For a night, everything looked and worked as planned.  

Robbie Ray was striking out batters, putting up scoreless frames and flirting with a no-hitter. The Mariners offense was aggressive but disciplined in the batter’s box and fearless on the bases, getting runners on and hitting the ball with authority to drive them in. All while an announced crowd of 37,500 at T-Mobile Park shrugged off sub-60 degree temperatures to revel in the experience of quality baseball.

In their 8-1 drubbing of the Angels, the Mariners offered a decisive one-game reminder of what they were supposed to be, what they still can be and what they need to be moving forward to try and overcome a sluggish start to the season and reach their stated goal of ending a postseason drought that’s old enough to drink.  

“Yeah, this is the way it was supposed to be,” manager Scott Servais said with hope. “Certainly, it doesn’t always work out the way it’s supposed to work out on paper. You know you’re gonna go through some rough times and hopefully today was a stepping stone, kind of turn it around offensively for us.”

Obviously, the lopsided nature of the victory isn’t expected each night. And the opposing team’s starting pitcher — Michael Lorenzen isn’t quite Shohei Ohtani — and the opposing lineup — the Angels sat Ohtani and Jared Walsh — will play into it. But the Mariners’ overall execution can be replicated.

“We matched it up — really outstanding pitching with a lot of timely hitting,” Servais said. “That hasn’t always been the case here recently.”

It also helps when your starting pitcher offers one of his most dominant performances in a string of them. Ray pitched into the eighth inning, allowing one run on three hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts to improve to 6-6.

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With the in-season addition of a sinking two-seam fastball to his repertoire to offer a different look to batters, Ray is returning to the level of performance that carried him to the 2021 American League Cy Young Award and motivated the Mariners to sign him to a five-year, $115 million contract this past offseason.

Given more run support in the first four innings — a 7-0 lead — than he and his fellow starters have received in a week, Ray carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in dominating fashion.

Over the first six innings, the hard-grunting lefty allowed just two hitters to reach base — walking Mike Trout in the first inning and hitting Luis Rengifo with a pitch with two outs. After getting Max Stassi to ground out to third to avoid any damage, Ray retired the next 15 batters in a row.

He went into the seventh having not allowed a hit. After retiring Matt Duffy and Rengifo on groundouts, Stassi came to the plate. Ray fell behind 2-0 and came back with a perfect slider. His 2-1 sinker to Stassi produced a high-hopping chopper off the dirt in front of the plate.

Ray tried to make a grab of the ball, but mistimed it a little. The ball bounced off his mitt and died in the grass behind the mound. There was no play at first base.

The official scorer correctly ruled it a hit. With the Mariners in a shift to the left side of the infield, Ray was the only person who could’ve made the play. Even if the ball doesn’t touch his glove, it’s still likely a hit with Stassi hustling to first base.

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Ray dropped to a crouch after not making the play and looked up with a wry smile to say, “How did I miss that?” He knew it was a hit.

“I’m the one that caused it,” he said. “It was just such an easy play. It was just funny that’s how it ended. I didn’t even jump. I just expected it to come down into my glove. So I never even left the ground.”

He closed out the seventh inning and received a standing ovation from the crowd. With a doubleheader on Saturday, Ray went back out for the eighth inning, trying to steal another scoreless frame. But a leadoff triple off the bat of Juan Lagares and Andrew Velazquez’s bloop double to right field ended his outing. It snapped a string of 14 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.

“The fans here are great and to see the support that they had for me for what I was able to do tonight, it was cool,” Ray said.

The Mariners jumped on Lorenzen immediately.

They grabbed a run in the first on Julio Rodriguez’s aggressive running on the bases and Eugenio Suarez’s RBI single to left. They tacked on another run in the second when Cal Raleigh hit his eighth homer of the season — a fly ball just over the wall in right field to make it 2-0.

After Ty France, who isn’t known for his speed, took two bases on a wild pitch and a bad throw, Rodriguez, who had three hits on the night, made it 3-0 with a ringing RBI single to center in the third inning that registered a 115-mph exit velocity.

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The Mariners broke the game open in fourth. Jesse Winker worked a leadoff walk and Adam Frazier dumped a one-out single into left field. After Raleigh flew out to left field, Taylor Trammell worked another walk in the inning to load the bases with two outs.  

With Lorenzen scuffling, J.P. Crawford didn’t try to force the action, instead settling for a bases-loaded walk that pushed a run across to make it 4-0.

After not playing in Thursday’s loss — his first day off this season — a refreshed France showed why he’s been the team’s most productive hitter. He yanked a low sinker from Lorenzen into the left-field corner for a bases-clearing three-run double and a 7-0 Mariners lead.

France leads the Mariners with 44 runs batted in.

“We were uncomfortable to play against tonight and that’s how I want the Mariners to play against other teams,” Servais said. “Don’t let them settle in, don’t let him be comfortable.”

Justin Upton left the game after being struck in the helmet with a 91 mph fastball in the fifth inning. Servais said he never lost consciousness and the Mariners are hoping he can play Saturday.

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