In the current era of “elevate, then celebrate,” when the ability to hit the ball as hard as possible in the air is measured, evaluated and desired to the point where terms like “launch angle” and “exit velocity” are now common vocabulary, the Mariners proved for one night that not all runs are scored or all wins are achieved through home runs.
Desperate for offense and any sort of tangible results, they happily took anything — infield singles, broken-bat bloopers, opponent errors and one controversial play — to scratch across just enough runs and hold on for a 5-4 victory Tuesday night over the Philadelphia Phillies at T-Mobile Park.
“We had one of those games where the ball did bounce our way tonight,” manager Scott Servais. “We didn’t hit a ton of balls hard, but we were fortunate we hit them in the right spots. We haven’t had that game in quite some time. You always say, ‘Oh, it’s going to even out.’ I don’t know if it ever evens out, but we’ll take it.”
Of their 11 hits, six never left the infield, and two came on broken-bat flares to the outfield. Philadelphia also gifted Seattle four errors and even a bases-loaded hit by pitch. It was enough for starting pitcher Robbie Ray, who is slowly finding his Cy Young form, and three relievers to hold on for a much-needed win.
“I felt like we were due for some of those after the past few weeks,” said Mariners second baseman Adam Frazier, who had three hits. “It’s been tough. We’ve had some guys hitting the ball hard at guys and nothing to show for it.”
The Mariners can end an otherwise atrocious homestand with a series victory over Philly in the finale Wednesday afternoon. Right-hander Logan Gilbert, who has been Seattle’s best starting pitcher this season, will get the start.
So about that offense: The Mariners scored two runs in the first inning. Facing Phillies starter Aaron Nola, their best remaining healthy starter, Frazier looped a broken-bat single into left field. Ty France followed with a double down the third-base line. With runners on second and third and one out, Eugenio Suarez splintered his bat on a little shift-beating ground ball through the right side to score Frazier. France would later score on Julio Rodriguez’s swinging bunt to third base that he beat out for his seventh infield hit of the season.
“When you’re facing an ace like Nola, that’s all you can do,” Frazier said. “You hope he makes a mistake, but he was hitting corners tonight. So just put the ball in play, especially with two strikes and make something happen.”
Seattle made it 3-0 in the second inning when Luis Torrens reached on an infield single and advanced to second when Nola’s throw on the play was nowhere near first base. Torrens scored moments later amid controversy. Frazier collided with the glove of first baseman Rhys Hoskins as he caught the ball at first base, knocking it loose. Torrens scored on the play.
Replays showed that Hoskins had cleanly caught the ball with his foot on the base. But first-base umpire Brian Knight ruled Frazier safe. Phillies manager Joe Girardi argued the play. And then the umpires wouldn’t allow the Phillies to ask for a replay review because time had expired. That incensed Girardi, and he was ejected.
Getting used to the cooler Puget Sound evenings and wearing long sleeves when he pitches, Ray tossed 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits with two walks and a season-high 10 strikeouts.
He was perfect through four innings, striking out six. In his previous outing, Ray said he felt close to finding timing with his delivery and fastball velocity.
“I definitely felt like everything was clicking tonight,” Ray said. “The fastball was really good, and the slider was as good as it’s ever been. It felt like my timing and everything was right where it needed to be.”
But Nick Castellanos, the first batter of the fifth inning, pulled a low slider over the wall in left field for his fifth homer of the season to cut the lead to 3-1. It would get more bizarre in the inning. Ray seemingly lost his command for a brief period. After walking Jean Segura with one out and seeing him advance to second on a fly out to left field, Ray uncorked back-to-back wild pitches that got past Torrens for a run. The last wild pitch bounced well in front of the plate that made it 3-2.
A two-out walk of Johan Camargo earned a visit from pitching coach Pete Woodworth. Ray reeled the outing back in, ending the fifth with a strikeout of Matt Vierling.
“It’s frustrating,” Ray said. “The wild pitches, the home run, it is what it is.”
Ray wouldn’t finish the sixth. After striking out Kyle Schwarber and Alec Bohm, he allowed a double to Bryce Harper to end his outing.
Andres Muñoz entered the game and walked Castellanos but then coaxed a weak ground ball back to the mound from J.T. Realmuto to end the inning.
Seattle tacked on two needed runs in the sixth to go up 5-2. Jarred Kelenic worked a walk and goaded Nola into myriad pickoff throws, one of which was mishandled by Hoskins for the fourth error of the game. Torrens won an 11-pitch battle with Nola and singled to right. The Phillies went to reliever Brad Hand, who walked Frazier and then hit France with a pitch to force across another run. After missing two games because of back spasms, J.P. Crawford returned to face his former team and hit a hard sacrifice fly to center to score what would be the decisive run.
Erik Swanson allowed a solo homer in the seventh to make it 5-3.
Things got tense in the ninth inning when Paul Sewald gave up a solo homer to Segura that cut the lead to 5-4 with one out. But the veteran reliever came back to retire Hoskins and Camargo.
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