ARLINGTON, Texas — The resumption of baseball and the fight to remain in contention for a wild-card spot resumed for the Mariners after an anxious offday and Friday morning where Major League Baseball went more trade crazy than a fantasy football party fueled by Red Bull and booze.
When the transaction-mania finally settled a few hours before first pitch, the Mariners had two more new teammates: lefty Tyler Anderson, who will make his first start Saturday, and right-handed reliever Diego Castillo, who closed out Seattle’s businesslike 9-5 win Friday evening over the hapless Rangers team that is now without slugger Joey Gallo and top starting pitcher Kyle Gibson.
“Solid ballgame,” manager Scott Servais said. “A great way to start the trip. Guys came in ready to go today. They’ve got a job to do, and I keep saying it: This team competes, and they do it every night.”
The Mariners scored seven runs off Rangers starter Kolby Allard in the first three innings, highlighted by Jarred Kelenic’s third-inning three-run homer, which was more than enough run support for starter Logan Gilbert and the Mariners’ bullpen to snap a two-game losing spell. Seattle improved to 56-48 on the season and has a 35-22 record since being swept by the Padres in a three-game series May 21-23.
With a three-game series against the Rays looming Monday, followed by a four-game series at Yankee Stadium against a lineup that has added Gallo and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, it’s imperative that the Mariners take at least two of three if not sweep this series at Globe Life Field. They have now beaten Texas eight times in 11 meetings this season. The Rangers dropped to 36-67 on the season. They have the second worst record in baseball behind Arizona, who came into Friday at 32-71. The Orioles sit at 36-66 with their win over the Tigers on Friday.
“It was nice to jump out and get a lead,” Servais said. “We haven’t done that recently. It was a little bit different ballgame for us tonight, but much more enjoyable when you put seven runs up early.”
Gilbert gave the Mariners a workable start, pitching 5 2/3 innings, four runs allowed on six hits, including two solo homers, a walk and six strikeouts while improving to 5-2 on the season.
It was a bounceback outing for the rookie from his previous start where he lasted 2 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts against the A’s. After losing games in his first two starts, Seattle has now picked up wins in his last 11 starts.
“I thought Logan had really good fastball again, maybe not as dominant as we’ve seen in the past,” Servais said. “Coming into this game, the focus was really — let’s get the breaking ball and offspeed pitches. He did a nice job with that.”
Gilbert appeared on his way to a dominant outing as he featured his offspeed pitches immediately, something he didn’t do in his previous outing.
He struck out the side to start the game and only allowed one hit over the first three innings, adding two more strikeouts.
The Mariners provided all that early run support to make things even easier.
Seattle scored four runs off Allard in the second inning, showing a mature approach against Allard as his pitch count piled up. Seattle loaded the bases on the first of Abraham Toro’s three hits, a walk from Tom Murphy and a single from Kelenic. Dylan Moore worked a bases-loaded walk to score the first run on Kelenic’s RBI single. Seattle picked up two more runs when Isiah Kiner-Falefa threw wildly to home on Mitch Haniger’s groundball. Kelenic scored on the ball in play while Moore alertly hustled home on the overthrow, scoring from second base.
“We had a good game plan and had a lot of good at-bats early on,” Servais said.
The Mariners turned the game into rout in the third inning when Kelenic, using his more upright set-up at the plate, sat on a 2-1 slider and launched it deep into the right field seats. The ball traveled 392 feet. It was Kelenic’s first homer since being called back up from Tacoma and third of the season. His last homer came May 23 vs. the A’s.
“I think it definitely has its perks, especially when you have lefties throwing stuff that might sink in,” Kelenic said of his new set-up. “Being more upright, it allows me to keep my hands inside the baseball, I think definitely helped that. It was a pitch left over the middle of the plate, I put a great swing on it and it left the yard.”
But after three innings of dominance, Gilbert labored a little. He gave up a run in the fourth when Adolis Garcia doubled and Nathaniel Lowe followed with a single to center. Texas cut it to 7-2 in the fifth when Gilbert’s lone walk — a one-out pass to Curtis Terry — came around to score after a wild pitch and double to No. 9 hitter Jason Martin.
Hoping to get through six innings with a quality start (six-plus pitched, three or fewer runs allowed), Gilbert gave up a pair of solo blasts. He hung a slider that Garcia crushed into the upper deck in left field for his 23rd homer of the season. A misplaced changeup to Jonah Heim turned into a solo homer to right that ended Gilbert’s outing with two outs in the sixth. Anthony Misiewicz came on to get the final out.
“I could have done a better job, definitely,” Gilbert said. “It wasn’t one of my best outings by any means. But when the offense shows up like that, the defense is making good plays behind you and everything came together and we got the win, so that’s what matters.”
Having joined the team Friday and not having pitched since last Saturday, Castillo came in to pitch the ninth despite it not being a save situation. The hard-throwing right-hander flashed his power sinker and slider combination.
“Excited what I saw from Diego Castillo,” Servais said. “This guy’s pitched in a lot of big games at the end of the game. I love his mound presence out there tonight. We’ve definitely got something to work with.”