That’s more like it.
A night after a frustrating defeat at the hands of the Royals, who possess the second wild card spot, James Paxton and the Mariners outfielders bounced back to take game two of arguably their most important series of the season 5-2.
Shortly before first pitch, M’s fans were treated to this delightful snippet piece of news:
Nelson Cruz was scratched from the lineup. Waiting for details why— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) August 4, 2017
After Jean Segura singled in the top of the first inning, Robinson Cano moved him over to third on what was the 500th double of his career.
RT SInow "Double No. 500 of Robinson Cano's career pic.twitter.com/bwaPvDsgi9"— Dak (@dak2zeke) August 5, 2017
Danny Valencia proceeded to bring Jean home with a sacrifice fly, giving the M’s an early 1-0 lead. James Paxton acknowledged his appreciation for the early lead by carrying a no-hitter in to the 5th inning when a single, a wild pitch, a ground out, and another single by Brandon Moss (who else?) tied the game at 1-1. Hope was immediately restored by Ben Gamel leading off the 6th with an opposite field single, but then committed a trademarked Mariners TOOTBLAN by failing to return to first base quick enough to avoid being doubled up on the back end of a Jean Segura line out to third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Whit Merrifield assured me that my gut feeling that momentum was about to shift in the Royals’ favor was indeed warranted by leading off the bottom half of the sixth with a double up the left field line. Lorenzo Cain followed by poking a single to right on which Royals third base coach Mike Jirschele, who has apparently watched Leonys Martin play baseball, wisely held Merrifield at third. Cain ended up advancing on a passed ball by Mike Zuninio, which pushed KC’s Fangraphs win expectancy to 76.9%. Between fanning Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez to end the threat, Pax bounced in his second wild pitch in as many innings, which gave the Royals their first lead of the ballgame at 2-1.
This is where things get interesting. Despite trailing in the game, this is the point that things took a turn in the Mariners favor, and it had—at least initially—nothing to do with a Mariners player. Salvador Perez was removed from the ballgame after his inning ending strikeout (we’d later find out he’s having an MRI on his “right side”), which opened the door for the M’s to wreak havoc on the base paths. Kyle Seager, Jarrod Dyson, and Leonys Martin each singled and stole second in a three run seventh inning, with Guillermo Heredia (double), Jarrod Dyson (single), and Leonys Martin (single) providing the run-scoring hits that propelled the Mariners to a 4-2 lead, and eventual victory.
With a two run lead heading in to the bottom of the seventh, James Paxton gave way to David Phelps, Nick Vincent, and Edwin Diaz, who each faced the minimum. Pax just continues to roll, picking up his 12th win of the season while Edwin Diaz 2.0 continues his run of dominance, and is now flirting with a sub-3.00 ERA on the season, whatever that is worth to you.
Felix takes the hill against Royals ace Danny Duffy tomorrow at 4:15pm PT with an opportunity to trim the Royals Wild Card lead to just a half game.
Nelson Cruz says spasm is in upper back. Grabbed him while stretching before game. He looks pretty stiff still. Not sure about tomorrow.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) August 5, 2017