Considering how the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader was lost, with a bullpen failure taken to a new and more painful level, the idea of the Mariners showing up stagnant for the second of two seven-inning games and getting swept wasn’t without expectation.
When you blow a four-run lead in the final inning, giving up seven runs, including a three-run, walk-off homer, there has to be some carry over of the defeat, particularly when the first pitch of that next game took place roughly 30 minutes after the Padres were done celebrating their crazy comeback victory.
But in a testament to short memories, the Mariners salvaged a split of the doubleheader that was made necessary when they opted not to play Wednesday night’s game vs. Padres as a form of protest.
Jose Marmolejos, who was added to the roster as the 29th player for the doubleheader in the morning, crushed a grand slam off Padres starter Garrett Richards to highlight a six-run first inning that propelled the Mariners to an 8-3 win in the nightcap.
“Heck of a response from our team,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said in a postgame video conference. “Really proud of the way we responded right out of the chute. Let’s go get it. That one’s over, we move on, stay in the moment and move on into the second game and that’s what we did.”
Depending on the health of Evan White’s shoulder, Marmolejos could be headed back to the taxi squad after a day in which he also turned a key bases-loaded double play to end the sixth inning and rescue the Mariners’ bullpen from further misery. He also hit a two-run homer in the first game of the doubleheader.
“I wasn’t thinking about a grand slam, just solid contact,” Marmolejos said in a postgame video call.
But once he made solid contact, he knew it was going over the fence.
“Definitely, as soon as I hit it,” he said. “Sometimes as soon as you hit it, you know that feeling. I’m grateful for it.”
Marmolejos found out this morning that he was being added to the active roster. The plan was for him to start at designated hitter in the second game, but when White’s shoulder became an issue after one at-bat in the first game, Marmolejos was inserted into the game, hitting a homer off Dinelson Lamet in his first at-bat.
“He really picked us up today,” Servais said.
It allowed Yusei Kikuchi to get his first win of the season, working five innings and allowing three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and no walks.
Game 1: Padres 10, Mariners 7
In a season of abysmal outings, bad showings, blown leads and lost games, this was easily the worst performance for the Mariners’ much-maligned bullpen … for now.
Given a four-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh — the final inning of the opener a doubleheader with two seven-inning games — the Mariners’ de facto closer Taylor Williams and hard-throwing setup reliever Dan Altavilla combined for an epic implosion that led to the Padres scoring seven runs, all with two outs, in a 10-7 loss.
“You have to nail it down at the end, and we just weren’t able to execute,” Servais said. “It was a crazy inning. A lot of the positive stuff we did offensively gets swept under the rug because we weren’t able to close them out.”
Williams, who leads the team with six saves and hadn’t allowed a run in his last seven outings, started the bottom of the seventh thanks to a four-run outburst from his teammates in the top of the inning. He retired the first two batters he faced but couldn’t get the third out. His command was shaky to start.
Williams hit Austin Hedges with a pitch, walked Trent Grisham and walked Fernando Tatis Jr. to load the bases.
A brief visit from pitching coach Pete Woodworth meant to calm down Williams and get him to refocus yielded no results. He gutted a first-pitch fastball to Manny Machado, who turned it into a two-run single to trim the lead to 7-5. A misunderstanding on signs from catcher Austin Nola to Williams led to a passed ball to move the runners up to second and third. Williams bounced a slider to the backstop to score Tatis, making it a one-run game. Eric Hosmer ended Williams’ outing with a game-tying RBI single.
Altavilla entered to try to at least send the game into extra innings and give the Mariners another chance. Instead, he allowed a single and hung a slider that resulted in Wil Myers’ three-run walk-off homer.
It wasn’t the first time the bullpen gave away a lead in the game.
Matt Magill tried to make the Mariners’ bullpen the blame in the bottom of the sixth inning when he gave up almost 900 feet of solo home runs to San Diego’s dynamic duo of Tatis and Machado, turning a 3-1 lead into a 3-3 tie.
The Mariners offense gave Magill and the bullpen a half-inning reprieve, scoring four runs in the top of the seventh inning
A miscommunication on Dee Gordon’s drag bunt attempt put the leadoff runner on base. J.P. Crawford was hit by a pitch. Both runners moved up a base on an error. Sam Haggerty gave the Mariners the lead with an RBI single to right field. Kyle Lewis and Kyle Seager followed with RBI singles and Austin Nola added a sac fly to center.
With scheduled starter Taijuan Walker traded to the Blue Jays about two hours before first pitch, the Mariners scrambled and inserted rookie right-hander Ljay Newsome into Walker’s spot. A starter for most of his minor-league career, Newsome was recently called up to pitch out of the bullpen, throwing three innings against the Dodgers in his MLB debut a week ago.
With a limited pitch count, Newsome delivered a solid spot start, pitching four innings and allowing one run on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
“He did a great job for us; he really did,” Servais said. “Give him a ton of credit. He is who he is. He makes pitches. He keeps throwing strikes. He stays after them. I was really, really happy with the effort he gave us today. He’ll continue to learn. That’s his first start ever in the big leagues against a really good team.”
Lamet came into the game with a 1.89 ERA in six starts this season with 45 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings pitched. But the Mariners got three runs off him, including two from an unexpected contributor.
Marmolejos entered the game in the fourth inning after White was forced out of the game with shoulder pain. Marmolejos crushed a two-run homer off Lamet. Shed Long Jr. later added an RBI single in the inning.
Servais said White tweaked the shoulder while diving for a ball on Tuesday and he tried to play through it on Thursday. But a fly ball in his first at-bat caused some discomfort.
Editor’s note: The Times declined to send reporter Ryan Divish to San Diego for this game because of COVID-19 safety concerns.