Reliever Evan Scribner pitched a scoreless eighth inning Friday that was easy to overlook after the Mariners threatened to squander a seven-run lead in the ninth before holding on for an 11-8 victory for the Angels.
Easy to overlook, perhaps, for everyone except Scribner, who spent the last year battling to overcome a re-strained right latissimus dorsi muscle in his back.
"It’s been a long year," he said. "I worked my way through the rehab. Even that was fun for me because I got to play again. I didn’t think I was going to play again this year, so to get all the way back here was pretty awesome."
Scribner initially suffered the injury last year on Aug. 31 while pitching for Oakland. He spent the winter in rehab activities and, after being traded to the Mariners in December, re-tore the same muscle in February.
"My first live (batting practice)," he said. "I rehabbed it all off-season. I was good to go in the spring, and the I (tore) it again in the first live BP. It was just slower to get back this time. Plus, we were trying to be a little extra cautious.
"There were many times when I thought (he wouldn’t make it back). I didn’t know how it was going to end up. There were bad days, and there were good days."
Friday was a good day.
The Mariners activated Scribner, 31, on Thursday from the 60-day disabled list after he made eight minor-league rehab appearances in August. He rolled through a one-two-three inning Friday on 12 pitches.
"He was kind of like exactly what was described and what we saw, a little, bit, in spring training," manager Scott Servais said. "A strike-thrower. Good command. Pretty good curveball. There are plenty of spot for him to help us."
Scribner was 5-2 with a 4.21 ERA in 125 big-league games over the previous five seasons. He walked just four batters last season in 60 innings for Oakland but surrendered an astonishing 14 homers.
The Mariners acquired him in a deal for minor-league pitcher Trey Cochran-Gill in the belief the command was genuine but the homers allowed were an outlier. Scribner came to spring camp all but ensured of a job in the bullpen.
Then the right lat tore again. It wasn’t until mid-August that he felt like his old self.
"The first couple of times (on the rehab assignment)," he said, "I wasn’t even worried about what was going on. I just wanted to feel that my arm was good.
"Once I got to Tacoma, and once I got one or two (appearances) there, I felt like, `OK, I can actually worry about my pitches more than worry about how I’m feeling.’ Once I got to that point, I was pretty good to go."
***Right-hander reliever Drew Storen should be activated from the disabled list prior to Sunday’s series finale. He pitched one scoreless inning Friday for Tacoma as a test in his recovery from a sore shoulder.
Catcher Jesus Sucre joined the Mariners prior to Saturday’s game — one day after he was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma. He missed Friday’s game in order to be present at the birth of his daughter.
"I’ve been kind of busy the last two days," he said through a grin. "It’s just me and my wife here. So I appreciate Felix (Hernandez) and Guti (Franklin Gutierrez), their wives have been there to help. Felix’s wife took care of my older boy."
Sucre’s wife, Beriuska, gave birth to Samara, who arrived healthy on Friday night and weighing 6 pounds and 6 ounces.
"My wife is still in the hospital because they did a (Caesarian)," Sucre said. "She’s going to be there for two more nights."
But Beriuska is doing well enough that Sucre felt comfortable in returning to duty.
Sucre, 28, batted .273 in 29 games at Tacoma after missing nearly three months while recovering from a broken leg suffered Jan. 17 while playing winter ball in Venezuela.
He has a .176 average in 84 big-league games over the last four seasons, including 1-for-8 in three games earlier this season.
OPTING AGAIN FOR GAMEL
Newcomer Ben Gamel, a left-handed hitter, drew his second straight start Saturday against a left-handed pitcher. Gamel again batted leadoff, but he shifted from right field to left field to accommodate Gutierrez.
Servais opted for Gamel over Guillermo Heredia, a right-handed hitter, in left field. Gamel and Seth Smith, a left-handed hitter, are expected to start Sunday against Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker.
Gamel reached base three times Friday in five plate appearances in his first game since being acquired Wednesday from the New York Yankees for minor-league pitchers Jio Orozco and Juan De Paula.
Servais faces another decision Tuesday, when veteran outfielder Nori Aoki, a left-handed hitter, is expected to be recalled from Tacoma. Gamel, Smith and Aoki will be vying for two spots in future games against right-handed pitchers.
LEE ON UPSWING
First baseman Dae- Ho Lee continues to show signs that his brief demotion to Triple-A Tacoma revitalized his swing.
Lee went 3-for-5 in Friday’s 11-8 victory over the Angels and is on a 8-for-14 surge over his last three games.
"I feel good," he said. "I’m making contact, and my swing is good. I’ve got confidence again."
Lee was in a 4-for-51 funk when optioned Aug. 19 to the Tacoma, where he went 14-for-27 in seven games.
"He’s going back to just trying to be a hitter," Servais said, "instead of trying to hit homers or drive the ball. You’ve seen the at-bats. They’ve been much better."
Lee’s recent surge boosted his average to .260 entering Saturday’s game with 13 homers and 44 RBIs in 89 games. His OPS+ (on-base plus slugging percentage adjusted to ballpark factors) was 109. (The league average is 100.)
Peoria won the Arizona Rookie League championship Friday with a 3-1 victory over the Angels in Tempe that completed a two-game sweep in their best-of-three series.
First baseman Ryan Uhl broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Dylan Thompson, Carlos Hernandez and David Ellingson limited the Angels to four hits.
Peoria is the organization’s second affiliate to complete its season. The Dominican Mariners suffered a 2-1 loss in 10 innings Friday to the Red Sox 1 in the third game of their best-of-three series in the Dominican Summer League.
The Mariners’ other five affiliates have also clinched postseason berths but have yet to complete their regular seasons.
It was 35 years ago Sunday — Sept. 4, 1981 — that the Mariners swept a double-header of sorts at Fenway Park.
They won the first game 8-7 in the 20th inning on Joe Simpson’s two-out RBI triple against Bob Stanley. The game had been suspended earlier that morning at 1 a.m. after 19 innings because of the American League’s curfew.
That first game lasted 6 hours and 1 minute and was, at that time, the longest in Fenway’s then-69-year history.
The Mariners then won the regularly scheduled game 5-2 behind Julio Cruz’s three-run homer against Frank Tanana.
Lefty James Paxton tested the repair nail on his middle finger Saturday by throwing a normal between-starts bullpen workout. Barring a setback, he is scheduled to start Tuesday against Texas…the Mariners, on Friday, recorded their sixth comeback victory when trailing by four or more runs. That is the third-highest total in franchise history. The 1996 club did it nine times, and the 2006 club did it seven times…the Mariners scored nine runs in the second inning Friday without an extra-base hit. They did the same thing June 2 in a nine-run inning at San Diego. No other club this season has scored nine or more runs in an inning even once without an extra-base hit.
The Mariners and Angels conclude their three-game series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (14-10 with a 4.01 ERA) will face Los Angeles right-hander Matt Shoemaker (9-13, 3.91).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on the Mariners Radio Network, which includes 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners