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Sports >  MLB

Mariners snap out of funk long enough to beat Rangers, lower magic number to 3

Sept. 28, 2022 Updated Wed., Sept. 28, 2022 at 9:59 p.m.

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Maybe it was the “show-and-go” philosophy of their Little League days that helped them remember that baseball is supposed to be fun.

Maybe it was the calming presence of 1,089 dogs in attendance for the last “bark in the park” night of the season. The Mariners are largely dog folks and those hounds provided some emotional support with their random barks and yelps heard in the crowd of 21,803 humans.

Really, it was the Mariners remembering how to play the level of baseball that has put them into position to end a postseason drought that’s old enough to drink.

The Mariners got a solid starting pitching effort from rookie right-hander George Kirby, lockdown work from the bullpen and just enough offense, led by Eugenio Suarez’s three hits, to grind out a 3-1 victory over the Rangers.

Having lost eight of their past 11 games coming into Wednesday night, the much-needed win came on an evening in which the Blue Jays, Rays and, most important, the Orioles, all lost. It’s doubtful they all followed teammate Robbie Ray’s advice to avoid looking at the out-of-town scoreboard during the game. Toronto (87-69) was blown out 8-3 by the Yankees while the Rays (85-70) lost 2-1 to Cleveland in extra innings. And the Orioles (80-75), were beaten 3-1 by the Red Sox.

With the win over Texas and Baltimore’s loss, the Mariners’ magic number for clinching their first postseason spot since 2001 is down to three games, meaning any combination of Mariners wins and Orioles losses to reach three gets it done. That celebration could come as early as Friday night.

Kirby pitched six innings, allowing one run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts to improve to 8-4 on the season. It was a solid bounce-back performance after enduring his worst start of his season in his previous outing, lasting just 2⅓ innings and giving up five runs in a loss to the A’s.

His only run allowed came in the first inning when new Rangers nemesis Josh Jung, who drove in all five runs in Texas’ 5-0 win over the Mariners on Tuesday night, singled home a run.

But the Mariners answered immediately in the bottom of the inning.

Dylan Moore led off with a walk and Ty France followed with a single off Rangers starter Martin Perez to bring Suarez to the plate. After looking out of sync in his return from the injured list on Tuesday, Suarez smashed a double over the head of center fielder Bubba Thompson to score Moore. France tagged up and scored moments later on Mitch Haniger’s line out to center field.

The Mariners tacked on a third run in the third. Carlos Santana’s ground out to short with the bases loaded allowed France to score.

That was the last of the run support from the offense.

But Kirby, who worked around some hard contact in the second and third innings, and the bullpen made it stand up.

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