The bullpen blew the carefully-scripted plan Mariners manager Scott Servais’ laid out for his starting pitching-challenged team before Thursday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
But that only added to drama as the Mariners scored in the bottom of the ninth to beat the White Sox 5-4 at Safeco Field.
“Another interesting night,” Servais said dryly afterward.
Needing yet another different starter as a result of the myriad of injuries that have beset the Mariners this season, Seattle turned to rookie Sam Gaviglio.
Not only was Gaviglio the 10th different starter for Seattle this season – the most in the majors – but it was also only the second major-league appearance of his career.
All Servais wanted, he said, was four or five innings from Gaviglio “to keep us in the game, and then we will go from there.’’
He got that and more from Gaviglio, whom Servais said “gave us a great effort.”
It was the “go from there” part that momentarily proved the problem.
After Gaviglio threw five shutout innings to depart with his first victory potentially at hand, the bullpen blew up, allowing three homers in the seventh and eighth innings to tie the score.
Two came back-to-back with two outs in the eighth inning off Dan Altavilla – solo shots by Todd Frazier and Matt Anderson that made it 4-4.
Frazier hit his to left and Anderson to right as a White Sox team that came in having lost nine of its last 11 games quickly, if not necessarily unsurprisingly given some of the issues for the Seattle bullpen this season, turned Bark in the Park Night from celebratory to here-we-go-again.
But the bullpen blowup merely setup some ninth-inning heroics.
Taylor Motter led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to right. Motter was erased at second on a bunt attempt by Jarrod Dyson.
But Dyson then beat out a double-play attempt to reach second on a Carlos Ruiz grounder to third. Ruiz was out at first on the relay but Dyson – who was running on the pitch – kept the inning alive by beating the throw to second from third baseman Frazier.
“Anybody else probably gets doubled up,” Servais said. “That says a lot about Dyson’s speed.”
The White Sox then intentionally walked Jean Segura, who had hit a three-run homer earlier in the game, bringing up Guillermo Heredia as a pinch-hitter for Ben Gamel.
Heredia then lined a 1-1 pitch to center to score Dyson and give the Mariners the win.
“A little bit of everything,” Servais said. “That’s kind of what we need right now. Everybody has to chip in.”
Until the White Sox tied it, what figured to be most noteworthy about the night was a second straight unexpectedly strong starting pitching performance – Christian Bergman threw 7 1/3 shutout innings in a 4-0 win over the A’s on Wednesday, followed up by Gaviglio.
Gaviglio, a former standout at Oregon State, wasn’t overpowering but kept the White Sox off balance with a steady stream of curves, sliders, changeups and a fastball that stayed around 90.
“It’s just another baseball game,” Gaviglio said, downplaying his first career start. “That’s the way you’ve got to look at it.”
And he got the big outs when he needed them, stranding a runner on second or third in every inning from the second to the fifth.
His final out typified his night.
After hitting Leury Garcia to put runners on first and second, eliciting a visit from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, he struck out Yolmer Sanchez on four pitches – each of the strikes a changeup of 82 or 83 miles per hour.
Gaviglio hadn’t started in two weeks, and having thrown 75 pitches, said he could feel himself tiring in the fifth.
Casey Lawrence then came on to pitch the next two innings.
He was unscathed in the sixth but gave up a two-run shot to Matt Davidson in the seventh that cut Seattle’s lead in half and foreshadowed the sordid events of the eighth.
The Mariners momentarily broke the game open on a three-run homer by Segura, capping a rally that started with two outs and no one on in the third. Dyson walked, then stole second and third and then Ruiz – hitting .125 – walked on a 3-2 pitch. Segura then rocketed a blast over the scoreboard in left field to make it 4-0. That also gave Segura a 17-game hitting streak, tying Mike Trout for longest in the majors.
Dyson had given the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third in an unlikely – if suddenly not so unfamiliar fashion – hitting a solo home run.
Dyson’s homer was just the ninth of his career but his second in five days. According to ESPN Stats & Info he is tied for the second-fewest career home runs – nine – of anyone with more than 1,500 plate appearances (he entered the game with 1,684), ahead of only Ben Revere of the Angels, who has seven.
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