Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, who made his final appearance Thursday, waves to fans from the dugout between innings of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Athletics. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, who made his final appearance Thursday, waves to fans from the dugout between innings of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Athletics. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Mariners close out ‘step back’ season with 3-1 win over the A’s

Kyle Seager’s two-run homer proves to be the difference

  • By Tim Booth AP Sports Writer
  • Sunday, September 29, 2019 10:25pm
  • Sports

Herald news services

SEATTLE — The “step back” season of 2019 came to a close for the Seattle Mariners on Sunday with something that only happened about once every three games after their 13-2 start to the season — a victory.

Five Seattle pitchers, working in short bursts of one or two innings, combined to lead Seattle to a 3-1 win over the Oakland A’s.

The win was slightly skewed because the A’s clinched a postseason spot Friday and home-field advantage for the American League wild-card game Saturday and either sat or barely played their key starting position players. But the Mariners also played most of their young players because the game had no meaning beyond the season record.

Seattle finished the season with a 68-94 record. Their 68 wins are the lowest total since the 2011 team finished 67-95. They wound up 39 games out of first place in the American League West and yet had a better record than four teams in the AL and one in the National League, meaning they will have the sixth overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft.

“We have completed the journey,” manager Scott Servais said. “It is a marathon and I think everyone feels it today. There were certainly some positive things to take out of this season as we continue to move forward with our plan. We found out a lot about a lot of players. I think that was the goal and we accomplished that.”

The Mariners used 67 players this season. Just 13 who were on the Mariners’ opening-day roster in March were on the 40-man roster to end the season.

“With all the different bodies it was challenging,” Servais said “But with the young guys coming in and the vibe, the feel around this team in the clubhouse going forward (is) definitely positive. Now we have to build on that.”

Rookie right-hander Justin Dunn got the shortened start Sunday, tossing two shutout innings without allowing a hit. He walked one and struck out three. After having his nerves affect his command and performance in his first two outings, Dunn has slowly grown more comfortable on the mound. And with that, his talent has been evident. Dunn allowed just one hit and one walk and struck out four in the last four innings he pitched — all scoreless.

“He’s gained a lot of confidence,” Servais said. “It was a very limited exposure, but it was good for him to end the season on a positive note against Houston and Oakland. He can build upon that.”

Even with the small sample size, it showed that Dunn’s stuff can get quality hitters out at the big-league level. He no doubt will be in the competition for spot in the starting rotation come spring training.

“I got my feet wet up here and I can go into the offseason knowing I belong here,” he said. “I feel like I did it my last two times out. I know the little things I have to work on to get better to really stick and succeed.”

Former Everett AquaSox Reggie McClain (1-1) earned his first major-league win. He pitched two scoreless innings and got a key groundout from Stephen Piscotty with runners on second and third to end the third inning

Kyle Seager smashed a two-run homer in the first inning off A’s starter Tanner Roark for an early lead. Rookie Kyle Lewis smoked an RBI double to right-center in the fifth inning. It was one of two hits in the game for Lewis.

Seager hit .280 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) over .900 in his final 60 games. He had 12 doubles, a triple, 17 homers and 45 RBI in that span.

“It’s something to build off going forward,” he said. “I’ve felt much better throughout the year. I was physically in much better shape. And I was able to rotate more and much more flexible.”

Lewis, a first-round pick in 2016, played in career-high 140 games this season, including 18 games with the Mariners as a September call-up. He finished his first stint in the big leagues with a .268/.293/.592 slash line, five doubles, six homers and 13 RBI in 18 games.

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