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Sports >  Seattle Mariners

Mariners back in the winners’ circle again, top A’s 4-3 with a chance to sweep road series

UPDATED: Tue., May 25, 2021

Seattle Mariners pitcher Paul Sewald delivers a pitch to an Oakland Athletics batter during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Oakland, Calif.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners pitcher Paul Sewald delivers a pitch to an Oakland Athletics batter during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Oakland, Calif. (Associated Press)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

From a six-game losing streak and being swept in San Diego to a series victory on the road over the Oakland A’s, the first-place team in the American League West, with a chance for a series sweep Wednesday afternoon.

These Mariners are a little schizophrenic in their results.

Rafael Montero continued his season-long impersonation of Fernando Rodney. With the Mariners’ bullpen missing three key relievers, including closer/best pitcher Kendall Graveman, Montero, who was Seattle’s closer for about a week, came on to protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. After getting two quick outs, he allowed back-to-back singles to put the tying and winning run on base.

But he calmly got up 0-2 on Seth Brown and coaxed an easy ground ball back to the mound. Instead of throwing it to first base, Montero, not wanting to test his wandering command, ran the ball over and tagged first base himself to finish a 4-3 Mariners’ victory.

That he got a chance for the save was all due to Mitch Haniger. The Mariners’ best player in 2021 added to the reasons why by running down a deep fly ball in right field to make a fantastic grab to end an eighth inning that seemed destined to doom Seattle.

Seattle got a solid, but shorter than desired start from rookie Logan Gilbert as he continues to adjust to life at baseball’s highest level.

Gilbert pitched four innings, giving up two runs on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He threw 78 pitches with 51 strikes. But more importantly, he threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of the 17 batters he faced. He also generated swings-and-misses on five pitches and had just three balls with exit velocities of more than 90 mph.

Seattle provided him a 2-0 lead in the first inning. With two outs and runners on second and third, Ty France drove in the first run with an infield single. J.P. Crawford notched his first of three hits in the game, sending a crisp single to center to drive in the second run.

After a quick 1-2-3 first inning, Gilbert found trouble in the second. He allowed back-to-back doubles to Matt Olson and Jed Lowrie on 95 mph fastballs to start the inning. He retired the next two batters but couldn’t put away Tony Kemp after getting up 0-2. Kemp fouled off three pitches and then pulled a single into right on a fastball to tie the game at 2-2.

In a sign of his growing comfort level, Gilbert came back to retire Mark Canha to end the inning. He bounced back with scoreless frames in the third and the fourth – allowing just one base runner on a hit by pitch.

All that allowed his teammates to retake the lead in the fourth. Crawford led off with a double and scored easily on Tom Murphy’s double off the wall that missed being a homer by about a foot. Murphy later scored on a laser single to right field off the bat of Jarred Kelenic that made it 4-2.

With the Mariners wanting to control Gilbert’s pitch count and usage early in the season and also wanting him to leave the game on a positive note by avoiding the top of the order for the third time, they went to the bullpen in the fifth inning.

Right-hander Paul Sewald pitched two scoreless innings, including striking out the side in the sixth.

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