Despite a rough third game where the Mariners surrendered a three-run lead in the top of the ninth and eventually lost, Seattle won two of three against Milwaukee and continue to stay right in the thick of the American League Wild Card Race.
The series started with a nail biter and Milwaukee nearly came back and stole the first game, but the Mariners held on to win their seventh consecutive home game.
Wade LeBlanc started for Seattle and earned his third win of the season surrendering just three runs over 5 and 1/3 innings. All of the runs came on three solo shots. Chris Carter homered in the 5th, Jonathon Villar in the 6th, and Keon Broxton.
Kyle Seager started the scoring for Seattle, and the game, with a solo blast in the 4th inning, his 23rd home run of the season.
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When LeBlanc exited, Seattle had a 4-3 lead in the 6th, and Nelson Cruz added another run to that in the 6th with a single which scored Ketel Marte and Seattle had a 5-3 lead after six innings.
Broxton drove in another run with a single in the 7th to cut the lead to just one run, but Seattle quickly answered when Ketel Marte doubled in Leonys Martin, and Adam Lind homered against his old team in the 8th and Seattle had a 7-4 lead going into the 9th.
Edwin Diaz struggled with his command, very similar to the game against the Angels where they had the bases loaded and were down by just one run, and Ryan Braun singled off Diaz with the bases loaded and the game was then 7-6. Diaz and the Mariners held on to start the series with a win.
Game One Notes:
Player of the Game: A lot of different people stepped up in this game, but I think Adam Lind gets the nod here because his 8th inning home run ultimately was the difference maker in this game. And it never hurts to have some success against your former team.
After the game, Scott Servais announced that Diaz would have the rest of the series off to deal with some mechanical issues that have caused a lack of command in his last few outings.
Today was a day where the long ball really bailed the Mariners out. They left 12 men on base which is usually a recipe for disaster.
Stefen Romero started the game at first base, as he got recalled from AAA Tacoma as they sent Dae Ho Lee to AAA to work on his timing as he has really struggled in the second half. Joe Wieland was also demoted to make room for the returning Steve Cishek.
The Mariners sent their ace out to get the job done and he did just that. Felix Hernandez had arguably his best start since his return from the Disabled List by dominating the struggling Brewers over eight innings of work.
Norichika Aoki continued his hot streak in the 3rd inning by singling to right field and scoring Leonys Martin and the lead was 1-0. Aoki added another run in the 5th with an RBI double which scored Ketel Marte.
Mike Zunino hit a 436 foot bomb in the 7th to give Seattle a 3-0 lead. Leonys Martin homered in the very next at bat and the back-to-back home runs made it a 4-0 lead for the Mariners.
Milwaukee finally got to Felix in the 8th when Ryan Braun drove in a run with a double, and later scored to the lead was cut to 4-2.
The Mariners exploded in the 8th and scored an additional four runs. A Nelson Cruz fielder’s choice drove in Robinson Cano. Adam Lind hit a ground-rule double which scored Cruz, and Mike Zunino hit a two-run double to center field and the lead was 8-2.
Steve Cishek made his first appearance since returning from the Disabled List and pitched a 1,2,3 inning, striking out two Brewer hitters to end the game at 8-2 and give Seattle the series victory.
Game Two Notes:
Player of the Game: Felix was dominant. He gave up just two runs in 8 innings of work and struck out 8 batters and walked only one. This was the Felix that Mariners fans have been so used to seeing and it was great to see him return to form.
Zunino and Aoki have both hit so well since being recalled from AAA. Both have been instrumental in the recent hot streak.
Every starter except for Seth Smith had a hit.
14 pitches and 10 were strikes from Steve Cishek. If he can be used as a high-leverage guy or the 8th inning guy, he could play a huge role down the stretch.
Despite a decent start from Ariel Miranda and chasing Matt Garza in the 4th inning, Tom Wilhemsen who was filling in as the closer for Edwin Diaz, had his worst performance since his return to Seattle and blew a 9th inning lead and cost Seattle the game and a shot at a series sweep.
A big third inning gave Seattle a early 3-0 lead. Ketel Marte drove in Leonys Martin with a single, Seth Smith drove in Marte with a single, and a Robinson Cano ground out drove in Norichika Aoki.
Keon Broxton hit a home run to left that barely got over the wall and cut the lead to 3-1 in the top of the 4th inning.
The Mariners had another big inning in the bottom of the 4th and scored another 3 runs.
Smith drove in another run with a single, Cano grounded out again and scored another run, and Nelson Cruz showed off his wheels with an RBI infield single and the lead was 6-1.
Ryan Braun hit a ground-rule double to left field which scored two runs and made it a 6-3 ball game.
Then the 9th inning happened. Tom Wilhelmsen was in the closer role due to Edwin Diaz not being available and he had a very rough day. Keon Broxton hit another home run, Chris Carter added a 2-run shot which tied the game at 6-6, and Scooter Gennett hit an RBI single which ended up being the game-winning hit for the Brewers and they were able to avoid the series sweep.
Game Three Notes:
Wilhemsen has pitched great since his return to the Mariners, but it’s been a while since he’s been “the guy” in the 9th inning. With Cishek back, why not use him in the 9th instead of the 6th? Obviously hindsight is 20/20.
Other than Wilhelmsen, the bullpen threw three scoreless innings.
Two more hits for Aoki. You have to love seeing that.
The Yankees come to town starting today so get to the ballpark to limit the amount of annoying fans at Safeco.
At the time of writing this, the Mariners are just one game out of the second Wild Card spot.
James Paxton should return to the Mariners sometime this week.
Remember when the Mariners were 0-5 at home to start the year? They are now 35-26 at Safeco this year.