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Seattle Mariners

Mariners move on after trades, beat Red Sox as Andres Munoz comes through

Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh hits a home run against the Boston Red Sox on Monday at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.  (Jennifer Buchanan/Seattle Times)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Following the oft-used adage of “the ball will find you,” the moment was going to find the Mariners and Andres Munoz in the late innings, Monday night at T-Mobile Park.

That’s the best part about baseball and the karma it provides, testing a player’s will and a team’s conviction.

About four hours before George Kirby’s first pitch was fired against the Boston Red Sox, the Mariners finalized a trade that sent veteran reliever Paul Sewald, who handled most of the ninth-inning situations, to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for three players.

In his pregame media session, Mariners manager Scott Servais listed off pitchers who might take over Sewald’s role, mentioning they would play the matchups and not have a true closer.

But really, everyone in attendance, and even those who have watched the Mariners over the past two seasons, knew that the responsibility would fall on the broad and square shoulders of Munoz.

And the baseball gods made sure that the Mariners were put into a precarious position.

Clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the eighth inning with two outs and runners on first and second, the “save” situation was happening an inning early.

Servais called on Munoz to face Alex Verdugo for the final out and then get three more in the ninth.

Showing no signs of his struggles on the previous trip, Munoz outlasted Verdugo, striking him out swinging on a nasty slider, much to the delight of the 32,665 in attendance.

As for that save situation, well, the Mariners flipped the script on the obvious storyline, scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth and removing the save situation and potential for any high-leverage drama in what would be a 6-2 victory.

Of course, baseball wouldn’t let it be that easy. With Isaiah Campbell pitching in the ninth with a 6-1 lead, the Red Sox scored a run and put pair of runners on base with two outs. They were a ball or a hit away from the tying run stepping into the batter’s box in the form of All-Star Rafael Devers.

But J.P. Crawford made a lunging, tumbling grab of a rocket line drive off the bat of Masataka Yoshida to end the game.

With the win, the Mariners improved to 55-51 on the season. It’s the first time they have been four games over .500 this season. Seattle now has the same record as the Yankees and sit a half-game back of the Angels (55-51). They are 3.5 games back of the third wild-card spot.

George Kirby gave the Mariners a pitch-filled, five-inning outing that didn’t have a single 1-2-3 inning. He allowed one earned run on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

He threw a whopping 97 pitches in those five innings with 63 strikes, which featured 12 whiffs, 12 called strikes, 12 balls in play and a whopping 27 foul balls, including 14 on his four-seam fastball.

His lone run allowed came in the first inning that was anything but normal.

Facing Red Sox leadoff hitter Jarren Duran, Kirby got up 0-2 on his first two pitches of the game. But six pitches later Duran was jogging to first base after starting the game with a walk.

Then things turned ugly, as Duran stole second and scored on two throwing errors.

Cal Raleigh tied the game in the second inning, hitting a towering solo homer to right field off Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta.

Raleigh got to Pivetta again in the seventh inning, crushing another solo homer to right field for a 2-1 lead. The multihomer game gave Raleigh 16 homers on the season.