Andrew Albers, the Mariners’ 16th starting pitcher of the season, picked up his first win, allowing one run in five innings. Four relievers worked the final four innings to snap the streak.
The Mariners won’t go winless on their only homestand in August. And if they can pull out another a victory on Wednesday in the finale of the seven-game stretch at Safeco Field, well, that would be a series victory over the Orioles and some glimmer of positivity after five days of disappointment.
Unlike the previous series with the Angels where they were swept in four games, the Mariners new “wolfpack” bullpen philosophy to get them through games, worked just as planned in a 3-1 victory over Baltimore.
Four relievers combined to work the final four innings without allowing a single baserunner, protecting the two-run lead and snapping a five-game losing streak.
Orioles @ M’s,12:40 p.m., ROOT
“That is the pitching plan we’ve been trying to do,” manager Scott Servais said.
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Emilio Pagan entered the game in the sixth inning with the Mariners holding the 3-1 lead. He delivered two outstanding innings, retiring all six batters he faced, including four by strikeout. Marc Rzepczynski retired lefty pinch hitter Seth Smith to start the eighth while Nick Vincent came in and retired the next two batters on fly balls.
Closer Edwin Diaz worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 26th save, and the Mariners had a win. It looked very simple. It didn’t always look that way against the Angels, but the difference was that Servais had a rested bullpen and was able to use his best arms to play the matchups.
“Unfortunately, they had too much rest,” Servais joked. “We just hadn’t gotten those guys out there too much recently. But they were ready to go.”
For as much credit as he gave his bullpen, Servais couldn’t overlook the fact that the Mariners had a lead after five innings.
“It starts with the guy that gets up there on the hill in the first inning,” he said. “He’s got to give you a chance.”
That guy was Andrew Albers, who got up on “the hill” at Safeco Field for the first time in the bottom of the top of the first inning. Acquired last week, Albers was the 16th pitcher of the season to start a game for the Mariners. The lefty was solid in his short outing, pitching five innings, allowing one run on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts to get the win. It was his first big league win since Aug. 12, 2013 when he was with the Twins.
“Luckily I was able to put us in a place with a chance to win and the bullpen shut the door,” he said. “It means a lot, but at the same time it’s more important that we just win ball games. So whether I get the W or someone else gets the W, it really doesn’t matter.”
Albers pitched and carried himself every bit like the 31-year-old grinder that had appeared in 241 games and thrown 993 innings in his professional career with stops in the independent leagues, Korea and every possible burg and small city that could hold a minor-league team of varying levels.
“He’s a very confident guy and he knows who he is,” Servais said. “He’s not trying overpower them. He’s going to throw his game.”
After allowing a first-inning homer to Jonathan Schoop with two outs, Albers settled in and worked the next four innings scoreless. He got some help from his defense. Danny Espinosa made a nice grab at third base on a liner with one out and runners on first and second the second inning.
In the third inning, center fielder Jarrod Dyson reminded opponents once again not to run on him. With no outs and runners on the corners, Dyson caught Adam Jones’ hard fly ball to center then fired a perfect throw without a hop to Mike Zunino at home, beating Manny Machado, who had tagged up and sprinted for home, by a few feet.
“What a throw,” Albers said. “That was kind of a game-changer at that point and a momentum changer. I was jogging behind the plate to back up. And I thought, ‘ah, shoot, I just gave up another one,’ and all of the sudden you see that throw and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, wow.’ If we go down 2-0 there it might be a different ballgame.”
Albers worked the next two innings without allowing a runner.
Seattle didn’t produce an avalanche of runs against one-time Mariner Wade Miley, whose half season with Seattle last year was largely forgettable.
The Mariners tied the score in the fourth inning. Guillermo Heredia hustled for a leadoff double on a soft line drive to left field, moved on to third on Robinson Cano’s ground ball to first and scored on Nelson Cruz’s single to left.
The Mariners grabbed the lead in the fifth inning. Espinosa, playing in place of Kyle Seager, who was out with a stomach virus, led off with a double to right-center. He later scored on Jean Segura’s single through the left side to give Seattle a 2-1 lead. The Mariners picked up another run later in the inning when Heredia made sure that Cano’s ground ball to first base would score the runner from third. Heredia, who was running from first, executed a hard, but legal slide into second, knocking shortstop Tim Beckham to the ground and not allowing him to turn an inning-ending double play.