Mariners 10, Diamondbacks 4 (11)
Early Pitchers’ Duel
Both pitchers mowed through the opposition in the first three innings. Tyler Gilbert of the Diamondbacks faced one more than the minimum, with his only blemish being a two-out single in the first by first baseman Ty France. Chris Flexen of the Mariners was not quite as dominant but just as effective. He faced three more than the minimum, pitching around a two-out walk in the first and two baserunners in the second. Those baserunners were third baseman Josh VanMeter — who reached on a bunt single against the overshift — and second baseman Andrew Young, who drew a two-out walk.
The Mariners broke through against Gilbert in the fourth. Right fielder Mitch Haniger led off with a walk before France stroked his second single in as many at-bats. This advanced Haniger to third. Third baseman Kyle Seager followed with a sharp grounder to first. Pavin Smith saw Haniger too far off third, so he fired to the plate, trying to get Haniger in a rundown. The throw, however, sailed over Daulton Varsho’s head and hit the low wall behind the plate. Everyone was safe, but since no runners advanced, there was no error on the play. Mariners second baseman Abraham Toro followed by grounding into a 6–4 force play, scoring Haniger for a 1–0 lead. A sacrifice fly by catcher Tom Murphy made it 2–0 before Varsho gunned down Toro on a stolen base attempt for the third out.
Diamondbacks Take Lead, Mariners Equalize
Shortstop Josh Rojas led off the bottom of the sixth with a double. After center fielder Ketel Marte flied to right, advancing Rojas to third, Smith doubled, making the score 2–1. Left fielder David Peralta, up next, gave the Diamondbacks the lead with a two-run clout to the left-field bleachers.
The Mariners responded their very next time at bat. Toro and Murphy opened the inning with a double and single, respectively. Center fielder Jarred Kelenic, up next, grounded into a run-scoring 4-6-3 double play. Toro scored, but, by rule, Kelenic did not receive an RBI.
The game went to extras, thanks to three frames of scoreless relief by the Mariners and two by the Diamondbacks. In the top of the 10th, left fielder Dylan Moore tried to advance Kelenic — the automatic runner — to third with a bunt. Varsho pounced on the ball and fired to third in time to retire Kelenic. During the next at-bat — pinch-hitter Luis Torrens — Varsho gunned Moore down on a stolen base attempt. Torrens ultimately doubled, but it did not matter as shortstop J.P. Crawford flied to Marte.
The Diamondbacks had a chance to win in the bottom of the 10th. Young began the inning as the automatic runner. Right fielder Jake McCarthy bunted him to third, nearly beating the throw to first in the process. That brought up the pitcher’s spot, so manager Torey Lovullo sent up Christian Walker to pinch-hit. He struck out swinging, bringing up Rojas, whose popup to short ended the inning with a golden opportunity wasted.
The Fateful 11th
Taylor Clarke, who has struggled mightily since returning from the injured list August 5, took the mound in the top of the 11th. Crawford was the automatic runner. Walks to Haniger and France loaded the bases for the dangerous Seager, whose double plated Crawford and Haniger. In came Sean Poppen to relieve Clarke, who threw 13 pitches but only three strikes. Poppen served up two straight singles to Toro and Murphy, with each driving in a run.
With the score now 7–3, Poppen finally got the first two outs of the inning by striking out Kelenic and retiring Moore on a fly out. A double by pinch-hitter Jake Bauers, however, scored both Toro and Murphy, making the score 9–3. In came Brett de Geus to relieve Poppen, and he also struggled. Bauers reached third on a single by Crawford and scored on a single by Haniger. de Geus hit France to load the bases for Seager again, but a grounder to second mercifully ended the half-inning.
The Diamondbacks scored one run in the bottom of the 11th. Automatic runner Josh Rojas advanced to third on a passed ball before Marte drove him in with a single. A 6-4-3 double play groundout by Smith brought up Peralta with two outs and the bases empty. He got the crowd excited with an apparent double off the left-field fence near the foul line. The ball hit near the vertical yellow pad extending below the foul pole, but replay confirmed that the ball hit the fence in foul ground slightly before hitting the yellow pad. Peralta ultimately struck out, ending the game.
Taylor Clarke’s struggles have not gone unnoticed, obviously. Lovullo has seen Clarke “trying to place the baseball, instead of throwing it.” Clarke is also “falling behind in counts and then happening to throw middle-middle pitches that the hitters aren’t missing. He’s got a very good feel for the strike zone with his fastball. He can climb to the top of it and can drive pitches down on both edges — (he’s just not getting) there. The secondary stuff is a little bit inconsistent. So, it’s about finding that rhythm, finding the ability to command pitches, and then finishing hitters off.”
The Mariners (75–62), winners of five in a row, are now 4 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros in the AL West standings. They are also three games behind the Boston Red Sox for the second AL Wild Card. Starting Monday, they will play a three-game road series with the Astros.
The Diamondbacks (45–93), after an off-day Monday, play a pair at home against the Texas Rangers (48–88). They need to go at least 7–17 over the rest of the season to keep from breaking the 2004 team’s franchise mark (51–111) for futility in a season.
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Tyler Gilbert, Ty France, Chris Flexen, Josh VanMeter, Andrew Young, Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager, Pavin Smith, Daulton Varsho, Abraham Toro, Tom Murphy, Josh Rojas, Ketel Marte, David Peralta, Jarred Kelenic, Dylan Moore, Luis Torrens, J.P. Crawford, Jake McCarthy, Torey Lovullo, Christian Walker, Taylor Clarke, Sean Poppen, Jake Bauers, Brett de Geus