No style points for this one Friday night for the Mariners. Not that it matters, of course. But they will take this 7-6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers and move on.
The Mariners wasted numerous chances to break the game open by stranding 12 runners. They settled for small punches instead of the knockout blow. And they couldn’t put the Brewers away.
And the Brewers seemingly asked to be put away by making a series of mistakes. But the Mariners made it tougher than it should have been.
Starter Wade LeBlanc gave up three homers in his 5 1/3 innings which turned a 1-0 lead into a tie and a 4-1 lead into 4-3.
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But the Mariners, as they have done repeatedly in recent weeks, turned to their bullpen, the Wolfpack, and it again delivered.
Drew Storen, Arquimedes Caminero, Tom Wilhelmsen and Edwin Diaz covered the final 11 outs as the Mariners won for the 13th time in 17 games and closed to within two games of the final wild-card spot. Diaz walked the bases loaded in the ninth inning and gave up a two-run single to Ryan Braun, but survived.
It’s not that the Mariners didn’t have plenty of production. They had 11 hits, including home runs by Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano and Adam Lind.
It was a battle though.
LeBlanc (3-0) got the victory, while Diaz matched a franchise record by opening his career with nine straight successful saves. Byron McLaughlin had nine in a row in 1979.
It was 1-1 when Shawn O’Malley opened the fifth inning with a bunt single.
Milwaukee starter Brent Suter (0-1) blew an 84-mph fastball past Franklin Gutierrez, but Cano connected on an 82-mph slider for a two-run homer.
Cano just missed a homer in the first inning on a drive to center. This time, he went the shorter distance: 361 feet to right field for his 28th of the season and a 3-1 lead.
Shortstop Orlando Arcia temporarily saved a run by knocking down Kyle Seager’s single with Nelson Cruz at second, but Stefen Romero followed by serving a flare into center for an RBI single.
That finished Suter, but Jhan Marinez kept the score at 4-1 by retiring the next two hitters.
As he did after the Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, LeBlanc began the next inning by allowing a leadoff homer. This time to Jonathan Villar.
Then LeBlanc gave up a homer to Keon Broxton, and the Mariners’ three-run lead, within three pitches, was down to 4-3. LeBlanc then struck out Ryan Braun before the Mariners summoned Storen.
The Mariners answered with an unearned run later in the inning Arcia committed a throwing error on Ketel Marte’s leadoff grounder. Marte scored when left fielder Jake Elmore couldn’t hold Cruz’s two-out sinking liner.
Cruz was credited with an RBI single, and the Mariners led 5-3. The Mariners had a chance for more after loading the bases but Lind took a third strike from Tyler Cravy.
Again, Milwaukee responded, this time against reliever Arquimedes Caminero after he retired the first two batters in the seventh. Villar singled, stole second and scored on Broxton’s single.
Then it was the Mariners’ turn.
Leonys Martin drew a one-out walk later in the seventh from Chase Anderson and stole second when Brewers chose not to cover the base.
Catcher Manny Pina came up throwing and appeared to hurt himself when he pulled the throw back. Marte then flicked an RBI double into left for a 6-4 lead.
Once more, the Mariners had the chance for a bigger inning after putting runners at first and third with one out but settled for the single run.
Lind’s two-out homer in the eighth closed the scoring.
The Mariners let Suter, in his major-league debut, work around two walks and an error on a pickoff throw in a scoreless first inning. Suter walked the first batter in the second inning, and got away with that, too.
LeBlanc retired the first 10 Brewers before Broxton yanked a single to left.
The Mariners didn’t get their first hit until Seager launched an 0-1 curve into the right-field seats in the fourth inning. It was his 23rd homers of the season.
The lead didn’t last long.
Chris Carter crushed a full-count fastball – an 85-mph fastball from LeBlanc – for a leadoff homer in the fifth inning. The ball traveled 465 feet to dead center field.