If this season turns around for the Mariners and, let’s dream here, produces a long-overdue postseason berth, then remember what happened Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Mariners twice trailed by four runs.
Their top power threat, Nelson Cruz, was reduced to serving as a pinch-hitter because of the no-DH rules and a still-sore left hamstring. They lost their All-Star second baseman, Robinson Cano, in the fourth inning due to a strained right quad.
And they still managed to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 10-9.
Does this cancel out blowing that six-run lead in the ninth inning on April 9 in a 10-9 loss to the Angels in Anaheim? If not, it’s pretty close.
Only one prior time in their 41-year history did the Mariners erase two deficits of four or more runs in the same game.
Ben Gamel set career highs with four hits and four RBIs, but his best moment might have been his his throw to the plate for an inning-ending double play in the eighth inning that kept the game tied.
Taylor Motter, who replaced Cano, produced the winning run with a two-out RBI double in the ninth inning. That scored Jean Segura, who had his sixth straight multi-hit game.
Four scoreless one-inning outings from the bullpen bailed out a fastball-happy Ariel Miranda and an ineffective Jean Machi.
"I think it speaks volumes for this team as a whole," Gamel said. "Everyone was grinding through at-bats all night long. We were shooting balls to left field and right field. Just kept going and kept going."
Three takeaways from Tuesday’s victory:
***Philly loves Chooch: Catcher Carlos Ruiz was treated by the oft-vilified Philly fans as a returning hero. It’s similar to the affection that Mariners fans have for Dan Wilson as a steady contributor on a series of good teams.
This was Ruiz’s first trip back to Citizens Bank Park since a trade last August sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Mariners acquired him in a November trade.
"I don’t know what it’s going to be like," Ruiz said in a pregame news conference. "I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s going to be special for me."
The Phillies played a video tribune to Ruiz midway through the third inning that brought loud cheers from the crowd. When he entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, the score was tied, but the crowd again stood and applauded.
More than that, reliever Pat Neshek stepped away from the mound, and catcher Cameron Rupp stepped away from the plate. The dual gesture allowed Ruiz a moment to himself in front of the Philly fans.
"If you play hard," Ruiz said, "they’ll love you."
***Gamel keeps making a case: Gamel went 4-for-5 and raised his average to .362 and his on-base percentage to .455. In 12 games since replacing injured Mitch Haniger in right field, Gamel has scored 12 runs and drive in 11.
Haniger is on track for a late May return from the disabled list and, when he returns, he’ll go back into the lineup. But it’s hard to see how the Mariners sit Gamel.
If Gamel keeps hitting, the odd-man out could be veteran center fielder Jarrod Dyson, who is only batting .208. Left fielder Guillermo Heredia could easily switch to center with Gamel replacing Heredia in left.
***Concerns for Cano: The Mariners don’t believe Cano will miss much time after exiting the game because of strained right quadriceps muscle — although he is unlikely to play in Wednesday’s series finale.
But…this bears watching. The Mariners are already dealing with a hobbled Cruz, who insists he’s getting better. Cruz should be able to resume his regular DH duties Thursday when the Mariners open a four-game series at Toronto.
Cano has been hot lately after a slow start. He is batting .321 over his last 20 games with six homers and 17 RBIs.
***Bonus takeaway: The only other time the Mariners overcame two deficits of four runs or more was June 12, 1997 in a 12-11 victory over Colorado at the Kingdome.
The Mariners trailed 6-0 and 10-6. Rockies reliever Jerry Dipoto was positioned for the victory before the Mariners erased the second deficit. He allowed two runs in 2 2/3 innings but handed off a 10-8 lead to start the seventh.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners