SEATTLE – For a night, everything looked and worked as planned.
Robbie Ray was striking out batters, putting up scoreless innings and flirting with a no-hitter. The Mariners’ offense was aggressive in the batter’s box and on the bases, getting runners on base and hitting the ball with authority to drive them in. All while an announced crowd of 37,500 at T-Mobile Park shrugged off sub-60 degree temperatures to revel in the experience quality baseball.
In their 8-1 drubbing of the Angels, the Mariners offered a decisive one-game reminder of what they were supposed to be, what they still can be and what they need to be moving forward to try reach their stated goal of ending a postseason drought.
Obviously, the lopsided nature of the victory isn’t expected each night. And the opposing team’s starting pitcher – Michael Lorenzen isn’t quite Shohei Ohtani – and the opposing lineup – the Angels sat Ohtani and Jared Walsh – will play into it. But the Mariners’ overall execution can be replicated.
It also helps when your starting pitcher offers one of his most dominant performances in a string of them.
With the in-season addition of a sinking two-seam fastball to his repertoire to offer a different look to batters, Ray is returning to the level of performance that carried him to the 2021 American League Cy Young Award and motivated the Mariners to sign him to a five-year, $115 million contract this past offseason.
Given more run support in the first four innings – a 7-0 lead – than he and his fellow starters have received in a week, Ray carried a no-hitter into the seventh in dominating fashion.
Over the first six innings, the hard-grunting lefty allowed just two hitters to reach base – walking Mike Trout in the first and hitting Luis Rengifo with a pitch with two outs. After getting Max Stassi to ground out to third to avoid any damage, Ray retired the next 15 batters.
He went into the seventh having not allowed a hit.
After retiring Matt Duffy and Rengifo on groundouts, Stassi came to the plate. Ray fell behind 2-0 and came back with a perfect slider. His 2-1 sinker to Stassi produced a high-hopping chopper off the dirt in front of the plate.
Ray tried to make a leaping grab of the ball, but mistimed his jump a little. The ball bounced off his mitt and died in the grass behind the mound. There was no play. The official scorer correctly ruled it a hit.
With the Mariners in a shift to the left side of the infield, Ray was the only person who could’ve made the play. Even if the ball hadn’t touch his glove, it’s still likely a hit with Stassi hustling to first base.
He closed out the seventh and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
With a doubleheader on Saturday, Ray went back out for the eighth inning, trying to steal another scoreless frame. But a leadoff triple off the bat of Juan Lagares and Andrew Velazquez’s bloop double to right field ending his outing.
The Mariners jumped on Lorenzen immediately.
They grabbed a run in the first on Eugenio Suarez’s RBI single to left. They tacked on another run in the second when Cal Raleigh hit his eighth homer of the season – a flyball just over the wall in right field to make it 2-0.
Julio Rodriguez, who had three hits on the night, made it 3-0 with ringing RBI single to center in the third inning that registered a 115-mph exit velocity.
The Mariners broke the game open in fourth game. Jesse Winker worked a leadoff walk and Adam Frazier dumped a one-out single into left field. After Raleigh flew out to left field, Taylor Trammell worked another walk in the inning to load the bases with two outs.
With Lorenzen scuffling, J.P. Crawford didn’t try to force the action, instead settling for a bases-loaded walk that pushed a run across to make it 4-0.
After not playing in Thursday’s loss – his first day off this season – a refreshed France showed why he’s been the team’s most productive hitter. He yanked a low sinker from Lorenzen into the left field corner for a bases-clearing three-run double and a 7-0 Mariners lead.
France leads the Mariners with 44 runs batted in.
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