OAKLAND, Calif. – For seven innings, the team that scored 17 runs over the past two games and banged out 25 hits was held hitless and seemed destined to be shut out for the 11th time this season and the fifth time in the past 12 games.
The Mariners escaped the ignominy of being no-hit with a pair of singles with two outs in the eighth inning.
They avoided being shut out and escaped defeat by scoring two runs in a crazy ninth inning in which they didn’t register a single hit. In fact, the two balls they put in play in the inning were the first and third outs.
“That’s the definition of a grind-it-out victory,” said M’s starter Robbie Ray, who delivered another solid outing.
The Mariners worked the bases loaded on three walks from Zach Jackson and then showed the discipline to let hard-throwing lefty A.J. Puk enter the game and fire pitches past catcher Christian Bethancourt.
Puk uncorked a pair of wild pitches that improbably allowed the game-tying and go-ahead runs to score.
Paul Sewald secured a stunning 2-1 victory and a series sweep with a scoreless bottom of the ninth.
The win, however, was overshadowed by what at first appeared to be an awful injury to first baseman Ty France in a play that probably didn’t need to happen.
France injured his left arm in a collision while playing first base and was forced to leave the game in the fifth inning.
With two outs, Oakland’s Sheldon Neuse hit a soft ground ball to third base. Abraham Toro fielded the ball with his bare hand, firing to first base on the run. The throw leaked toward the home-plate side of the base. As France stretched to grab the ball, his glove collided with Neuse. His arm was pulled back awkwardly and he crumpled to the dirt in pain.
Manager Scott Servais and head athletic trainer Kyle Torgerson were quickly on the field to check on France, who was eventually was helped to his feet and left the field cradling his arm.
“Just talking to our trainers, we are cautiously optimistic that maybe it’s not as bad as it looked,” Servais said.
France was equally optimistic.
“I didn’t hear him or see him coming,” France said. “I threw my arm out there and heard a crack, but I think that was my knuckle popping type of thing. It’s a little stiff right now, but that’s because I iced it and everything. Honestly, the morning will be the real test.”
The possibility of France, their best hitter, missing any sort of extended time with an injury is something the Mariners’ inconsistent offense can’t withstand, particularly with Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis already on the injured list and not expected to return any time soon.
Did the Mariners get lucky for once?
“All the strength is there,” France said. “We are playing good baseball right now and I’m feeling good at the plate. Hopefully, I’m able to get back out there.”
Why did the play not need to happen?
Well, on the previous pitch to Neuse, Mariners starter Robbie Ray threw a 95-mph fastball down the middle that home-plate umpire Nic Lentz called a ball. It would’ve been strike three to end the inning.
A’s starter Frankie Montas had a serious flirtation with throwing the third no-hitter of the 2022 MLB season.
The hard-throwing right-hander, who the Mariners were interested in acquiring via trade during spring training but were deterred by the large asking price, used a mixture of high-90s fastballs and sliders to generate early contact easy ground-ball outs.
Montas held the Mariners without a hit through the first seven innings, allowing just two base runners via walk.
In the eighth, Montas retired Taylor Trammell and Toro with ground-ball outs. But Adam Frazier ended the no-hit bid moments later when he dumped a soft single to left field for Seattle’s first hit. Luis Torrens followed with a crisp line-drive single into center. But Montas made it eight scoreless innings by winning a nine-pitch battle with J.P. Crawford and inducing a ground out to second base.
Over his eight innings of work, Montas struck out eight batters and collected 10 groundball outs. He expected to be the most coveted starting pitcher on the trade market, which kicks into gear in the coming weeks. The Mariners might face him in an A’s uniform only one more time on the upcoming homestand.
Ray couldn’t match the hitless or scoreless outing, but he gave his team another outstanding start. After allowing a first-inning run, Ray pitched the next five innings scoreless.
He allowed just four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. In his past three outings, Ray has pitched a total of 20 innings and allowed just one run.
It was the 21st straight start of three runs or fewer allowed made by the Mariners rotation, which is a club record.
Murphy to miss remainder of season
When rest, rehab, a platelet-rich plasma injection and everything else he tried didn’t get his damaged left shoulder strong enough to return to the field, Tom Murphy was left with no other choice but the last option he wanted — surgery.
Servais announced that the veteran catcher has decided to undergo season-ending surgery to repair damage from tearing in the rotator cuff and labrum of his left shoulder.
Murphy has been dealing with the left shoulder problems for the past few seasons. He’s had the shoulder dislocate either completely or partially a handful of times over the last season.
The most recent dislocation came on May 6 while trying to tag a runner at the plate at T-Mobile Park. Murphy walked off the field immediately after the play, cradling his arm.