BALTIMORE — When you’ve lost more than half the games you’ve played on the road this season, and won just one road series, even if it did come against one of the better teams in baseball in the New York Mets, it’s clear that any victory away from T-Mobile Park will never be simple or a given, regardless of opponent.
And as difficult as they made it on themselves early in the game, the Mariners persevered through some base-running mistakes, a blown three-run lead in the sixth inning and nightmares of so many past failures to pick up a 7-6 victory in 10 innings over the Baltimore Orioles in a four-hour marathon on Thursday.
It gave the Mariners just their second series win on the road this season, and improved their road record to 10-19. Seattle has won back-to-back series for the first time since the season’s opening homestand.
Their reward for the accomplishment was a flight out of Baltimore to Dallas-Fort Worth sometime between 1 and 2 a.m. In a scheduling “quirk,” the Mariners didn’t get a day game on getaway day.
“I was expecting a rain delay at some point,” manager Scott Servais admitted. “Thank God that didn’t happen, but it’s part of the deal. It’s the schedule. We know what it is. We’ll get in Texas late tonight (technically morning), show up ready to play tomorrow. But it’s always better when you win the game. I do know that.”
The Mariners haven’t had that feeling often this season. They’ve struggled to find any sort of consistent play — other than suboptimal — in a lockout-modified scheduled front-loaded with games away from Seattle. It’s either their offense not providing adequate run support for good pitching performances or pitching wasting leads on days when the offense does post.
“When you’re at home, you feel like you’re always in the game,” said Jesse Winker, who had three hits and reached base four times on the night. “It’s always tough to go in and beat a team where they’re comfortable at home. I think we play outstanding at home as well. So it’s one of those things, every win you can get on the road, it’s very meaningful.”
Diego Castillo delivered one of his best pitching performances since being acquired at midseason in 2021, pitching two shutout innings — the ninth to send the game into extra innings and the 10th to earn the victory.
“It’s the sharpest we’ve seen Diego in a long time,” Servais said. “His confidence is back and putting him in those high leverage moments, he thrives in them.”
After retiring the top of the Orioles order with relative ease in the ninth, Castillo admittedly wasn’t expecting to go back for the 10th.
“I don’t remember the last time I went two innings,” he said.
While he did pitch more than one inning with the Rays twice in April of 2021, the last time he pitched two complete innings was Oct. 9, 2020 when he tossed two scoreless innings in Tampa’s 2-1 win over the Yankees to clinch the series win in the American League divisional series.
“We’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” he said.
Seattle provided him only one run of support.
Looking for a fly ball to the outfield to score automatic runner Eugenio Suarez from third base with one out, Abraham Toro crushed a deep fly ball to center field off Jorge Lopez that Cedric Mullins couldn’t corral as he slammed into the wall. The 400-foot blast went for a triple.
“He’s throws a lot of sinkers and curveballs so I was just trying to look for something up in the zone and trying to get a sac fly,” Toro said.
The Mariners failed to add on any insurance runs as Toro remained stranded at third, but Castillo made it hold up.
In the two wins in the series, Seattle scored a combined 17 runs on 25 hits and eight walks with 12 hits in 28 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“Our offense is doing what they need to do,” Servais said. “I’m really happy with how we’re swinging the bats. We’re going to need to do that to create a little room for our bullpen.”
Seattle got a decent but abbreviated start from right-hander Chris Flexen, who worked five innings and allowed three runs on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
Baltimore jumped on Flexen in the first inning, picking up a pair of runs on an RBI single through the shift for Austin Hays and a double to left from Ryan Mountcastle.
The Mariners answered with a pair of runs in the third inning to briefly tie the game at 2. Taylor Trammell led off with a bloop double, advanced to third on the first of Luis Torrens’ three hits and scored on Winker’s single to right field. Torrens would later score when Julio Rodriguez stole second base and catcher Adley Rutschman’s off-line throw bounced into center field.
Flexen gave up his third run of the outing in the bottom of the inning. Mullins led off with a double and later scored on Austin Hays bloop single to right field. Flexen limited the damage to just one run, getting Mountcastle to fly out to center and striking out Rutschman to end the inning.
Down 3-2, the Mariners rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth, seemingly taking control of the game … for that half inning.
A bloop RBI single from Suarez tied the game and a sacrifice fly from Adam Frazier gave Seattle a 4-3 lead. Torrens added two insurance runs that would quickly be wasted, hitting a line drive up the middle that almost took the hat off reliever Joey Krehbiehl. Torrens’ third hit of the night scored a pair of runs and made it 6-3.
But the lead was short-lived.
Matt Festa entered the game and immediately made a mess, hitting Rutschman, giving up a double into the left field corner to Ramon Urias that scored Rutschman from first base, and hitting Rougned Odor.
Understanding the need to quell the building momentum, Servais went to his best reliever — Paul Sewald — to clean up the inning. Sewald got Chris Owings to ground out softly back to the mound. But the soft bouncer moved the runners to second and third. That loomed large when Mullins doubled into the left field corner to score both runners and tie the game at 6-6.
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