SEATTLE – On what might be the last warm evening for months, before the rain and cold of fall dig into the Puget Sound area and the only baseball will be watched on television, the Seattle Mariners offered one last glance of what they were in the first months of the 2018 season.
But their performance on Saturday night also served as disappointing reminder of what they failed to be in the key months of July and August when they had an 11-game lead and were working toward their first playoff appearance since 2001, which was erased by the Oakland A’s.
With a crowd of 31,780 packed into Safeco Field, the Mariners got a solid start from their best starting pitcher, a fair amount off offense in support and shutout work from the back of their bullpen, including save No. 57 for Edwin Diaz in a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.
The ninth inning provided more drama than necessary when Dee Gordon, who had started the game in center field, booted a routine ground ball that should have been the third out of the inning. The Rangers loaded the bases, but Diaz came back to strike out Jurickson Profar to end the inning.
Seattle improved to 88-73, which ties the 2007 club for sixth-most victories in a season in franchise history. The Mariners will close out another season without the playoffs on Sunday afternoon with lefty Roenis Elias taking the mound.
Making his final start of the season, Mariners lefty James Paxton delivered a strong outing, but didn’t figure in the decision. Paxton pitched six innings, allowing just one run on seven hits with one walk and nine strikeouts.
The one run allowed came in the first inning when Adrian Beltre laced a two-out double off the wall in right-center to score Rougned Odor.
Paxton made 28 starts, posting an 11-6 record with a 3.76 ERA. He pitched 161 1/3 innings, striking out 208 batters and walking just 42. The starts, strikeouts and innings pitched were career highs for Paxton.
While there has often been much lament about Paxton’s proclivity for being injured, he did stay relatively healthy save for a few fluke incidents.
His only stint on the disabled list came after taking a 95-mph line drive off his left forearm on Aug. 14. He returned to the rotation on Aug. 31. A bout with a combination of influenza and pneumonia shut him down for 10 days in September when the Mariners were out of the playoff race.
His goal is to reach 30-plus starts and 200 innings in 2019.
The broken toe brothers of Kyle Seager and Gordon broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh. Seager, who has broken left big toe, led off with a double to left-center. With two outs, Gordon, who has a broken right big toe, tripled into the right field corner to give Seattle a 2-1 lead.
The Mariners tacked on two more runs as Jean Segura, who was benched for not hustling on Friday night, notched his third hit of the night – a RBI single that scored Gordon. Robinson Cano added a RBI single to right off of tough lefty Alex Claudio to score Mitch Haniger.
With a 4-1 lead, right-hander Alex Colome worked a scoreless eighth and Diaz, pitching in a save situation for the first time in 10 days, worked a scoreless ninth to add to his MLB-leading save total.
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