SEATTLE — Viewed solely as a salvage operation, this was an undeniable success. Let’s leave it at that.
The Seattle Mariners held on (barely) Wednesday afternoon to beat Baltimore 7-6 at Safeco Field. In doing so, they won the series, climbed back to .500 and flushed away much of the sour taste still lingering from a recent five-game skid.
“That means a lot, especially after (four losses) against the Angels,” right fielder Leonys Martin said. “This shows we can do it. We just have to concentrate on every game right now and forget about what happened with other teams.
“Just play the game to the end.”
It went right to the end Wednesday before Marc Rzepczynski, after replacing an ineffective Edwin Diaz, struck out Chris Davis with the bases loaded on three pitches.
“I threw a pitch right down the middle on 0-2,” Rzepczynski said, “which I didn’t mean to do. I lucked out there. It’s a huge win.”
First baseman Yonder Alonso also made an impact for the first time since arriving from Oakland in a Aug. 6 trade for outfielder Boog Powell. Alonso had three hits, including a two-run homer and a tie-breaking RBI single.
The Mariners survived a Diaz meltdown when he nearly let a three-run lead slip away without allowing a hit. Three walks and two hit batters pulled the Orioles within one run with the bases still loaded.
“I lost my mechanics today,” Diaz said. “I was rushing too much today, pulling my shoulder. I think I was thinking too much. I made a couple of good pitches, but then I got back to rushing, rushing, rushing.
“That cost me two runs, and I almost blew the game.”
And yet, even with the wild ending, what stood out was a rotation that continues to throb like a sore tooth. This was Marco Gonzales’ third start since arriving in a July 21 trade from St. Louis, and he has yet to make it through the fifth inning.
“I still really like his stuff,” manager Scott Servais said, “but he’s going to have to do a better job of navigating to get deep into games. You look when he goes out for the fifth, you think he’s in great shape. Then it happens rather quickly.”
Gonzales spit back a two-run lead in the fifth inning by allowing five straight one-out hits, which accounted for three Baltimore runs. Tony Zych got the final two outs before the Mariners struck back against Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez.
“It’s making the adjustment to pitching in the big leagues,” Gonzales said. “After a couple of times through the lineup, they’re making adjustments on me. I’m making adjustments on them.
“Right now, I’m just on the other side of that chess match. It’s a minor adjustment here or there. Nothing that I’m too worried about.”
It’s too early to reach a conclusions on Gonzales. For one thing, three starts is just three starts. But the bigger issue is he underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2016 to rebuild his elbow. This is his first season back.
Many pitchers don’t find their form until their second year. By that measure, Gonzales, who has thrown 102 1/3 innings in the majors and minors, is ahead of schedule.
Right now, though, he’s not helping an overworked bullpen.
“He’s going to be in our rotation,” Servais said. “We’ll go forward with him. He’ll continue to learn and get better.”