By now, none of these things should really surprise anyone about these Mariners:
1. The Mariners won.
2. They won a one-run game.
3. And they needed an edge-of-your-seat performance from their bullpen to do it.
Paul Sewald escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth, and the Mariners kept pace in the American League wild-card chase with their sixth consecutive win, a 6-5 victory over the Angels to open their weekend series Friday night in Anaheim, California.
The Mariners improved to 14-7 in September and 7-1 on this 10-game trip.
The Mariners (85-69) didn’t make up any ground on the New York Yankees (87-67) for the second wild-card spot. They remained two games back for the final playoff berth after the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 8-3. to open their series in Boston.
The good news for the Mariners is they are now even with Toronto (85-69) after the Blue Jays lost again to the Twins in Minnesota.
Left-hander Tyler Anderson is scheduled to start Saturday evening for the Mariners opposite Angels right-hander Jaime Barria.
Friday night, the Mariners blew early leads of 3-0 and 4-2, further stressing a bullpen that’s put in stressful situations just about every night.
Rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert was cruising early. He struck out the side in the first inning behind a fastball that sat at 97 mph.
But he hung a slider to Max Stassi, who belted it out to left for a two-run homer in the fourth.
Gilbert couldn’t get out of the sixth inning. He wound up walking Jose Rojas after an 11-pitch battle, leaving Gilbert at a career-high 110 pitches.
That prompted a call to reliever Joe Smith with two on and the Mariners clinging to a two-run lead. It didn’t last.
The Angels quickly tied the score at 4-4 on a Stassi single and Luis Rengifo’s sacrifice fly.
The Mariners came right back in the top of the seventh and retook the lead. Jake Fraley scored on a throwing error at home, and Mitch Haniger’s sac fly scored J.P. Crawford to make it 6-4.
The Angels made it 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh on Jake Mayfield’s RBI single.
Ty France hit his 18th homer of the season in the first inning for the Mariners, and he added a RBI single in the third.