After losing seven of nine in their east coast road trip before getting swept at home again by the Houston Astros, things were looking bleak for the Seattle Mariners. It’s a long season, but it always feels longer when you’re watching your favorite team get pummeled into the dirt.
The Tampa Bay Rays came to town again for a four-game series, roughly a week removed from when they took two of three from the Mariners in Tampa. Robbie Ray took the mound for the opener on May 5, allowing four runs in 6.2 innings. Seattle couldn’t quite make up for the deficit, putting across three runs thanks to home runs by Jesse Winker and Adam Frazier. While it was incredible to witness both of their first home runs for Seattle, it was still inevitably a 4-3 loss.
The following day, Mariner and Ray fans alike were treated to a thriller as the Rays led 5-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth. Julio Rodriguez continued to heat up, reaching on a single and giving way to the struggling Jarred Kelenic. Stepping in to pinch hit for Dylan Moore, Kelenic went yard for his second homer of the season, giving the Mariners the lead. Paul Sewald took the mound in the ninth having not allowed a baserunner on the season, before giving up two hits with one out. Manuel Margot stepped up to the plate, launching a three-run bomb and re-taking the lead for the Rays. Now down 8-6, Eugenio Suarez opened the bottom of the ninth with a home run before the next three went down quietly. The Mariners lost, but it was easy to feel optimistic since such a bad outing for Sewald was one in a million, and a Kelenic homer always lifts everyone’s spirits.
More tragedy befell the Mariners in game three, as Diego Castillo allowed five runs in the eighth inning to cap off an 8-2 loss. All eyes were on Margot, who answered his three-run homer the night before with a grand slam in this game for his second home run in as many games. Mariner fans were quick to move on, because the next day would feature the first career Major League start for Seattle’s George Kirby on Mother’s Day. The kid put together one of the best pitching debuts in franchise history, becoming the first Mariner to throw six scoreless innings in his debut. Additionally, his seven strikeouts matched the franchise lead for a pitcher’s debut. It was nothing short of dominant, but the Mariners’ inability to push runs across forced the game into extra innings, tied at 1-1. Sewald came through with a scoreless inning, allowing Ty France to walk the Rays off with a deep single to left field, avoiding the sweep. The Mariners remain undefeated in extra innings, going 2-0.
The hard-hitting Philadelphia Phillies came to town to finish the road trip, and that might honestly be an understatement. They slaughtered the Mariners 9-0 in the first game, hitting Chris Flexen to the tune of six runs in five innings. Rodriguez went 3-4 on the day, but the M’s only managed one hit outside of that in the shutout. They responded well in game two, with Ray notching a season-high 10 strikeouts over 5.2 innings, allowing just two runs. Meanwhile, the offense was all over the baseball, snagging 11 base hits, 10 of them singles. The Mariners won 5-4, but it did not feel remotely that close.
Of course, Seattle continued their recent trend and failed to piece together a win streak. The Phillies knocked Logan Gilbert around for four runs in the fourth inning, which was all the offense they needed. The Mariners mustered eight hits, but only two runs as they lost the series. Gilbert struck out a season-high nine batters and Penn Murfee continued his scoreless streak in his rookie season, but consolation prizes rarely matter.
Alas, time marches on and will give us no time to mourn. After a day off, the Mariners hit the road again for a 10-game road trip featuring the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. If you thought they were struggling against these recent opponents…