Here was the Mariners’ reputed organizational depth and roster flexibility in action and lifting them to their first winning road series of the season.
Ben Gamel delivered a tie-breaking single (VIDEO LINK) in the ninth inning Thursday afternoon that lifted the Mariners to a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
The Mariners recalled Gamel a day earlier from Triple-A Tacoma after an injury forced right fielder Mitch Haniger to the disabled list.
Edwin Diaz closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth as the Mariners made it two in a row after absorbing a 19-9 pounding in Tuesday’s series opener.
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The game ended with super utilityman Taylor Motter — he merits that, right — sprinting over from first base, reaching over the tarp and into the stands (VIDEO LINK) to catch a foul pop amid the fans.
"I thought it was a foul ball," Diaz marveled. "Then everybody started looking. So I started looking. That catch was amazing."
Add, too, a web-gem catch by left fielder Guillermo Heredia (VIDEO LINK) in blunting a Detroit threat in the first inning along with an impactful return to the lineup by third baseman Kyle Seager, who drove in one run and scored the other.
"Today was an all-around good win," Motter said. "When you have a game like that, and you scratch across two and only give them one, it’s a good day."
The Mariners outlasted Detroit ace Justin Verlander, who exited (VIDEO LINK) after allowing one unearned run in seven innings. He gave up five hits and two walks while striking out eight in a 119-pitch effort.
"Our guys," manager Scott Servais said, "really grinded at-bats out against Verlander, who was on top of his game today."
Tigers reliever Justin Wilson struck out the side in the eighth inning before Seager started the winning rally with a one-out double in the ninth against Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez.
"We’ve got the reports and all of that stuff," Seager said, "but he’s tough. He jumps at you. The changeup is so good. He attacks you in a lot of different ways. He’s gotten me, I think, every other time I’ve faced him."
(That’s Seager being modest. He was actually 1-for-4 against K-Rod with an RBI single, although two the outs were strikeouts.)
Gamel then used Seager’s at-bat as a model.
"Kyle had a great at-bat right before me," Gamel said. "I was kind of watching how K-Rod was pitching him. I kind of knew what to look for, and I got my pitch."
That was the difference.
Diaz closed it out for his third save — with an assist from Motter on James McCann’s foul pop with a runner on first base.
"The only thing that was in my head," Motter said, "is I knew the tarp was coming up soon. I either catch it or the tarp is going to take me out before I get there."
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma pitched into the sixth inning before the Mariners went to the bullpen. He also gave up just one unearned run.
Marc Rzepczynski and Tony Zych produced 2 1/3 scoreless innings as a bridge to Diaz. Zych (1-0) got the victory. Rodriguez (1-2) was the loser. Diaz got his third save in four chances.
Iwakuma and Verlander matched zeroes through five innings before Nelson Cruz floated a one-out pop into short right field in the sixth inning.
Right fielder Jim Adduci initially caught the ball (VIDEO LINK) but dropped it when he collided with center fielder Tyler Collins.
It was initially scored a double but changed to an error on Collins.
All that mattered was the Cruz ended up on second. Seager followed by a serving a soft single (VIDEO LINK) into center that scored Cruz for the game’s first run.
The lead didn’t last.
Collins opened the Detroit sixth with a double past Gamel in right. After Nick Castellanos struck out, Victor Martinez just missed a homer on a fly to right.
Martinez then hit a grounder to second baseman Robinson Cano, positioned in short right field. Cano went into a slide (VIDEO LINK) for a backhand stab at the ball, which caromed off his glove and rolled several feet away.
Collins scored easily on the error.
It stayed 1-1 until the ninth.
PLAY(S) OF THE GAME: Take your pick.
Heredia helped bail out Iwakuma from a two-on, one-out jam in the first inning with a sliding catch on Martinez’s foul pop after a long run.
Motter ended the game by tumbling over the tarp and reaching into the stands to catch McCann’s foul pop.
PLUS: Seager went 2-for-4 in his first start since April 21. Asked about his sore right hip, he said: "It’s good. No issue."…Gamel had two singles in his four at-bats…Rzepczynski retired both batters faced. He has allowed just one hit in 6 1/3 scoreless innings this season in nine appearances.
MINUS: Cano had a costly error that produced Detroit’s only run. It was his first error of the season…Jarrod Dyson has seen Verlander more than anyone on the Mariners. It didn’t help. He went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts…catcher Carlos Ruiz failed to get a glove on a hard-breaking pitch by Zych, and the ball hit him flush on his big right toe. Ruiz shook it off and finished the game.
STAT PACK: The Mariners limited the Tigers to one unearned run and eight hits over the last two games after giving up 19 runs and 24 hits in the series opener.
QUOTABLE: "We’re going to keep playing those (young) guys," Servais said. "They do have ability. They’re young, but the only way to get experience in this league is to play.
"We have to create opportunities for all of the guys. Heredia has stepped up. Gamel a nice day today. We’ll get (Dan) Vogelbach back in there. These guys are going to contribute."
SHORT HOPS: Rain delayed the start of the game by 45 minutes…the Mariners have won three of their last four road games after a 1-9 start…Verlander has 10 straight quality starts against the Mariners but is just 4-3 in that stretch.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners