A week after the crater, the Mariners completed the Rangers sweep to return to .500 | Browsers
It was exactly a week ago, the Mariners were losing relevance in baseball at an alarming rate.
The daily roster had at least two or three players who might not start for most Triple-A teams.
The pen they had leaned on so often at the start of the season was wiped out by testing positive for COVID-19 and the contact tracing that followed.
They had fought a six-game losing streak that included being swept unevenly by the Padres where the gap in talent and performance was so stark it was fair to wonder if the Mariners would really be. a claimant.
More loss and angst was sure to come on their trip to Oakland where the division-leading A’s awaited.
Visibly frustrated and emotionally exhausted manager Scott Servais attempted to deliver positive results at the time, noting Justin Dunn’s work and the improvement of the bats.
But the words sounded hollow and pollyannish depending on the team’s performance. The Mariners were 21-26 and headed for seasonal irrelevance faster than expected.
A week later, almost on time, the Mariners were on the pitch at T-Mobile Park, shaking hands and celebrating a 4-2 win over the Rangers who completed a rare four-game sweep. They had won six of their last seven games and were back at .500.
Yusei Kikuchi delivered a brilliant outing for Seattle. He went smooth for five innings and produced his sixth consecutive quality start – allowing two runs on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings – to drop to 3-3 this season. .
Ty France had three runs on a pair of hits and Kyle Seager hit a solo homerun to provide all the offense Seattle needed.
The last time Seattle swept a team in a four-game series was last season (Sept. 4-7) in Seattle. The Mariners have now beaten the Rangers in 12 straight games at T-Mobile Park. Seattle is also 21-8 in games scoring four or more points.
“Obviously we’ve had a lot of things in San Diego with the COVID situation,” Servais said. “We had a team meeting in San Diego after the last game there. I talked to the team a bit about where we were at. You don’t know how guys are always going to respond. But there are about three to four of them. During the season you kind of have to circle the cars a bit and make sure everyone is on board for what we were going to do. “
The meeting was not one-sided, although Servais did most of the talking. But that wasn’t the cartoonish concept of meetings where the manager throws himself on a table or throws equipment, yells and yells and threatens.
“No, it wasn’t,” he said. “The only time you’re loud to me is when you can’t see the level of effort, or the focus with the work and the focus. That has never been a problem with this team. is the case, then we’ll be loud. But that’s never been a problem. And I don’t expect it to be there. These guys are wired the right way. We’ve got a lot to play. I’ve said since day one, we’ll continue to get better as the season progresses. And we still have a lot of baseball ahead of us. “
Kikuchi was dominant from the first pitch, displaying an increased intensity that matched his trick. With his fastball hitting 99 km / h, especially in two-stroke counts, and his darting and sitting cutter at around 92 mph, he cut through the Rangers hitters.
He struck out the first 11 batters in a row with just one hard-hit ball. JP Crawford broke the string of strikeouts with a routine grounding ball pitch error, but Kikuchi calmly put out the next four batters to get a hit for five innings.
“Obviously I saw that in the fifth inning,” Kikuchi said through performer Kevin Ando. “But I tried not to let that affect me. I was just taking each hitter, focusing on each hitter I was up against, one hitter at a time.”
His teammates provided him with immediate race support. With two strikeouts in the first inning, Kyle Lewis made a left-field single from Texas starter Hyeon-Jong Yang and then scored on France’s brace in left field.
In the third inning, Lewis doubled up with an out and Seager dropped a broken bat single in right field just out of reach of a diver Joey Gallo and advanced alert to the second when Gallo threw past. the cutoff man towards the house. France led the two runners home with a single down the middle that made it 3-0.
Seager, who entered the game with just two hits in his previous 24 appearances at home plate, went 4-0 down the fifth when he hit a towering flying ball to the right field of Demarcus Evans who hit the target over the wall and walked out. of the reach of Gallo’s jump attempt.
Kikuchi lost his offer without a hit to the first batter in the sixth inning when Willie Calhoun’s ground ball on the right side came through the shift and just past a diver’s glove Jack Mayfield.
The Rangers finally broke through against Kikuchi in the seventh. He awarded a single to Nick Solak, then gave up a missile to a withdrawal from Gallo which landed in the midfield seats for a two-run homer.
Kikuchi faced two other hitters, dropping Khris Davis and walking Nate Lowe before being lifted with 104 pitches thrown. He received a standing ovation from the crowd of 11,198 people.
“I thought his level of intensity and level of competition was as good as we’ve seen,” Servais said.
The Mariners pushed Kikuchi to throw the ball with the intention of clearing the hitters away to the point of nastiness. They saw him on Sunday. They could actually hear it.
“Today’s intention with the material is probably as good as we’ve ever seen it,” Servais said. “I don’t know if you can hear it in the press box, but we can hear it on the pitch. He growls. And when he does that, he stops thinking and the ball jumps out of his hands. It’s electric. “
In his last six starts, he’s got a 2.77 ERA with 11 walks and 41 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched.
The Mariners reliever pen ended the remainder of the game without incident.
JT Chargois retired Brock Holt to finish seventh. Paul Sewald threw a scoreless eighth and Keynan Middleton only needed five shots to give up the heart of the Rangers Order in the ninth for his fourth stoppage of the season.
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