A bullpen that has saved the Mariners time and again in a so-far surprisingly competitive 2021 season did so once more Sunday to key a 3-2 win against the White Sox in the completion of a game that had been suspended due to rain Saturday in Chicago.
Six pitchers on Sunday combined to allow just six hits and two runs against the American League Central leaders, which proved enough for an offense that got three solo homers — two by Taylor Trammell, the winner in the top of the ninth with two outs and two strikes off Liam Hendriks.
But the bullpen may also have taken a significant hit as Hector Santiago was ejected in the fifth inning after umpires determined he had an illegal substance on his glove.
He is the first player ejected from a game since MLB’s “enhanced enforcement’’ of the illegal substance rule went into effect Monday.
Santiago was the “starter’’ in the resumption of the game, which had been suspended due to rain in the bottom of the third Saturday. Rookie Logan Gilbert had started the original game, pitching two scoreless innings.
Santiago can be suspended for 10 days, and if so, the Mariners will not be able to replace his spot on the roster, which would be a tough blow for a team that has depended greatly on its bullpen all season and is entering one of its tougher stretches of the year.
But Santiago and Mariners manager Scott Servais said they were confident that will not happen. Instead, each said that all Santiago had on his glove was rosin — which is allowed — which when mixed with sweat got sticky.
Santiago said he was told the issue is that he could not have rosin on his glove hand. But he said he had not been told that previously and insisted he was not trying to break any rules.
“I know that I didn’t use anything today,’’ Santiago said. “… I wasn’t using anything besides rosin, which was given to us.’’
Crew chief Tom Hallion, who was not on the field for the first game, confirmed that when speaking to a pool reporter after the game.
“He was ejected for when his glove was inspected, for having a foreign substance that was sticky on the inside palm of his glove,” Hallion said. He said when home-plate umpire Phil Cuzzi first noticed the substance he then called over other umpires and “we were all in agreement” that it was a sticky substance that warranted ejection, calling it “very noticeable.”
Hallion said further that it was “just obvious” and “not a norm for what we have seen over our careers in baseball.”
Servais clarified that there would be no suspension until the glove is examined in New York. The glove was packed away in a plastic bag by an MLB official.
Santiago said he had no doubt he will be cleared.
“Yeah definitely,’’ he said. “I think once they take it back and check if it’s just (going to be) sweat and rosin and we will be all right.’’
Servais likewise predicted Santiago will be cleared, saying, “They can go ahead and look at it. There is no sticky stuff in the glove.”
Servais noted it was “85 to 90%’’ humidity in Chicago on Sunday, which he said contributed to the mix of rosin and sweat to create a sticky substance.
“Our guys are doing the right thing,’’ Servais said, adding he hopes a ruling is made in the next day or two to clear things up. “They are following the rules. The umpires are trying to do the best they can.”
Santiago’s glove was inspected after he was taken out of the game with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, having given up a run and the White Sox having loaded the bases.
Under the rules, relievers are checked when they are taken out of the game. So, as Servais replaced Santiago in the fifth, Cuzzi and the three field umps descended on Santiago and examined his glove.
Servais tried to plead Santiago’s case, but Cuzzi then ejected Santiago.
Santiago has been in the majors since 2011, breaking in with the White Sox.
He had appeared in eight previous games for the Mariners this season with a 1-1 record and a 2.45 earned-run average in 14.2 innings.
Trammell hit two home runs to key the offense, including a solo shot with two outs in the top of the ninth off Hendriks that proved to be the winning run. He also proved clutch with the glove with a marvelous running catch of a long drive in the ninth off the bat of former UW and Bishop Blanchet High star Jake Lamb.
Seattle got all of its runs off solo homers — the two by Trammell, which marked the first multihomer game of his career — and another by Ty France. Trammell’s first HR came in the fifth and France’s in the sixth.
The Mariners have won 20 of their past 31 games and the victory Sunday assured a series win of the White Sox with the day’s second game still on tap.
Servais also said that second baseman Shed Long was replaced in the sixth inning by Dylan Moore when he did not run hard on a grounder. Long reached via an error by Leury Garcia.
“We have a standard that we are going to run hard all the time,’’ Servais said. “I didn’t think he really bused it so we just made a little adjustment. That’s how we play.’’