Oakland – It was a picture-perfect day in Northern California on Thursday, and it was time for the skies to fall straight on sailors on a brutal road trip.
Their best player came out during the first half with a tight lower back. The most consistent starting bowlers in the second period coughed five games and failed to get out in the third. A loss would sweep the last-place team and bring their post-season hopes closer to anxiety.
But in the final chapter of resilience in a season where it was a lot, Seattle bounced back from its ordeals, partial and marco, en route to a 9-5 win over the A’s.
Julio Rodriguez’s situation is uncertain after an aggravating injury kept him out for three games last weekend. George Kirby also left early, with one exit in the third game, but due to uncharacteristic struggles and not health. However, Thursday’s win exemplified the kind of attack the Mariners face when they are at their best, by creating consistent traffic and receiving contributions from players other than just Rodriguez.
“We have players who have done different things at different points in the season, but the strength is our team,” said coach Scott Service. “Saying that, he’s leaning on the guy next to you and trusting the guy behind you to pass the baton.”
Thursday was a shining example of Service Confirmation, which he initially shared.
Prior to Rodríguez’s exit, the rookie led the match with a double record of 109.1 mph and was one of six starting players to arrive in the first half, leading to three runs. Then, after Kirby struggled with driving and walked three times for only the second time in his professional career, Jared Kielnik returned with momentum for Seattle with a whopping 427-foot Homer in fourth.
But it was the three point in sixth that turned things around for good. Ty France made his first hat-trick in 2022 down the right streak, then Kelenic led him with a double hustle to the center field that tied the game. Next, Dylan Moore purposely walked and stole his 17th base line, making Adam Frazier’s double shot in two barely within a fair area below the third base line for two times of the green light.
Why did those moments stand out:
• Kelenic was at 3-0 and got the green light. So instead of spitting on a slider hanging in the middle from loyalist Kirby Snead, he let him rip and lead to a run.
“There’s a big situation,” Kielnik said. “[Snead] Kind of messing with me. I figured this would probably be the best stadium I would have ever had. So when I got the go-ahead, I looked for something above the heart of the plate, and I tried to stay in the middle, and that’s what happened.”
Moore is arguably the best starting player in Seattle other than Rodriguez and Sam Haggerty, and one of its most innate players. He noticed Snead’s long step toward the board and came to a stand. Both TV broadcasts didn’t even cut Moore’s run because it happened too fast, putting him in the scoring position for the next man to make a play.
“We were just trying to fight,” Frazier said. “Obviously, the past week or two has been tough, so the situation is big there. They walked the D-Mo way and then he stole a bag, so I knew they were going to come after me.”
• Frazier’s 0.236 hit rate doesn’t stand out, but his 87.4% touch rate (the second highest on the team) certainly does. So when he fell at the count 2-2 with two wins and the match tied, he made a protection and hit a slipway away from the board on the opposite field. The ball’s exit velocity was 61.2 mph and the probability of hitting 17%, but he would take it.
“Especially after swinging the 2-0 slider, I was like, ‘Okay. Just stay inside the ball, hit the ball in the other direction and do whatever I have to do. “That ball was off the board, but I’m glad I got it.”
As Servais stood on the hill when Kirby loosened on the third, he told the players that “this is going to be a crazy game”, due to the back-and-forth swings and the many bullfights that were to come. It was a formula genre not much different from the post-season game, with many moving parts — and just about every hitter cracked.
“You need one of those toys,” Service said. “Not by text. You mix and match.” How are we going to run the bulls game? Who will come to strike? All this stuff. You engage everyone and everyone feels a part of it, and then you move forward from there.”
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