 4 for 5, led off the game with a single to center. Mitch Haniger followed with a line-drive single to right-center. And Seager? Well, he ambushed a first-pitch changeup, sending a line drive over the wall in right-center for his 32nd homer of the season.
Gonzales gave back the three runs and a bonus one in the bottom of the inning. After a one-out walk, he let a 1-2 changeup leak over the middle of the plate to Carson Kelly, who turned it into a two-run homer.
With two outs, a hit batter, a bloop double and another hit batter loaded the bases for Arizona. Former Seattle Prep standout Stuart Fairchild gave the Diamondbacks a 4-3 lead with a two-run double to left field.
“Yeah, it was tough,” Gonzales said. “We haven’t had a start like that. We’ve been on a pretty good run, being able to get some momentum early in the game. When we got punched a little bit in the first inning, I felt like just trying to get back to basics, throw strikes, get ahead of guys. And really just a big credit to the offense tonight being able to pick me up, keep us in the ballgame and put some runs on the board.”
The Mariners retook the lead in the fourth inning. After a Jarred Kelenic leadoff single and a Jose Marmolejos double to right field off Castellanos, it appeared the Mariners would squander the opportunity when Cal Raleigh and Gonzales each struck out.
With two outs and Crawford coming to the plate, Arizona went to lefty Caleb Smith. The lefty vs. lefty strategy didn’t matter as Crawford yanked a single into right field to score both runs.
Gonzales couldn’t keep the one-run lead for even a half an inning. Old friend Ketel Marte was able to take a pitch off the outside of the plate and drive it to the right-field corner, just over the wall for a game-tying solo homer.
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