After having to endure seven strike-filled innings of Clayton Kershaw at his best on Thursday, leaving them with a mixture of feelings that included anger, embarrassment and respect, the Mariners were more than happy to see something, anything different than his Cy Young-level stuff and Hall-of-Fame execution.
And that it came against another lefty? Well, that made it even better.
Rangers’ starter Kolby Allard was the unsuspecting recipient of all those frustrations.
The Mariners made Allard’s outing brief, while making it feel interminable for him and the Rangers, grinding out at-bats and rolling up four runs in the first inning in what would be a solid 7-4 victory Friday night at T-Mobile Park.
“Yeah, (Kershaw) put us on it pretty good yesterday,” M’s rookie outfielder Kyle Lewis said during a postgame video conference. “As a whole, you just flush games like that and the next day you come back and do what we know how to do. Seeing us have that outbreak early in the game was a refreshing sign.”
It should be noted that the Mariners’ bullpen, which has had the finger of blame levied at it this season in most losses, delivered a strong performance in relief of starter Nick Margevicius.
Joey Gerber, Matt Magill, Dan Altavilla and Taylor Williams combined to work the final 3 2/3 inning scoreless while not allowing a hit. They struck out five batters and didn’t issue a walk.
That first inning against Allard set the tone.
Mired in an 0-for-20 stretch, J.P. Crawford led off with a single to left field. He would score from first moments later when Sam Haggerty pulled a double down the third-base line and left fielder Nick Zolak had trouble picking it up.
“Everybody was locked in,” M’s manager Scott Servais during a postgame video conference. “It was nice to see J.P. get hit early on and get us going.”
It didn’t get much better for Allard. In the midst of walking Kyle Lewis, he threw a wild pitch that scored Haggerty. He picked up one of the only two outs he would record by making a nice play on Kyle Seager’s swinging bunt. But Austin Nola followed with a bloop single to score Lewis to make it 3-0. After giving up another single to Tim Lopes, Allard struck out Dee Gordon. And the third out? He wouldn’t see it. Braden Bishop notched his first hit of 2020 with a double over the wall in right to make it 4-0 and No. 9 hitter Joe Odom drew a walk to end Allard’s outing.
“A number of guys swung the bat well,” Servais said. “That’s what it takes, trying to put big numbers up there. It’s got to happen. It can’t just be those guys in the middle of that lineup; everybody’s got to contribute. That’s what happened in the first inning.”
Lefty Wes Benjamin came in and struck out J.P. Crawford to end the inning. Allard faced all nine hitters in the Mariners’ lineup, giving up four runs on five hits with two walks, a strikeout and a wild pitch.
The Mariners continued to add on, picking up a run in the second on Lewis’ sixth homer of the season — a 406-foot blast over the wall in center that made it 5-0.
“It’s another one,” Servais said of Lewis’ homer. “It’s amazing. This guy hits the ball in the air, and it just keeps going. He’s got some kind of power, and he’s seeing the ball really, really well.”
Bishop drove in another run in the third inning with a ground ball, taking advantage of Lopes’ leadoff single and stolen base. He, too, was quite happy to not face Kershaw for a while. After striking out three times vs. Kershaw, he felt more productive a night later.
“I got to be honest with myself, you know you’re facing Clayton Kershaw the night before and he’s got his stuff and he’s gonna be a future Hall of Famer,” Bishop said.
A 6-0 lead seemed like plenty for Margevicius. Making his third start, the big lefty looked dominant for the first four innings, allowing just an infield single while striking out seven batters.
But as the Rangers adjusted to him in the second and third time through the lineup, they started to find some hard contact. Texas scored two runs with two outs in the fifth on a two-run double from Scott Heineman.
“Marge wasn’t quite as sharp in the fifth and sixth,” Servais said. “He had 95 pitches last time out. That was the first time he got extended that far (this season). We got an off day coming up, and he’ll have a full week before he starts again, but he has really shown well. This is a guy still 24 years old. He’s going to pitch in this league a long time. He really is. He throws strikes. He does not beat himself. He’s always got a good plan.”
Margevicius didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. He gave up a leadoff homer to Danny Santana and exited with one out and runners on first and third after a bunt single from Joey Gallo and a single from Jose Trevino. Gerber entered and traded a run for an out with a sacrifice fly from Rougned Odor and got Isiah Kiner-Falefa to end the inning with a fly out.
“I actually felt really strong tonight, and I was being really aggressive in the strike zone,” Margevicius said during a postgame video conference. “I was executing my game plan, and they just took advantage on some pitches on the outer half.”