From the Mariners dugout, after watching Texas knock the baseball to all corners of Safeco Field — and twice, out of it — Jarrod Dyson figured his time was coming.
On his day off, he began stretching his legs out in the sixth inning.
By the ninth inning, his entire body was warmed up. It was go time.
Everyone around the big leagues knows about Dyson’s wheels: He is as fast as any outfielder in baseball, and he can single-handedly impact any game, especially late.
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Dyson started the final-inning rally that Nelson Cruz finished — with a walk-off RBI infield single — and Seattle tripped up Texas, 8-7, in front of 19,678 at Safeco Field on Sunday afternoon.
With the come-from-behind win, the Mariners swept a series from the AL West champions for the first time since 2015.
“A lot went into today’s win,” said Seattle manager Scott Servais, who watched the exciting conclusion from the clubhouse after he was ejected at the end of the sixth inning.
“It was a big one for us.”
Indeed, it was. And this did not feel like an ordinary game. It was full of tension, urgency, anger — and, ultimately, determination not to lose more ground in the difficult AL West.
Starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was gone after the third inning, his shortest career home start. He lasted three innings in a Safeco Field start in 2013 against the Boston Red Sox
It was the sixth time in a career start that Iwakuma has failed to last more than three innings. The last time that happened was against the Rangers on Aug. 29 in Arlington, Texas.
Pitching on seven days of rest, Iwakuma gave up a three-run homer to former Mariners outfielder Sin-Soo Choo in the second inning, and a two-run double to him an inning later.
When Iwakuma departed after 52 pitches, Seattle trailed, 6-1.
But the Mariners quickly got back into it behind the bustling power bat of Mitch Haniger, who they acquired in an offseason trade with Arizona.
Haniger blasted a three-run shot to left field off Cole Hamels in the third inning, and suddenly it was 6-4.
Leading off the sixth, Guillermo Heredia tied it at 6-6 with a solo blast to left field.
Even after Haniger robbed Joey Gallo of potential two-run homer in the eighth inning, the Rangers took an 8-7 lead on Nomar Mazara’s towering shot off closer Edwin Diaz to kick off the ninth.
Power is impactful. But so is speed.
Dyson got on base with an infield single to start the ninth for the Mariners. Then his speed took over.
“Speed puts pressure on the whole defense, along with the pitcher, because everyone is paying attention, and wondering when you are going (to steal),” Dyson said.
“We are down one (run), and I am on base with no outs? I am looking to go — and go early.”
He did, easily stealing second off Rangers closer Sam Dyson. It was his 16th consecutive stolen base, dating back to last season.
Leonys Martin got down a bunt in between third baseman Gallo and the Texas reliever along the left side for an infield single, and suddenly the Mariners were in business.
Haniger took a no-out, bases-loaded walk to tie the game at 7-7.
“Dyson has got a good sinker, but … that one started to go low,” Haniger said. “I just shut it down to take (the pitch).”
And two batters later, Cruz hit a hard grounder that Elvis Andrus barely got his glove on at shortstop. Mike Freeman, who drew a walk while pinch-hitting for Heredia, came in with the winning run from third.
Afterward, Servais admitted he felt a little more fire than usual during his sixth-inning encounter with first-base umpire C.B. Bucknor, who signaled a foul ball on a Martin grounder, only to reverse the call seconds later.
Servais went nose-to-nose with Bucknor, and was ejected for the second time as Seattle’s manager.
“It has been a rough start to our season. And we are starting to get some momentum going,” Servais said. “I talked to the players about dialing up the intensity — and the coaches, and myself — because these games are all important.”
Play of the game
Which big Haniger play do you want — his three-run homer in the third inning to cut into a big Texas lead, or his over-the-wall grab to rob Gallo of a potential home run in the eighth, or his heady bases-loaded walk to tie the game in the ninth? They all played a role.
Haniger hit his team-leading fourth home run off Hamels. He continues to be the team’s best all-around run producer. … Heredia scored a career-high three runs, and hit his first home run of the season. … Six Seattle relievers gave up one run on two hits in six innings of work.
Even after seven days of rest, Iwakuma had nothing in the tank. He gave up six earned runs in tying the shortest Safeco Field start of his career. … Diaz surrendered a go-ahead solo shot to Mazara to lead off the ninth inning — after not even coming close on two pitches in the strike zone.
Haniger extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games. … Kyle Seager’s hitting streak reached six games after his sixth-inning double. ... Cruz’s streak also reached six games after his first-inning single. … Dyson has been successful in his past 16 stolen-base attempts, dating back to last season.
Reliever Tony Zych made his season debut Sunday, facing two batters in the seventh inning. He got Carlos Gomez to fly out to right field, but gave up a sharp single to Andrus. … Injured shortstop Jean Segura (hamstring) has started to run inside on the treadmill, but has not cut loose sprinting on the base paths outside. Still, Servais expects his leadoff hitter to return this week when his 10 days on the DL are up. … Reliever Steve Cishek (hip) left Sunday for a rehab stint with Double-A Arkansas. Servais expects the right-hander to make three or four appearances before the big league team evaluates where he is.
“When (Servais) got tossed, it kind of fired everyone up.” — M’s outfielder Jarrod Dyson