Mariners scored nine points in final win over A’s

OAKLAND — Thursday was a perfect day in Northern California, ready to drop the skies squarely on the Mariners on what was a brutal road trip.

Their best player retired in the first inning with tightness in the lower back. Their most consistent starting pitcher in the second half coughed up five runs and didn’t come out in the third. A loss would mean a win for a team in last place and their hope after the season closer to involved.

But in the final chapter of resilience in a season that has seen a lot, Seattle has recovered from its adversity, both micro and marco, on its way to a 9-5 win above the A’s.

Julius RodriguezHis status is uncertain after aggravating the injury that sidelined him for three games last weekend. George Kirby also left early, with one out in the third inning, but due to uncharacteristic struggles and not health. But Thursday’s win summed up the kind of offense the Mariners have when they’re at their best, creating consistent traffic and receiving contributions from players beyond just Rodriguez.

“We have guys who have done different things at different times of the season, but the strength is our team,” said manager Scott Servais. “When you say that, you lean on the man next to you and trust the man behind you to pass the baton.”

Thursday was a prime example of Servais’ claim, which he shared pregame.

Before Rodríguez retired, the rookie started the game with a 109.1 mph double and was one of six runners to reach base in the first inning, resulting in three runs. Then, after Kirby toiled with command and ran three for the second time in his professional career, Jarred Kelenic knocked the momentum back in Seattle’s favor with a massive 427-foot solo home run in the fourth.

But it was the three-pointer in the sixth that turned things around for good. Ty France led off with his first triple of 2022 down the rightfield line, then Kelenic drove him in with a busy double into midfield that tied the game. Dylan Moore was then walked intentionally and stole 17th base, putting Adam Frazier in position to chip a double-run double just inside good territory along the third baseline for two lead runs.

Why those moments stood out:

• Kelenic led 3-0 and was given the green light. So instead of spitting on reliever Kirby Snead’s hanging middle-in slider, he let it rip and that led to a run.

“Great situation there,” Kelenic said. “[Snead] was just teasing me. I thought this would probably be the best pitch I’d get that entire at bat. So when I got the green light, I looked for something above the heart of the board, tried to stay in the middle, and that’s what happened.”

• Moore is arguably Seattle’s best baserunner, other than Rodríguez and Sam Haggerty, and one of the more instinctive players. He saw Snead’s big step toward the board and stood up. Both TV shows didn’t even make Moore run because it happened so fast, and it put him in scoring position for the next man to make a play.

“We were just trying to fight,” Frazier said. “Obviously it’s been a rut for the past week or two, so a big situation there. They were walking with D-Mo and then he stole a bag so I knew they were coming after me.”

• Frazier’s .236 batting average doesn’t stand out, but his 87.4% contact percentage (the team’s second highest) certainly does. So when he came into a 2-2 count with two outs and the game was even, he protected and hit a slider far from the plate in the opposite field. The ball only had an exit speed of 61.2 mph and a 17% hit chance, but it will take it.

“Especially after swinging a 2-0 slide, I was like, ‘Okay. Just stay in the ball, hit the ball the other way, and do what I have to do,’” Frazier said. record, but I’m glad I joined.”

While Servais was on the mound relieved Kirby in the third, he told the infielders that “this is going to be a crazy game,” due to the swaying and many bullpen matchups to come. It was the type of formula that wasn’t much different from a post-season game, with so many moving parts — and just about every batter played in it.

“You need a game like that,” Servais said. “It’s not scripted. You are mixing and matching. How are we going to run the bullpen? Who comes in to hit?’ All those things. You involve everyone and everyone feels part of it, and you go from there.”

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