Mariners put on nine runs in the final against A’s

Mariners put on nine runs in the final against A’s

OAKLAND — It was a perfect day in Northern California on Thursday, ripe for the sky falling straight on the Mariners in what was a brutal road trip.

Their best player went out during the first inning with lower back strains. Their most consistent starting pitcher in the second half coughed up five runs and didn’t make it out of the third. A loss would give a last-place team a win and put their postseason hopes closer to concern.

But in the final chapter of resilience in a season that had plenty, Seattle bounced back from their adversity, both Mikro and Marco en route to a 9-5 win over the A’s.

Julio Rodríguez’s status is uncertain after picking up an injury that saw him sidelined for three games last weekend. George Kirby also went out early, with an out in the third inning, but on uncharacteristic struggles rather than health. But Thursday’s win embodied the kind of offense the Mariners have when they’re at their best, generating consistent traffic and receiving input from players other than Rodríguez.

“We have guys who have done different things at different points in the season but the strength is our team,” said manager Scott Servais. “When you say that, you lean on the guy next to you and trust the guy behind you to pass the baton.”

Thursday was a prime example of Servais’ claim, which he shared ahead of the game.

Before Rodríguez got out, the rookie led the game at a double of 109.1 mph and was one of six baserunners hit in the first inning, resulting in three runs. Then, after Kirby worked with command and walked three steps for the second time in his pro career, Jarred Kelenic returned in Seattle’s favor with a massive 427-foot solo homer in the fourth swing.

But it was the three-pointer in sixth place that turned things around for the better. Ty France led down the right field line with his first treble of 2022, then Kelenic propelled him into midfield with a quick double that leveled the game. Dylan Moore was then hit on foot on purpose and stole his 17th base, enabling Adam Frazier to chip a two-run double just inside fair territory along the third base line for two go-ahead runs.

Why these moments stood out:

• Kelenic made it 3-0 and got the green light. So instead of spitting on a hanging middle-in slider from Reliever Kirby Snead, he banged it and it resulted in a run.

“Big situation there,” said Kelenic. “[Snead] was kind of just confusing with me. I figured that was probably going to be the best pitch I was going to get in this whole fight. When I got the green light, I looked for something above the heart of the plate, trying to stay in the middle, and that’s what happened.”

• Aside from Rodríguez and Sam Haggerty, Moore is arguably Seattle’s best baserunner and one of its more instinctive players. He noticed Snead’s long stride to the plate and stood up. Both television broadcasts didn’t even cut to Moore, who was running because it was happening so quickly, and it put him in goal position for the next man to make a play.

“We were just trying to fight,” Frazier said. “Obviously it’s been a grind for the last week or two, so a big situation right there. They went D-Mo and then he stole a bag so I knew they would be after me.”

• Frazier’s .236 batting average doesn’t stand out, but his 87.4% contact rate (the second-highest on the team) certainly does. So when he fell into a 2-2 count with two outs and the game was tied, he protected and hit a slider wide of the plate into opposite court. The ball only had an exit speed of 61.2mph and a 17% hit probability, but he’ll take it.

“Especially after tackling a 2-0 pusher, I was like, ‘Okay. Just stay in the ball, hit the ball the other way and do whatever I have to do,” Frazier said. “The ball was off the plate but I’m glad I got there.”

Standing on the mound as he replaced Kirby in the third game, Servais told the infielders that “this is going to be a crazy game” because of the back-and-forth moves and the many bullpen matchups that were ahead. It was the kind of formula that wasn’t all that different from a postseason game, with so many moving parts — and almost every batsman played along.

“You kind of need one of those games,” Servais said. “It’s not in the script. You mix and match. “How are we going to run the bullpen? Who will come in to strike?’ All of those things. You involve everyone and everyone feels a part of it, and it just goes from there.”