SEATTLE — The Mariners didn’t let the sting of a weekend sweep linger into a case of the Mondays, overcoming an early deficit then hanging on to a 4-3 win over Texas despite flirting with a late cave.
It was a victory manufactured by smart baserunning, insane defensive plays, Chris Flexen regaining consistency and the bullpen picking up Diego Castillo on a night when he was on the cusp of a collapse. Put simply, the Mariners found a way to win a tight game, an attribute that eluded them for a chunk of the first half before they turned things around a month ago.
“It really ends up defining your season, finding ways to win games like tonight,” manager Scott Servais said after Monday’s victory. “It wasn’t pretty. Offensively, I didn’t think we did a whole lot to get excited about, but you find a way. It was good pitching, locking it down, making good plays defensively and taking advantage and opportunities out there.”
• Servais replaced Castillo with Erik Swanson with one out in the ninth when it was clear that Castillo didn’t have command of his slider. Yet, despite laboring — including a leadoff homer to Nathaniel Lowe and a four-pitch walk to Kole Calhoun that put the go-ahead run on first base — Castillo came back to strike out Ezequiel Duran.
“Obviously, the first three hitters, it wasn’t pretty,” Servais said. “But that’s a huge out to get. It’s not your night, you’ve got to struggle through it. But he didn’t back off and he made pitches to get the big out, and then Swanny picking him up after that was huge.”
• J.P. Crawford and Cal Raleigh put together arguably their best caught-stealing sequence for both its athletic feat and the clutch of ending the top of the eighth. With speedster Adolis García sprinting 29.7 feet per second (30-plus is considered elite), Raleigh fired an 81.7 mph strike with a 1.95 pop time (anything below 2.00 is above average) to Crawford, who picked the one-hopper and applied the tag after García had blown by him.
“We don’t win that game without that play,” said Ty France, who went 3-for-3 with his 13th homer. “That was huge for us.”
• Eugenio Suárez had some self depreciation when tumbling into home for a go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the fourth, joking that he was “the Usain Bolt” of the team. It was a clunkier head-first slide, yet the bigger takeaway was that he capitalized with his aggressive move on a ball that didn’t go to the backstop but instead rolled in front of the plate and set up a close play.
“Getting to see the slide, his face, his hair — so majestic,” France said. “A beautiful, beautiful human being.”
• Just prior, France scored easily on an RBI single by Raleigh. But he was only in position by going first-to-third on a broken-bat single by Suárez that blooped into shallow right-center. France joked that he looked like a lumbering fullback — the football position he played in high school — but the heads-up play proved critical.
• Flexen put up his 11th straight start in which he surrendered three runs or fewer, with just two allowed over six innings. After an inconsistent April and May, Flexen has looked more like his self from 2021, when he was the team’s pitcher of the year. As Servais said: “He’s just always going to keep you in the game. And I appreciate that. I think every manager appreciates those types of guys.”
Julio Rodríguez’s absence loomed large during a weekend sweep against Houston, but Servais is “very, very optimistic” that the dynamic rookie will be back Tuesday. The Mariners have been lacking his game-changing presence, particularly his run-producing power, but their methodical and aggressive formula on Monday was the right recipe to win without their best player.
“You do need to find a way to win these games,” Servais said. “And we have, for the most part. There were a few that slipped away earlier in the season, but the confidence this club has right now is when we’re in those games, we feel like we’re going to win them.”