The Mariners were fresh off a series loss to the Oakland Athletics and staring down the barrel of a loaded gun in a home series versus the Houston Astros. With the lowest expectations they’ve had this season, Chris Flexen took the mound in game one to kick off one of the most impressive series wins we have seen out of the team.
Flexen threw seven strong innings, allowing just one run and striking out six. Meanwhile, future hall-of-famer Justin Verlander was not having the same success against the Seattle offense. Over his six innings, the Mariners would hit four home runs off of him:
- Julio Rodriguez and Kyle Lewis in the first.
- Ty France in the third.
- Taylor Trammell in the sixth.
It was just the third time in his career that Verlander had allowed four home runs in a game, and the Mariners would go on to take a commanding 6-1 victory in the series opener.
In the midst of a breakout campaign, it was Logan Gilbert who started the second game, and he put together an even better performance than Flexen before him. He went seven complete innings for the third consecutive start, allowing no runs whatsoever. The story of the offense was quite similar as well. Jose Urquidy appeared in five innings for the Astros that game, and the Mariners scored in four of them. All nine members of the starting lineup managed hits and Lewis hit his second home run in as many games. The 6-0 victory secured the series win.
With a chance to secure a series sweep, Marco Gonzales became the first Mariner starter to appear in the eighth inning this year. He ended up throwing 7.1 strong innings, allowing just two runs. However, the Mariners only managed one run off opposing starter Luis Garcia and ended up dropping the game 2-1. A series win against the Astros is always a success, and the goal was to transition this momentum into a three-game series in Baltimore against the Orioles.
Zac Lowther made his season debut in the first game as an emergency starter after the Mariners scored three runs off Bryan Baker in the first four outs of the game. Lowther very much continued the trend, getting battered around by the Seattle offense for two more innings. The score was 8-0 through three. To Lowther’s credit, he calmed down and the deficit stayed put until the Mariners tacked on one more in the seventh. Meanwhile, George Kirby threw six scoreless innings against the Orioles, striking out eight with only one walk. The 10-0 win was utterly dominant, and the Mariners had now only allowed three runs in their last four games.
It was Robbie Ray’s turn in the rotation for game two, who would end the streak of pitching excellence. Allowing four runs in five innings, the Mariner offense could only muster up two runs of support. Sergio Romo added insult to injury by relieving Ray in the sixth and giving up five more runs of his own. The Orioles would win 9-2 and let the series be decided by their third and final game.
The Mariners were granted a reprieve from the one-sided affairs in the rubber match of the series, as Flexen once again took the mound. He struggled early but settled in for a while before exiting the game after five innings, allowing three runs. Meanwhile, opposing starter Jordan Lyles came back out for the sixth after allowing three runners. They would all score, giving Lyles a final line of allowing five runs in five innings. The Mariners tacked on one more, giving themselves a 6-3 lead going into the bottom of the sixth.
Following recent trends, the Mariner bullpen struggled again. Matthew Festa came in to replace Flexen, allowing a run and two runners before he was pulled. Paul Sewald allowed those runners to score, giving Festa an official line of allowing three runs in less than an inning. After six, it was tied 3-3. Scoreless seventh. Scoreless eighth. Scoreless ninth. We’re in extra innings, with the automatic runner on third and two outs. Abraham Toro finds a high sinker and slams it dead center for an RBI triple to take a 7-6 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Diego Castillo sets down all three batters to cap off a perfect two-inning performance to seal the win.
The Mariners took both series this week! Their road trip will finish with three against the Texas Rangers, and three more against the Astros once again. Satisfying week to be a Mariner fan.