Kyle Seager had three run-scoring doubles Sunday when the Mariners salvaged the final game of their weekend series by beating Texas 7-3 at Globe Life Park.
Danny Valencia rocked a 434-foot homer that capped a four-run first inning against Rangers starter Yu Darvish, who labored through 99 pitches in just five innings.
Christian Bergman offered a strong bid to remain in the rotation by limiting the Rangers to two runs in 5 2/3 innings. It might not be enough with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma poised to return this week from the disabled list.
But it was reliever Nick Vincent who produced Sunday’s pivotal moment when, with the Mariners leading 5-3, he stranded three runners in the seventh inning by retiring Nomar Mazara on a fly to center field.
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"He just kept fouling stuff off, fastball and cutter, so we had to try something different," Vincent said. "We got to the 1-2 count, and Chooch (Ruiz) put down a changeup, and we got the pop-out to center field and got out of the jam."
Vincent remains the bullpen’s unsung hero. He followed his escape from that inherited jam in the seventh inning by working a one-two-three eighth. It was the 24th time in his last 25 outings that he’s held opponents scoreless.
His ERA is down to 1.95 — 1.13 since April 11.
Three takeaways from Sunday’s victory:
***Bergman’s bid: When manager Scott Servais praised Bergman’s effort while offering a "wait and see" answer regarding another start, it sounded much like Servais’ comments regarding long relievers about to be rotated out for a fresh arm.
Hernandez and Iwakuma appear lined up to return from the disabled list for starts next weekend against Houston. That means Bergman, who has options remaining, faces long odds to remain in the rotation.
"That doesn’t affect my job," he said. "My job is to go out and win games and contribute to the team. That’s what I’m going to do."
Sunday was Bergman’s eighth start since entering the rotation as a replacement part. In six of them, he permitted three runs or less (two or less in five of them). When he was bad, he got rocked in Washington and last time out in Minnesota.
"For the most part," Servais said, "he’s been very consistent. He throws the ball over the plate. When he’s on the edges and has good command of his fastball and cutter, good things usually happen."
***Too much tootblan: The chic acronym for bad baserunning is tootblan (thrown out on the bases like a nincompoop.) The Mariners made four outs Sunday on the bases, including three in a four-out span in the third and fourth innings.
This isn’t new.
The Mariners entered Sunday ranked last among all 30 clubs in BsR, a Fangraphs metric that converts all base-running plays into runs above and below average. The Mariners graded out, prior to Sunday, at minus-12.4 runs on the bases.
That number didn’t improve.
***Valencia’s pop: If Vincent is the bullpen’s unsung hero, Valencia might hold that status in the lineup. His two-run homer capped a four-run first inning that provided Bergman with a nice cushion before he threw a single pitch.
After a slow start, which followed a disappointing spring, Valencia is batting .308 in his last 46 games with seven homers and 33 RBIs.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners