Oh what a night for the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners get a comeback win courtesy of a great bullpen and the man of the night, Mitch Haniger. The DH’s timely grand slam in the bottom of the eighth sent the Mariners to a dramatic 7-3 comeback win over the Los Angeles Angels at T-Mobile Park.
Gonzales’ Unexpected Struggles
Friday night’s game did not start as expected for Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales. Gonzales struggled immediately in the top of the first, allowing a home run to leadoff hitter David Fletcher. Fletcher is not a power hitter, so it was unusual for Gonzales to give up a home run to him. This was Fletcher’s first home run of the season. The top of the second saw Angels Jose Iglesias triple on a line drive to left field. Subsequently, an excellent play at the plate allowing hitter Taylor Ward to reach while Iglesias was thrown at the plate by Gonzales helped Seattle. The tall and lean Gonzales is helpful in the field for the Mariners, and he showed his range again by throwing Iglesias out. However, a double by Juan Lagares extended the Los Angeles lead by two.
The home run tear of superstar Shohei Ohtani continued in the top of the third. Gonzales allowed a sinker to reach over the middle of the plate that Ohtani hit a monstrous 463 feet to the right-field upper deck. The sinker is typically a great pitch for Gonzales, one he uses 37.6% of the time. However, this was another unexpected struggle by Gonzales–to allow his most consistent pitch to go over the wall. This was Ohtani’s 33rd home run of the season, adding to his lead on top of the league for home runs. One of the longest home runs recorded in the history of T-Mobile Park, this quieted the crowd quickly, for now.
Gonzales Settles In, and the Mariners Comeback Begins
The Mariners bats were rather quiet in the first three innings, only seeing a double by J.P. Crawford in the top of the first. However, Gonzales gave the Mariners a chance by settling in and got out of the top of the fourth with a double-play.
Now, it was the Mariner’s turn to light it up at the plate. Angels pitcher Alex Cobb had been cruising so far. However, a fielding error by his third baseman Luis Rengifo allowed the inning to keep going. Cobb threw a wild pitch to Luis Torrens which allowed Jake Fraley to advance. The error and the wild pitch resulted in a loss of dominance for Cobb, who allowed Torrens to walk. The Mariners have been good of late at capitalizing on mistakes by the opposing team. They continued that when they took advantage of their extra at-bats. The Mariners were suddenly back in the game when Shed Long Jr. doubled allowing two to score. This was the breakthrough Seattle needed, and it propelled them to take control of a game that seemed out of their reach early on.
Gonzales continued to improve in the top half of the fifth. He retired Lagares on a groundout, who had hit an RBI double in the second. Rengifo flew out, and he also struck out Angel’s best hitter, Ohtani, swinging. Gonzales struggled with walking batters, tying a season-high of three batters let on base. This is uncharacteristic of Gonzales who is a pitcher that does not allow walks. Gonzales was replaced in the top half of the sixth. He went 5 2/3 while allowing seven hits and three earned runs.
Haniger’s Grand Slam Sends Fans Into Frenzy
What began as an inning that did not seem hopeful turned out to be a game-changer for the Mariners. A now tied game, thanks to Ty France’s single in the previous inning, the Mariners were threatening to take the lead. A walk by the recently productive Shed Long Jr. got the pivotal leading run on base. However, Dylan Moore struck out swinging, putting the Mariners in a two-out hole. The Mariners this season are second best in the league in leaving runners on base at an average of 5.98 per game. Knowing their success with scoring baserunners, the Mariners were primed to take advantage. Jake Bauers came up and singled to keep the inning alive, resulting in a pitching change for the Angels. New pitcher Jose Quintana walked J.P. Crawford, loading the bases for the Mariners.
Enter Mitch Haniger. In front of an already anxious and excited Mariners crowd, Haniger lifted a 2-0 sinker 386 feet for his team-leading 20th home run of the season. As the late Dave Niehaus would have said, “My oh my!” This was the finale of a seven-run comeback without allowing a run for the Seattle Mariners. Haniger also leads the team in RBI’s, and he showed why he does with a timely grand slam. The crowd, rightfully so, was unbelievably excited to witness not only a Mariners grand slam, but what was sure to lead them to a win over their division-rival Angels. The momentum continued for the Mariners. Kendall Graveman shut out the Angels in the top half of the ninth to lead the Mariners to a big win.
Haniger’s postgame interview discussed how well he felt the Mariners had played on this homestand. He said about his team that “they come in and try and get better every day and just have a good attitude. I think that’s the key. I think that’s what winning teams do.” The Mariners sure are winning lately, and the grand-slam-win helped that. They are now 6-4 in their last ten games and five games over the .500 mark with two games left until the All-Star break.
Mariners manager Scott Servais exclaimed that although Ohtani’s home run was impressive, “… it’s only worth one, and (Haniger’s) was worth four. I liked (Haniger’s) a little bit better even if it didn’t go quite as far.” Ohtani’s home run was memorable, but the Mariner’s grand slam for the win by Haniger was the dramatic hit of the night no doubt.
The Mariners have two games left until the midpoint of the season. The Mariners (47-42) will try to extend their lead on the fourth-place Angels (44-43) heading into the break. Mariners standout pitcher Chris Flexen will take on Patrick Sandoval. The game is at 7:10 PM PT on Saturday, July 10th at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
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Mitch Haniger, Marco Gonzales, David Fletcher, Taylor Ward, Jose Iglesias, Shohei Ohtani, Kendall Graveman, Chris Flexen, Patrick Sandoval, Jose Quintana, J.P. Crawford, Dylan Moore, Alex Cobb, Shed Long, Ty France, Luis Rengifo, Luis Torrens, Jose Quintana, Juan Lagares