There was so much to unpack from Seattle’s victory Friday night at T-Mobile Park, but it starts with the Mariners climbing back above .500 (43-42) for the first time since May 2, and with it , within two games of the third and last place AL Wild Card.
Less than three weeks after the season took a dramatic downturn, things are in a much brighter place, with the Mariners on a six-game winning streak and running through crucial moments that have eluded them for much of it. of the first months. in 2022.
“Certainly we are very resilient,” said manager Scott Servais. “And we used that word a lot last year with our team. This team is a different team. It’s wired a little differently. We have players who are maturing. They grow up. I think last year when Kyle Seager was a big part of our clubhouse and from a leadership perspective, not having him here made other guys stand out. They learn along the way.
Starting with Suárez: In a 2-1 count against Sergio Romo, the hitting third baseman was looking for a breaking ball. He shared a club with Romo for more than two months this year before the veteran reliever was released and then signed with Toronto. He knew Romo is throwing him for nearly half his usage and the Blue Jays were looking for a double play.
All the pressure was on the Blue Jays at the time after Borucki shut down Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal and George Springer to give his team another chance after Abraham Toro was sent off in the 10th trying to score the run winning on an incredibly aggressive. send by third base coach Manny Acta.
Suárez didn’t want to waste Seattle’s second chance.
“I know he has a really good slider and commands it the way he wants,” Suraez explained. “I was just looking for something in the middle, in the middle. He missed that one. My approach was to stay on that slider, not overdo it, and let it come to you.
Suárez delivered the most dramatic moment, but he wouldn’t have been there without Borucki. Acquired from the Blue Jays on June 5 after being designated for an assignment, Borucki was recruited almost exclusively to face left-handed hitters. Still, with the Mariners bullpen shorthanded after Erik Swanson got a call in the eighth inning that his wife was going into labor, Borucki took on a heavier load.
He admitted he was throwing with a lot more adrenaline against the only organization he knew until last month. The Blue Jays drafted him in 2012 and developed him over the next 11 seasons, so there was an added advantage when he was called up.
“I’ve never felt like this in my life,” Borucki said. “Just the joy of being able to do what I did today and help this team win and beat the team which is the only team I’ve ever been with, it’s going to be a good night, It’s certain.”
Borucki overcame two challenges he encountered this year: 1. dealing with right-handers and 2. base traffic. Right-handers had a 1.247 OPS against him going into the night, compared to .508 against left-handers, and when runners were on, opposing hitters had a slant line of .367/.424/.733 (1.158 OPS) against him. Still, that didn’t faze him.
He was the last reliever called, but the collective effort from the bullpen was just as critical to Friday’s win, going a combined 6 2/3 scoreless innings with just two hits allowed and eight outs in stick. The ‘pen also overcame an unexpected departure from Ken Giles, who left with pain in the back of his pitching shoulder and will be reevaluated. This forced Paul Sewald to pitch without notice.
The Mariners have won 14 of their last 17 games, and in that streak their relievers have a 1.20 ERA and held batters to a .463 OPS, both the second-best rating in baseball.
“So much resilience,” Borucki said. “We’re never out of the fight and we just play really good baseball. We play great defence, we hit the ball very well and we throw. This is a playoff-caliber team, and if you do those three things, you’ll be in every game, no matter what.
At the start of the season, the Mariners probably would have had higher ambitions than just being a game in the green with a week until the all-star break, but given how well they got back on track way, that’s probably the last thing on their minds.