BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 07/24/2017

Mariners Week: A great start, but a sour finish

The Mariners took two of three at AL-leading Houston, then dropped three of four at home to the Yankees, the 13th series win in the past 15 series for New York at Safeco.

James Paxton won his fourth consecutive start Wednesday as the Mariners took a series, 2-1, at Houston. / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest file

The Mariners followed a 5-1 road trip through Chicago (3-0 sweep) and AL West leader Houston (2-1) Wednesday looking as if they were on the verge of making a playoff move. Wrong. Seattle dropped three of four to the New York Yankees at Safeco Field, including Sunday’s 6-4 setback (box), in which the locals erased a 3-0 deficit with a four-run fourth but couldn’t hold it.

Even with the week-long wheel-spinning, the Mariners (17 games back of Houston in the AL West) ended only 2½ games in arrears in the wild card race.

The Week

Monday (Mariners 9, Astros 7): The Mariners tied a season high with four home runs, including back-to-back shots by Kyle Seager and Danny Valencia in the 10th inning. Mike Zunino and Nelson Cruz also homered for Seattle (47-47), which won its fifth in a row.

Tuesday (Astros 6, Mariners 2): The Astros’ Evan Gattis homered twice to back a solid start by Brad Peacock (three hits, one run, nine K’s).

Wednesday (Mariners 4, Astros 1): James Paxton (9-3) allowed six hits and one run in seven innings and Ben Gamel belted a two-run homer. Paxton’s win was his fourth in a row. He also improved to 2-0, 0.45 in three starts against Houston.

Thursday (Yankees 4, Mariners 1): Luis Severino pitched out of trouble to throw seven shutout innings, Brett Gardner hit a solo home run off Felix Hernandez, and the Yankees tallied three unearned runs late. Other than the mistake to Gardner, Hernandez had his best outing of the season, striking out nine while pitching seven innings for the second time.

Friday (Yankees 5, Mariners 1): Aaron Judge hit a colossal three-run homer off Andrew Moore that nearly soared out of Safeco Field and CC Sabathia won on his 37th birthday. Judge’s shot to left in the fifth landed three throws from the top of the stadium. The measurement was said to be 440 feet, but was widely disputed because the device lost track due to the ball’s elevation.

Saturday, July 22 (Mariners 6, Yankees 5): Gamel, who began his career with New York, homered early, doubled and scored on Cruz’s 10th-inning, walk-off single. Another former Yankee, Robinson Cano, set up Cruz and Gamel by homering in the eighth to put the Mariners up 5-4.

Sunday (Yankees 6, Mariners 4): Didi Gregorius hit two solo home runs, both on 0-1 pitches from Yovani Gallardo, as the Yankees, who led 3-0 early and then trailed 4-3, rallied to win a series (3-1) for the first time in six weeks. Seattle reached the 100-game mark at 49-51, two games worse than 2016.

Takeaways

Sudden jinx: Since June 24, when the Mariners lost to Houston 5-2, they are 3-12 at their home ballpark. That includes Sunday’s loss. In their first 37 home games, the Mariners won 25. Seattle has not won a home series since sweeping Detroit June 22.

The Mariners have made the playoffs four times in 40 seasons and never got there without a winning record — however slim — at the 100-game mark: 51-49 in 1995, 56-44 in 1997, 58-42 in 2000 and 72-28 in 2001. Seattle is 49-51. Last year, the Mariners were 51-49.

Innings of the week

Astros 9th Monday: Josh Reddick stood on second with no outs when SS Jean Segura backhanded a grounder by Marwin Gonzalez and threw him out from one knee. Segura then threw out Reddick out at home on a fielder’s choice grounder. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Segura had another backhanded grab on a grounder by Alex Bregman and tossed it to second for the force to send the game into extra innings.

Mariners 4th Wednesday: With Houston leading 1-0, Segura led off with a single and Gamel followed with his first home run since June 23, giving Seattle a 2-1 lead.

Mariners 4th Thursday: Seattle placed runners at the corners with no outs, but couldn’t score. The Mariners went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Mariners 3rd Saturday: Seattle produced its best inning of the week, tallying four times on solo home runs by Zunino and Gamel and run-scoring singles by Danny Valencia and Mitch Haniger.

Mariners 4th Sunday: With New York leading 3-0, Seattle loaded the bases with no outs, but Seager fanned and Haniger fouled out. Gamel drove in two runs with an infield single and Guillermo Heredia doubled in two more.

Good week / bad week

Good: Paxton’s win featured seven strikeouts and one walk over seven innings . . . Gamel went 1-for-4 Sunday, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. In the series with New York, Gamel went 6-for-18 (.333). Bad: Moore allowed five earned runs on nine hits in six innings as his ERA jumped to 5.70. He also surrendered perhaps the longest home run in Safeco history to Judge. In his first 30 innings in the majors, Moore has allowed nine home runs . . . Segura entered the week with the American League’s top batting average, .349, and ended it at .328 after going 1-for-19 against the Yankees.

Not in the box score

  • When the Mariners rallied in Houston Monday, it marked their fourth consecutive victory after falling behind. According to club research, the only longer winning streaks after falling behind were a six-game run from Sept. 21-26, 1980 and a five-game run from Aug. 27-31, 2004.
  • Cruz’s 20th homer tied Monday’s game at Houston in the seventh inning and made for his ninth consecutive 20-homer year. Only two other players hit 20 homers in the previous eight seasons: David Ortiz (15 consecutive seasons, 2002 to 2016) and Brian McCann (11).
  • Seattle’s 5-1 road trip was the sixth road trip since 2008 that the Mariners had an .833 winning percentage on a trip of six or more games. The Mariners had two in 2016, going 6-0 from Sept. 9-14 (at Oakland and Anaheim) and 5-1 from May 17-22 (at Baltimore and Cincinnati).
  • When Seager collected his 200th career double Tuesday, he joined eight others who produced 200 or more with the Mariners: Edgar Martnez (514), Ken Griffey Jr. (341), Ichiro (295), Jay Buhner (231), Raul Ibanez (216), Alvin Davis (212), Dan Wilson (207) and Harold Reynolds (200).
  • In three starts against the Astros this year, Paxton has allowed one run in 20 innings with a 0.45 ERA, the lowest any pitcher has against any opponent this season (minimum three starts). According to Elias. the last pitcher with three consecutive starts of six or more innings and one or fewer run allowed against Houston in a single season was the Cubs’ Travis Wood in 2012.
  • With nine strikeouts Thursday vs. New York, Hernandez pushed his career total to 2,324, surpassing Rube Waddell for 48th on the all-time list.
  • With his win Friday for New York, Sabathia improved his record at Safeco Field to 10-1 (.909) in 14 starts. Only one active visiting pitcher has a higher winning percentage at Safeco with at least 10 decisions: Bartolo Colon is 13–1 (.929).
  • Cruz’s 10th-inning single off Adam Warren Saturday that sent Gamel home with the winning run marked the 10th walk-off hit of Cruz’s career and his fourth for the Mariners.
  • When David Phelps made his debut Saturday, he became the 32nd pitcher used by Seattle this season. That tied the club record for most pitchers used in a season (also 2016).

Words

“The defense Jean threw out there was unbelievable. The backhand stop, that was the key out. Then the play at home, then another backhand force play. There was a lot going on that inning.” – Manager Scott Servais on Segura’s three plays in a row Monday

“I didn’t even know about that. But that’s obviously something that is pretty good and hopefully I can keep adding to that.” – Seager on his 200th double

“He’s really good. His arm strength is at the top end of left-handed starters in the league. A lot of the story today is just about how good he was. We couldn’t quite break out and have a big inning against him.” — Houston manager A.J. Hinch on Paxton

“This was a big series for us and a big road trip. We went five out of six. That’s awesome coming out of the break.” – Paxton

“You face a guy like (Luis) Severino today, you can’t make any mistakes. I made one mistake against Gardner and he hit a homer. I was trying to go sinker down and away, and it didn’t sink.”– Felix Hernandez, after giving up a homer to New York’s Brett Gardner

“Tonight’s ballgame was about a couple big hits that they got and we didn’t. Moore obviously made the mistake to Judge (who) is having a phenomenal season and is a very talented young guy. Bad pitch in a bad spot and a bad result.” – Servais

“I can’t think this organization enough for giving me an opportunity. It’s been kind of an up-and-down career so far. I love it over here.” –  Gamel, after he scored the winning run against the Yankees, his former team,  Saturday

“Our guys did a great job of battling back from 3-0, but it wasn’t enough. It would have been great to get out of here today with a split, but it didn’t happen.” — Servais Sunday

Transactions/DL

Tuesday: Recalled RHP Sam Gaviglio from AAA Tacoma, optioned OF Boog Powell to the Rainiers.

Thursday: Acquired RHP David Phelps from the Miami Marlins for minor league OF Brayan Hernandez and minor league RHPs Pablo Lopez, Brandon Miller and Lukas Schiraldi; recalled RHP Max Povse from Tacoma, optioned Gaviglio to the Rainiers.

Friday: Traded minor league OF Tyler O’Neill to the St. Louis Cardinals for minor league LHP Marco Gonzales; traded AAA relievers Mark Lowe and Jean Machi to the Chicago White Sox for cash considerations.

Next

The Mariners host the Boston Red Sox in a three-game series beginning Monday, take Thursday off, and close out the 10-game home stand with a trio against the New York Mets Friday through Sunday. Paxton (9-3, 3.05) pitch the series opener  opposite LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (4.2, 3.66).


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