The last time Dylan Moore played third base against a team that was the defending World Series champions was way back on March 30, 2019, at Safeco Field.
As a wide-eyed rookie and starting his first MLB game, Moore experienced an inning that might have left permanent scarring for most players. With two outs in the ninth inning and the Mariners leading, Moore committed errors on three consecutive plays, allowing three runs to score. The Mariners managed to win the game, which saved him from infamy.
But it was clear after the game that he believed in his talent and his athleticism and that he belonged in the big leagues.
“It’s one of those things that where it rains, it pours. I have to put it behind me,” he said after that game. “Tomorrow is a new day. And if they hit it to me, I’m going to get it.”
Fast forward to Monday night at now T-Mobile Park with the defending world champion Dodgers in town. They hit one to him and he got it.
Asked to move from second base to third base in the sixth inning after Ty France was hit in the right forearm by a pitch, Moore made the biggest defensive play in a game filled with them.
With runners on first and second and two outs and Seattle clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh inning, Moore made a ridiculous leaping catch on Will Smith’s hard line drive to end the inning and prevent the tying run from scoring.
That play helped the Mariners’ bullpen lock down the final three innings and secure a 4-3 victory over the Dodgers.
“We’re comfortable putting Dylan Moore anywhere on the field really,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He handles it. He has a knack for making plays. He’s just so super, super athletic. You see the diving plays. He finishes plays. A lot of guys dive and knock it down but the ball kicks out of their glove. It doesn’t happen so much with Dylan. I will never forget that night. You’ll never let me forget it. But he survived it. It says a lot about him and his mental toughness.”
Moore leapt as high as he could and extended his glove to its limit to snag Smith’s line drive.
“It was a great play and I’m fortunate to have it hit at him,” said Kendall Graveman, who was on the mound for Seattle.
Graveman delivered a brilliant relief outing in high leverage situations. He replaced Anthony Misiewicz with one out and runners on first and second and Justin Turner, one of the hottest hitters in baseball with a .404 batting average coming into the game, stepping into the batter’s box.
The battle was simple: Graveman throwing his sinker as hard as he can at Turner, who knew he was going to get a sinker.
“In that moment, I felt like sticking with the heater was the best option and that’s what we did,” Graveman said.
He struck Turner out swinging on a nasty 97-mph sinker for the big second out and set up Moore’s heroics.
Graveman has established himself as the leader of the bullpen in his first year as a reliever. He pitched a scoreless eighth and it allowed Rafael Montero to work a scoreless ninth for his fourth save despite allowing a pair of base runners.
Facing right-hander Dustin May, a lanky flamethrower standing 6 feet 7 with a curly mane of red hair flowing from his hat straight out of the 1970s and a sinking 99-mph fastball out of the future, the Mariners were able to get offense from places other than the first three spots in the order.
With two outs in the first inning and France on first base, Jose Marmolejos, who was batting in the cleanup spot, took advantage of one of those 98-mph sinkers that May let leak over the middle of the plate. He turned on the pitch, sending a line drive screaming toward the right-field wall. A base hit for certain, the only question was whether it would have enough height to clear the wall or embed into it. The ball cleared the wall for a two-run homer and a 2-0 lead.
Per MLB Statcast data, the homer that looked more like a 2-iron off the tee had a 114 mph exit velocity and a launch angle of just 17 degrees. Since Statcast started tracking data roughly five years ago, only five homers have ever had launch angles below 17 degrees and only Giancarlo Stanton has a harder-hit ball with a 116 mph exit velocity off a pitch at 99 mph.
The Mariners picked up their third run in the second inning via the home run from an unexpected source given his recent struggles. Rookie Taylor Trammell was ready for a 99-mph sinker from May, sending a fly ball over the wall in left-center field. The solo blast landed in the area known as The ‘Pen, which no longer contains a mass of disinterested fans downing alcoholic beverages not watching the game.
The homer from Trammell wasn’t surprising due to his obvious power, but he’s struggled for much of this season with making consistent contact. He came into the game with .152/.278/.304 slash line with 23 strikeouts in 46 at-bats. After hitting homers in back-to-back games in Minnesota, Trammell was 2 for 19 with seven strikeouts in his past six games, and both of those hits were infield ground balls he beat out with his speed.
May worked five innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.
The Mariners got a solid, but somewhat unfinished start from left-hander Justus Sheffield, who worked 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits with three walks, a hit batter and six strikeouts.
His most regrettable pitch came in the third inning. Facing the Dodgers lineup for the second time, he gave up a one-out double to Mookie Betts and made the mistake of hanging a first-pitch slider to Corey Seager, who doesn’t let such gifts go un-crushed. Seager put the ball over the center-field wall with Statcast measuring it at 425 feet.
Trammell got one of the runs back in the fourth. Luis Torrens reached on a fielding error by Chris Taylor with two outs to bring Trammell to the plate. After working the count full and Torrens running on the 3-2 pitch, Trammell pulled a cutter into the right-field corner that allowed the less-than-speedy catcher to score on the play to make it 4-2.
Sheffield ran into trouble in the sixth. A leadoff walk to Turner and a pitch off Taylor’s foot with one out put the tying run on base. Sheffield was able to strike out A.J. Pollock, but Ian McKinstry dumped a soft two-out run-scoring single into center that ended Sheffield’s outing. Right-hander Will Vest entered and struck out pinch hitter Luke Raley to end the inning, keeping the Mariners’ lead at 4-3.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.