On paper, the M’s bullpen looked to be a five-run inning waiting to happen. But three games into the season, this supposed motley crew has yet to allow a run.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The biggest question entering 2016 for the Mariners was easily the state of their bullpen.
The pieced-together crew features one pitcher that just turned 40 (Joel Peralta), another who turns 39 in July (Joaquin Benoit), a right-hander with 18 big-league appearances (Tony Zych), a left-hander that had never pitched in relief (Mike Montgomery) and a right-hander they had acquired a few days before the season began (Nick Vincent).
On paper, the M’s bullpen looked to be a five-run inning waiting to happen and minimally better than last year’s unmitigated disaster. But three games into the season, this supposed motley crew has yet to allow a run.
In the three-game series against the Rangers, Mariners relievers worked 10 scoreless innings. On Wednesday in the Mariners’ 9-5 series-clinching win, Vincent, Benoit and closer Steve Cishek each tossed a scoreless inning. Vincent and Benoit made sure the Rangers didn’t expand their one-run lead.
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The Mariners scored five runs in the ninth inning.
Cishek made his Mariners debut in a non-save situation. He was able to get a quality inning, retiring the side in order.
“The key to the game for me was really the bullpen, keeping us right there,” manager Scott Servais said.
Of the seven-pitcher group, only Vidal Nuno has yet to appear in a game.
Montgomery made his relief debut Monday night, tossing two scoreless innings and easing some concerns about his transition from starting.
“Couldn’t be any happier for him,” Servais said. “Hopefully … the confidence continues to grow and (he gets) more comfortable. The big thing is to get that first guy out. You’ve got to throw strikes. He did that. Not just throw strikes. He dominated them, which is great to see.”
In Tuesday’s win, Vincent and Peralta worked scoreless innings and Zych worked the last two innings without allowing a run.
Vincent pitched a quick 1-2-3 seventh inning Wednesday, striking out two.
“He can help us a lot,” Servais said. “He just takes the ball and goes after hitters. He has a plan.”
• Playing against the team that signed and developed him, Leonys Martin had a strong series, hitting .400 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and three RBI.
The Mariners acquired Martin in the offseason from Texas with right-hander Anthony Bass (now pitching in Japan) for reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, infielder Patrick Kivlehan and outfielder James Jones.
Martin said he was emotional playing in Texas against his friends, but having a good series made it easier.
“I don’t want to turn it into a big thing,” he said. “But I’m so happy about it.”
• The Mariners are 17-9 in their past 26 games against the Rangers and have won six of the past eight.
• After going hitless in his first 10 at-bats, Ketel Marte went 3 for 4 on Wednesday.