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Seattle Mariners

Mariners open critical 3-game series against Rangers with 3-2 win

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – A one-run win?

It’s the only way to start the most important series to date in this season.

The Mariners got solid starting pitching, lockdown bullpen work and just enough offense to take the first of a critical three-game series versus the Rangers with a 3-2 victory.

A crowd of 41,814, all standing in anxious anticipation, roared in approval when Ryne Stanek got Ezequiel Duran to ground out to Josh Rojas to end the game.

It looked like it might be another struggle against the Rangers for Seattle starter Luis Castillo.

The last time he had faced the defending World Series champions at T-Mobile Park was back on Sept. 30 of last season. With the Mariners postseason hopes fading, they needed him to deliver an outing befitting an ace. In front of a packed house, Castillo wasn’t even ordinary. He was hittable, giving up four runs on five hits with five walks and lasting 22/3 innings.

So when Nathaniel Lowe smashed a run-scoring double with two outs in the first inning and Wyatt Langford followed with a laser of a single to center to score Lowe for a two-run lead before the Mariners had even batted, well, the start to a cool Friday evening felt ominous.

But Castillo’s teammate picked him up, tying the game in the bottom of the first on a two-run homer from Mitch Garver.

Given a reset to his outing, Castillo made it count. He pitched the next five innings scoreless, allowing just one hit and helping the Mariners take the first game of the series.

The Mariners took the lead in the bottom of the third.

J.P. Crawford led off with a looping single to center. Mitch Haniger followed with a single to left-center to put runners on the corners.

Julio Rodriguez pushed across the go-ahead run with a rocket one-hop ground ball to second base. Marcus Semien gloved the 107-mph shot, but couldn’t make a play at home and only got a force out at second.

Hancock serves role

With the Mariners in need of a spot starter to allow them to re-slot the top of the starting rotation to pitch – with an extra day of rest – in a key weekend series versus the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park, Emerson Hancock provided something more than an appearance.

The rookie right-hander was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to start Thursday night versus the White Sox and delivered a winnable outing. He pitched a career-high seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits with two walks and one strikeout. It was his fourth quality start of the season.

His reward?

Minimal run support, a loss on his record and being optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma after the game. In the search for positives for Hancock, at least he didn’t have to fly to Round Rock to join the Rainiers for the next few days. Instead, he will work out in Tacoma and prepare for his start next week.

“I thought Emerson Hancock did an awesome job for us last night,” manager Scott Servais said before Friday’s game against the Rangers.

But since it was only a spot start, the Mariners used Hancock’s roster spot to re-add right-hander Cody Bolton to return the bullpen to the normal eight pitchers.

“We are back to a full bullpen now,” Servais said.