Everything about Sunday screamed for the Mariners to find success in this stretch of struggles.
The afternoon sunshine provided some warmth to the chilly temperatures and biting wind. A Mother’s Day crowd for 32,501 filled T-Mobile Park, bringing the sort of good vibes that moms can provide.
And of course, the Major League Baseball debut of George Joseph Kirby, brought that anticipation of potential that top prospects tend to inject to teams and fanbases.
Perhaps it was an unfair ask the 24-year-old right-hander to be the pitcher to stop a losing slide in his first big league start. But with his parents and a boisterous group of his former high-school baseball teammates bringing a little Westchester County energy to Seattle, Kirby was everything the Mariners could have asked for and more.
But for 8 2/3 innings, it looked like Kirby’s brilliant outing would be wasted with no run support. Abraham Toro tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a solo homer to right field off reliever Andrew Kittredge.
And in the bottom of the 10th, Ty France gave the Mariners a 2-1 win with a walk-off single to left field to score Jarred Kelenic.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak for the Mariners and avoiding a sweep by the Rays.
Kirby was brilliant, tossing six shutout innings, allowing four singles with no walks and seven strikeouts. Known for pinpoint control and a ridiculous strikeout to walk ratio in college (16.8), what made Kirby’s walk-free outing even more impressive was that he fell behind 3-0 and came back to get outs.
The Mariners provided him Felix Hernandez-level run support during those six innings, which is of course, no run support.
After picking off Randy Arozarena for the final out of the sixth inning, Kirby walked off the field to a standing ovation and a 0-0 score.
Manuel Margot, who has tormented the Mariners this season, gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning.
Margot, who had homered in the first two games of the series, jumped on a 1-1 slider from Erik Swanson, sending a solo homer over the wall in left field. It was the first run allowed by Swanson in 12 appearances this season.
The Mariners seemed destined to be shut out for the fifth time this season and third time during this recent stretch of unproductive offense.