Usually during the grinding marathon that is the 162-game Major League Baseball season, a team or a player can erase the frustration of a poor performance the next day.
With a game almost every day, it represents the opportunity for a reset or redemption from all that has gone wrong in the days and games prior.
But thanks to the required day off for teams traveling through two time zones, the Mariners didn’t get a chance to atone for their forgettable performance on Wednesday when they were held hitless by Baltimore’s John Means.
But after 14 games in 14 days, an off-day, even if some of it was spent stewing on being no-hit, was still beneficial for an offense that produced a .185/.266/.349 slash line with 53 runs, 82 hits and 133 strikeouts over that span.
With a slight tweak to their usual batting order, the Mariners, at least for one game, found the offense that was missing for that two-week stretch, banging out 10 hits, which is definitely more than no hits, in a 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers, Friday evening at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.
It was just the fourth time this season that Seattle reached double figures in hits. The Mariners now are 18-15 on the season and 15-5 when scoring four runs or more in games.
With Ty France in a slump and the No. 5 spot in the batting order giving Seattle less production than most team’s No. 8 spot, manager Scott Servais decided to move him out of his usual No. 2 place in the order. France swapped spots with normal cleanup hitter Kyle Lewis moving to the No. 2 spot. Servais also moved J.P. Crawford, who has spent most of the season batting in the No. 9 spot or near it, to the No. 5 spot.
Lewis put together a three-hit night, France snapped an 0-for-24 stretch with a key double and Crawford had his best game of the season, tallying three hits, including his first homer of the season — a big two-run blast — and scoring three runs.
Obviously, the lineup change wasn’t the only reason for the renewed run production, the Mariners benefited from facing a pitcher — right-hander Mike Foltynewicz — who came into the game with opponents posting a .271/.317/.558 slash line against him while giving up a MLB-high nine homers in 33 1/3 innings.
Foltynewicz likes to challenge hitters with his fastball and the Mariners were ready for them. They tacked on two more homers to his total for the four runs scored off him.
“We’re hunting everyone’s fastballs,” Servais said. “We need to get better at it. When we are going well, we are on the fastball. You’ve got to hit the fastball in this league.”
So Servais is going to stay with that adjusted batting order, right?
“We’ll see,” Servais said with a chuckle. “It worked out tonight. Sometimes it’s just a different look, you know you’re hitting behind a different guy and you get a little bit different feel and it worked out. It’s a credit to our guys. They really came out and hung in there all night.”
After Mariners starter Chris Flexen gave up two runs in the first inning, the Mariners answered in the top of the second. Crawford looped a single into center to start the inning and watched Dylan Moore hit a deep homer to left-center that tied the game at 2-2. It was Moore’s third homer of the season.
In the fourth inning with the Mariners trailing 4-2, Crawford tied the game with his two-run homer just inside the foul pole in right field.
Crawford struggled in spring training and early in the season, where he seemingly only reached base on walks and weak singles. But he’s slowly finding a swing and approach.
“To JP’s credit, he’s made a lot of adjustments,” Servais said. “His hands are in a little bit different spot, he’s focused on trying to stay through ball, stay inside balls and go the other way. I think he’s even gone a little bit smaller bat. It’s just little things you have to do throughout the year based on how you’re feeling. That’s what pros do and what we’re seeing it.”
The Mariners took the lead for good in the seventh with a bit of luck. Taylor Trammell’s two-out blooper to left field bounced just inside the line for a hustle double. Mitch Haniger followed with a single up the middle for the game-winning RBI.
After a sluggish start to his outing when he gave up four runs on seven hits in his first three innings, Flexen worked the next 3 1/3 innings scoreless, holding Texas to just three hits — all singles.
“I’ve got to give a ton of credit to Chris Flexen tonight,” Servais said. “It didn’t start out that great for him early in the ballgame. They were kind of on everything and I give him and (catcher) Tom Murphy a ton of credit for hanging in there, making some adjustments and then he’s able to run off some really nice innings to settle the game down.
Flexen’s final line was 6 1/3 innings, four runs allowed on 10 hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
“I definitely early on struggled with executing,” he said. “I was able to find a way to get it done toward the back end of the game. I had to grind through that one. I got some big defensive plays. And when I got punched, our offense punched right back and our bullpen did one hell of a job, slamming the door there.”