“The circuits are awesome.”
In a season where Mariners manager Scott Servais had made a number of comments that were turned into t-shirts, this simple statement, which he made days ago after their only victory in a frustrating series in Oakland, rang true for his team. Tuesday night.
And the 38,254 fans and unlisted number of dogs in attendance crammed into T-Mobile Park definitely felt the same way.
The Mariners rewarded the spirited crowd and starting pitcher Robbie Ray, who delivered a brilliant performance, with a pair of two-run homers from Mitch Haniger and Eugenio Suarez en route to a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals.
“On nights when you’re not able to hold rallies or create a lot of base traffic, you need a few guys to get over the fence,” Servais said. “Good teams find ways to win games differently almost every night. We’ve been able to do that here all season long. But the guys who hit him over the fence are pretty important in this game. And that’s why they get paid.
With the win, Seattle improved to 67-56 to keep pace with the Rays (67-55) and Blue Jays (66-55), who both won on Tuesday. Tampa Bay holds a half-game lead over Seattle and Toronto for the first joker.
The Mariners got an outstanding start from Ray, who flirted with a no-hitter in his 25e start of the season while pitching 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits with two walks and seven strikeouts to improve to 10-8.
“That’s what a good starting pitcher is,” Servais said. “It’s when your team has lost a few games and you take the ball and say, ‘it’s not going to happen tonight.’ And you go out and throw some zeros up there and give your offense a chance to kick in. That’s exactly what Robbie did tonight.
While each starter is important, the circumstances around each are different. Ray knew what his team needed.
“Of course it was a tough end to the road trip,” Ray said. “We felt like we let a couple escape there. I just came out today and just tried to put some zeros in and I knew the offense was going to break through. I felt like we swung the bat really well and some balls didn’t land on us. We were able to hit balls out of the park today which was great.
Seattle provided him with minimal running support during his time on the mound. Haniger homered for the second straight game, smashing a two-run homer to left field against Nationals starter Erick Fedde in the fourth inning.
After working a 2-0 tally, he looked for a fastball in his power zone, got it and didn’t miss.
“Mitch is so smart,” Servais said. “He’s really preparing. He’s a good player. We’ve missed him. He’s been out for a long, long time. It kind of changes the whole dynamic of our roster with him no matter where he hits him. People do look out for him and they should. He had a great year last year and we’re really happy to see him back.
He’s hit safely in 17 of 18 games since returning from the disabled list, batting .333 with one double, four home runs, nine RBIs, eight walks and 13 runs scored.
“I felt good the whole time,” he said. “It’s just about hitting the ball well. Sometimes we’re talking less than an inch or two between a line to an outfielder and a home run. You have to keep swinging (on) good pitches and try to hit the ball hard. That has always been the goal. It’s a simple objective, but throwers can sometimes make things difficult.
Ray struck out the first 10 batters he faced before walking Alex Call to start the fourth inning. He erased Call from the bases, taking him out with two outs.
He walked two out in the fifth inning, but struck out Riley Adams to end the inning.
The no-hitter bid, which probably should have been a combined no-hitter due to an increasing number of pitches, ended immediately in the seventh inning.
A 1-0 fastball grabbed just enough of the outside portion of the plate for rookie Joey Meneses to turn it into a deep ball over the wall in center field.
Not only did that end Ray’s no-hitter, but it also cut the Mariners’ lead to 2-1.
“I had fallen behind Meneses,” he said. “I just left a double seam in the middle of the plate. I felt like I should have gotten ahead and made a better cast beforehand, and then I didn’t execute both seams exactly how I wanted.
Ray came back to cross out Luke Voit and force Nelson Cruz out. But after Ray gave up an infield single to Lane Thomas on his 103rd pitch of the outing, Servais went to his paddock.
It meant a sleek new entrance with fire siren, lights turned off and the bullpen’s new moniker – Los Bomberos (The Firefighters) – flashing on the video board for Andres Munoz as he exited the bullpen. bullpen. Munoz lived up to the hype video, knocking out Cesar Hernandez to end the round.
The Mariners immediately salvaged that run and a much-needed cushion against former Mariners closer Steve Cishek late in the inning.
Carlos Santana threw a single into left field and Suarez called with his team-best 23rd homer – a 430ft missile with an exit velocity of 108mph that hit the electronic scoreboard out of town deep left center.
Erik Swanson worked a scoreless eighth while Paul Sewald gave up his first earned hit since July 26 – a 10-appearance streak – in the ninth inning. But he closed out the win.