NEW YORK — With the adrenaline of his outing from Friday’s 2-1 victory over the Mets at CitiField still pulsing through his body, right-hander Paul Sewald couldn’t help but admit how much it meant to beat the team that drafted, developed and decided not to offer him a contract as an arbitration-eligible player.
“They gave up on me,” Sewald said. “It was pretty nice to get a little revenge today. Most important, we got a win. That’s the most important thing … but it was pretty nice.”
Sewald entered the game with two outs in the seventh inning, replacing Marco Gonzales, who had left him runners on second and third and Starling Marte at the plate. With the game tied at 1-1, it was the key moment. With a crowd of 36,629 standing and roaring for Marte, Sewald struck him out swinging on a slider.
As he screamed in celebration and pointed to his family in the stands. Mets fans jeered at Sewald for his success with similar fury they used berate him for his failures.
“Fans weren’t a huge fan of me when I was here,” Sewald said.
After Ty France gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead, Sewald pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning to set up Drew Steckenrider for the save in the ninth.
“This was 18 months coming since they got rid of me,” he said. “I was hoping that I can get out here and pitch against them. It’s pretty nice to do it really well and help our team get the win for it. There were just was a lot of a lot of emotions, positive and negative, when I was here, so it all just kind of came out.”
In four seasons with the Mets, he appeared in 125 games, posting a 1-14 record with a 5.50 ERA. In 147 1/3 innings, he struck out 151 batters with 51 walks.
After he was non-tendered by the Mets after the COVID-shortened 2020 season, making him a free agent, Sewald signed a minor-league contract with the Mariners that included an invitation to MLB spring training. He was fascinated by the Mariners’ pitching analysts, who had a break down of his strengths and weaknesses, including a plan for his success.
The Mariners told him to throw his four-seam fastball at the top of the strike zone, which despite being 91-92 mph, appeared to be much faster because of his deceptive delivery and high spin rate. To compliment that fastball, they told him to try and sweep his slider out of the strike zone.
He found success with the philosophy, but he still opened the season with Class AAA Tacoma and wasn’t added to the MLB roster until May 13, 2021. The Mariners initially used him in low-leverage situations, but he pitched his way into to a priority role with his ability to strike out hitters.
Sewald posted a 10-3 record with a 3.06 ERA in 62 appearances with 104 strikeouts and 24 walk in 64 2/3 innings. His 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings with sixth best in MLB. He appeared in 18 of the Mariners’ league-leading 33 one-run victories.
“It’s not a secret that I was not consistent when I was here,” Sewald said. “I had moments. There were some coaching decisions that weren’t ideal, and there were some situations without going up and down that weren’t ideal. But I wasn’t as consistent here as I am with Seattle. It was just good to just turn my career around and be a lot better pitcher.”
Swanson to the injured list
A Mariners bullpen that has yet to be at full strength this season lost another key reliever on Saturday when right-hander Erik Swanson was placed on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation.
The Mariners recalled left-handed reliever Danny Young from Class AAA Tacoma to take his place on the roster.
Young never reported to Tacoma after being optioned on Friday morning. The Mariners knew there was a chance that Swanson could go on the injured list.
“He had an MRI taken and it’s not the ligament,” Servais said. “It’s just a little bit of nerve irritation is the best way I’d put it. He tried to play catch a little bit yesterday. He probably wants to give it a few more days. I don’t know how much we’re going to rely on our bullpen. We want to make sure we have a full cast of characters down there to go to if we need to.”
Swanson started feeling the discomfort after his last outing May 10. He had an MRI on Thursday morning in Seattle.
He has a 1.29 ERA, allowing two runs in 14 innings in 13 relief appearances. Opponents were hitting just to .192 (10-for-52) against him. Using a nasty split-finger fastball and adding a slider to go with his mid-90s fastball, he has just one walk and 21 strikeouts on the season.
“It’s not ideal,” Servais said. “He’s been throwing the ball so well. It’s really been awesome. It’s the best version we’ve seen of Erik Swanson and a lot of it had to do with the development of a secondary pitches.”
Another day, another trade with Giants
The Mariners made their fifth trade with San Francisco since April 26, sending outfielder Stuart Fairchild to the Giants in exchange for infielder Alex Blandino and cash.
Blandino, 29, has been with Class AAA Sacramento since the start of the season, playing in 24 games and posting a .183/.309/.281 slash line with five doubles, a homer, nine RBI, 13 walks and 38 strikeouts.
Blandino, a first-round pick (No. 29 overall) in the 2014 draft by the Reds out of Stanford, made his MLB debut on April 10, 2018. In 135 MLB games over parts of three seasons, he’s posted a .228/.339/.291 slash line with nine doubles, two homers, 16 RBI, 31 walks and 83 strikeouts in 279 plate appearances.
Fairchild, 26, was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma and designated for assignment on Friday after appearing in three games for the Mariners off the bench. A standout at Seattle Prep, Fairchild was acquired by the Mariners from Arizona on April 30 for cash considerations after being designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks.