Ben Gamel’s tie-breaking single in the ninth inning Thursday afternoon enabled the Mariners to win their first road series of the season with a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
There was much to like. (VIDEO LINK)
While the Mariners didn’t produce much against Detroit ace Justin Verlander, they grinded through at-bats and forced him to throw 119 pitches in seven innings. That got them into the Tigers’ vulnerable bullpen.
Hisashi Iwakuma and the three relievers limited Detroit to four hits, and the Mariners made two sparkling catches on foul pops.
Left fielder Guillermo Heredia helped pull Iwakuma out of a first-inning jam, and utilityman Taylor Motter, who started at first base, ended the game by reaching past the tarp and into the stands for a catch.
Three takeaways from Thursday’s victory:
***Resilience-plus: If Wednesday’s 8-0 victory behind James Paxton showed resilience after getting pounded 19-9 in the series opener, then outlasting an in-form Verlander was resilience plus something more.
Look this was a crippled Detroit lineup without Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez, but that lineup produced 19 runs and 24 hits on Tuesday before going silent: one unearned run and eight hits over the last two days.
It will be interesting to whether the Mariners can carry this roll into their three-game weekend series at Cleveland.
***Eddie and the boys: The Mariners closed out their victory with 3 1/3 scoreless innings from the bullpen after a solid start from Iwakuma.
It’s particularly notable that closer Edwin Diaz, who pitched a scoreless ninth, has permitted just one run in five innings over five appearances since that April 9 collapse at Anaheim.
Lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski continues to sparkle, and right-hander Tony Zych could be ready to start grabbing some of the higher-leverage situations that had been going to struggling Evan Scribner.
***Seager back at it: Third baseman Kyle Seager didn’t start the previous four games because of a sore right hip. He made an impact in his return to the lineup by driving in one run and scoring the other.
Much like Robinson Cano, Seager’s production this season remains at least mildly disappointing. He is batting just .262 and still doesn’t have a home run.
Seager is, traditionally, a slow starter. Maybe Thursday was more than just a return to the lineup. The Mariners hope it signals a return to form.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners