ARLINGTON, Texas — Given what had transpired in the last two games of their previous visit to the comfortably climate-controlled monstrosity that is Globe Life Field, it seemed fitting that the Mariners would have to get Jonah Heim out with the game’s outcome in the balance.
Baseball can have twisted sense of humor in that way.
For those that may not remember the series of events that manager Scott Servais would give anything to forget, Heim hit walk-off home runs in back-to-back games (July 31 and August 1) against the Mariners the last time they were in Texas.
When the bottom of the ninth started with the Mariners holding a two-run lead, Heim was three batters away from seeing the plate. He’d only bat if a runner reached base. So, of course, Adolis Garcia singled to start the inning. It all set up for Heim to continue his torture of Servais and Seattle.
But unlike his previous walk-off heroics, Heim was facing Paul Sewald, who wasn’t about to let his first outing after becoming a father be sullied with defeat.
Sewald avoided throwing a pitch anywhere near Heim’s sweet spot — low and inside — and used a first-pitch fastball away to get a fly out to center field, closing out Seattle’s 3-1 win over the Rangers.
“It’s interesting how that works out,” Servais said. “But I was thinking the same thing, ‘Here comes Heim again with two outs in the ninth inning and you’re gonna have to make some pitches against them. And Paul certainly did.”
Sewald, who picked up his fifth save of the season, had missed the weekend series with the Blue Jays on paternity leave to be with his wife, Molly, for the birth of their child — a daughter named Chloe.
“He’s been out a few days and he was fresh,” Servais said. “But you never know what you’re going to get when he really hasn’t pitched in four or five days. I think he was a little more anxious because he hasn’t been out there in a while.”
With the win, Seattle improved to 64-56 and has won five of its last six games.
Facing the Rangers for the third time in four starts since being traded to the Mariners, Tyler Anderson delivered his longest outing. He pitched six innings, allowing one run on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts to pick up his first win with the team.
“It’s really been huge and certainly under the radar,” Servais said of the addition of Anderson. “We picked up a few guys at the trade deadline. We needed another starter. He’s not a big-name guy per se, but a guy that just comes in and does his job and gives you a chance. And that’s really what we were looking for. So far, we’ve gotten more than that.”
His one run allowed came in the third inning. After his teammates had given him a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning on a sacrifice fly from Ty France that scored Cal Raleigh, Anderson immediately served up a solo homer to Andy Ibanez, who was leading off the bottom of the third.
After getting up 1-2, Anderson tossed a changeup that didn’t quite have the expected sink or fade-away from the right-handed hitting Ibanez. He hammered it into the left-field seats for his fifth homer of the season.
“That changeup to Ibanez and just caught too much plate with that,” Anderson said. “He’s probably looking soft there anyway, so it was just about location.”
But the Mariners gave Anderson another one-run lead in the fifth inning when Raleigh singled, advanced to third on J.P. Crawford’s double to right field and scored on Mitch Haniger’s deep fly ball to center to make it 2-1.
Given the lead again, Anderson made it hold up. He retired 12 straight batters after the Ibanez homer and left after six innings.
“I just think last time against them, last week at home, I just felt like I threw too many pitches to get through five,” he said. “I just threw a lot of pitches that were either just close or chase pitches or foul balls. So today, I was just trying to attack the zone a little bit more, trying to force contact and trying to be a little more efficient today than last time.”
Aided by a few outstanding defensive plays, the Mariners’ bullpen, fresh off a day off, didn’t allow a run over the final three innings.
Jarred Kelenic made a nice sliding grab on a sinking liner in center off the bat of Nathaniel Lowe to help Drew Steckenrider work a scoreless seventh.
In the eighth inning, Diego Castillo pitched himself into a spot of trouble, allowing a one-out single to Ibanez and then hitting Yonny Castillo with a pitch to put the tying run and the go-ahead run on base.
But Crawford cleaned up the mess, starting an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play with a fast and crisp lead throw to Abraham Toro despite being off balance when fielding Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s ground ball deep in the hole.
Toro received the perfectly delivered throw and showed off his corner-infielder arm, firing to first base with authority to get Kiner-Falefa and complete the double play. It was Seattle’s 105th double play of the season, near the top of the AL and MLB.
“(It’s) practice. He does that every day in our pregame routine to get the ball right there, (and) he fields the ball exactly the same way,” Servais said of Crawford. “The ability to put that kind of velocity on the feed to second base is the only way that gets turned. Certainly you got to have a good pivot at second and Toro did a great job there, but it all starts with J.P. and the fact that he practices that every day. That’s the only way you pull that off and to be that consistent.”
Seattle got a big insurance run in the ninth inning when Luis Torrens hit a solo homer into the Rangers’ bullpen. For a moment, it looked like Rangers center fielder D.J. Peters had made one of the best catches of the season.
He made a leaping attempt at the ball, stretching out his 6-foot-6 frame and had the ball in his glove. But when his armpit hit the padded top of the wall, the collision knocked the ball out of his glove. It gave Torrens his 14th homer of the season.