Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Seattle Mariners
Sports >  Seattle Mariners

Mariners start season with walk-off walk over Giants after offense heats up late

UPDATED: Thu., April 1, 2021

Seattle Mariners' Taylor Trammell, left, greets Dylan Moore (25) at the plate after they scored during the eighth inning of the team's baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Seattle.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners' Taylor Trammell, left, greets Dylan Moore (25) at the plate after they scored during the eighth inning of the team's baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Seattle. (Associated Press)
By Ryan Divish Seattle TImes

SEATTLE – On a night when their ace pitcher, Marco Gonzales, just wasn’t his normal pinpoint self, issuing walks and giving up homers, the Mariners made sure to reward those 8,175 fans in attendance for the first sporting event in the Puget Sound to allow fans in 13 months with an improbable rally and an inning of free baseball to make up a little bit for what was lost.

Given all that transpired in the final few innings of the game, the actual end of the Mariners’ 8-7 win over the Giants was a little anti-climactic. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Giants reliever Jose Alvarez walked three straight hitters – Taylor Trammell, Dylan Moore and Jake Fraley – to force across the game-winning run, which was Evan White, who started the inning at second base per the modified extra innings rules for Major League Baseball.

Seattle wouldn’t have been in that position to win the game in the bottom of the inning if not for Mitch Haniger’s brilliant sliding catch in right field that ended the top of the inning and stranding the go-ahead run on third base.

But it a drew a roar and a standing ovation from the “sell-out” crowd that had largely been quiet for seven inning except for the one female fan intent on screaming “WOOOOOO!!!” after every pitch, which could be heard throughout the socially distant stadium and on the ROOT Sports broadcast.

It was a deserving outcome first crowd to watch a game at T-Mobile Park since Sept. 29, 2019, when a crowd of 16,819 watched a bad Mariners team, put together with no intention of success, closed out a worse season with a 3-1 win over the A’s to finish with a 68-94 record.

This current version of the Mariners should be better despite not garnering postseason predictions or expectations of snapping a 19-year playoff drought, and even their leadership often refers to the nebulous goal of “just getting better,” but many players, specifically Gonzales, bristle at such minimal hopes.

But it will take another solid season from Gonzales, who has established himself as the staff ace and pitching leader over the last two seasons.

After a getting an unexpectedly supbar outing from Gonzales and finding themselves down 6-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning while offering minimal expectation for a comeback based on prior at-bats in the game, the Mariners scored six runs in the eighth inning against a shaky Giants bullpen. Ty France started the scoring with a bloop single to center, Taylor Trammel later worked a bases-loaded walk to cut the lead to three runs. Dylan Moore followed with a double to right field to score two more and cut the lead to one.

The Giants looked like they might escape with a lead when pinch hitter Jose Marmolejos hit a routine groundball to first base with one out and runners on first and third. But first baseman Brandon Belt’s poor throw to second base to start what should’ve been an inning-ending double play couldn’t be caught by shortstop Brandon Crawford. It allowed two runs to score and gave Seattle a 7-6 lead.

That lead lasted all of one batter in the top of the ninth. Making his debut as Seattle’s closer, right-hander Rafael Montero made a costly mistake to the first batter he faced, pinch hitter Alex Dickerson. After quickly getting up 0-2, Montero left a changeup over the middle of the plate that Dickerson crushed over the wall in center to tie the game at 7.

Montero retired the next three hitters faced and gave the Mariners a chance to win it in regulation. But Giants’ closer Jake McGee worked a quick 1-2-3 inning to force extra innings.

When the first pitch of the Mariners’ 2021 season, an 87-mph sinker from Gonzales stayed just above the strike zone for a ball, it wasn’t anything noticeable. When Gonzales’ second pitch, also a sinker missed the zone in the same spot, it caused Seattle’s ace to pause before throwing pitch No. 3, which was also a ball. That cutter also missed above the zone.

A 3-0 count to any hitter, let alone the first hitter of the season, seemed so anti-Gonzales.

Gonzales’ first strike of the season came on pitch No. 4, right on the inside corner. But that only provide momentarily relief because the fifth pitch, another cutter, missed up in the zone for ball four and a walk.

A walk? From Gonzales? To the first batter of the season?

If you believe in baseball superstitions, this was not a good omen considering Gonzales faced 277 batters in 2020 and walked just seven. He faced one in 2021 and walked him.

And while that one walk didn’t lead to immediate disaster or even a run as Gonzales regrouped to strike out Michael Yastrzemski and coax an inning-double play ball from Donovan Solano, it was a precursor of issues – command and execution – that remained apparent for the rest of the night.

Gonzales pitched six innings, giving up five runs on eight hits with three walks (one intentional) with two strikeouts. Three of those hits were solo homers. In the small sample size of 11 starts last season, Gonzales never walked more than one batter in a game. The three homers – two solo shots in the second inning from Evan Longoria and Buster Posey and another from Austin Slater in the fifth inning – tied for the most he’s ever allowed in a game.

Montero retired the next three hitters faced and gave the Mariners a chance to win it in regulation. But Giants’ closer Jake McGee worked a quick 1-2-3 inning to force extra innings.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.