SEATTLE – The wait is over.
After 34 games in 37 days, the Mariners finally won back-to-back games, snapping the second longest streak in Major League Baseball.
In a fitting coincidence, Thursday’s 5-2 victory over the Orioles at T-Mobile Park prolonged the longest streak of not winning consecutive games this season, which is now at 40 games for Baltimore.
The last time Seattle won back-to-back games came on May 13-14 vs. the A’s at T-Mobile. Since then, the Mariners are 11-23. During that span of games, Seattle lost three games in a row following wins on three different occasion and had a four-game slide after a win. From June 5 to June 17, a period of 12 games, the Mariners alternated between wins and losses before dropping two straight against the Royals to open the homestand.
If they were to win tomorrow, it would make it a winning streak. The last time Seattle won three in a row was back on April 18-20 against the Angels. Yep, this is how you get a 33-46 record.
Mariners fans might think the current version of their team is awful, but a gander across the diamond to an Orioles team that is now 21-54 could at least provide a dose of “well, it could be worse.”
Rookie right-hander Tayler Scott made his second start as an “opener” for the Mariners. It didn’t go quite as planned. A leadoff walk to start the game was a sign of things to come in an outing that never saw him get out of the first inning.
Scott alternated walks and outs for the five batters he faced. At that point, manager Scott Servais had seen enough, removing his opener with two outs and the bases loaded.
Enter Wade LeBlanc, who was once a starter and is now a “bulk pitcher” as in pitching the bulk of the innings.
LeBlanc came in and immediately allowed a single to the left-handed hitting Rio Ruiz, scoring a pair of runs that were charged to Scott. LeBlanc limited the damage there.
But as has been the case in five games with the opener, the Mariners had a deficit after one inning.
Mariners openers have pitched a total of six innings in seven starts. They’ve allowed 13 runs for a 19.50 ERA with 11 hits allowed, 11 walks and five strikeouts.
A 2-0 deficit is not insurmountable, particularly against an Orioles team that features the worst pitching staff in baseball.
The Mariners cut the lead in half in the second inning. Omar Narvaez pulled an inside fastball from Orioles’ starter Dylan Bundy over the wall in right field for his 11th homer of the season.
From there Bundy retired 12 of the next 14 batters he faced, allowing just one hit.
But Seattle finally figured him out in the sixth inning. Domingo Santana hit a towering solo homer to right field – his third homer in two games – to tie the game at 2-2.
Daniel Vogelbach and Narvaez each followed with singles and Kyle Seager made it three in a row, sending a hard ground ball up the middle and into center field. It scored the slow-running Vogelbach and gave the Mariners a 3-2 lead.
Seager’s single chased Bundy from the game. His replacement, Evan Phillips, gave up a two-out RBI single to Mac Williamson that made it 4-2.
Meanwhile, LeBlanc got into a nice rhythm. He allowed just three more hits and no runs over the next six innings, walking two and striking out seven.
He was lifted after the seventh inning and avoided having to face the middle of the Orioles order for the third time in the game – one of the main goals of using an opener.
The Mariners’ bulk/Costco guys of Tommy Milone and LeBlanc have now pitched a combined 40 2/3 innings in those opener starts, allowing 14 earned runs for a 3.10 ERA, 31 hits, five walks and 31 strikeouts.
Seattle tacked on another run in the seventh when Seager worked a bases-loaded walk against one-time Mariners’ prospect Paul Fry to make it 5-2.
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