Mariners host lowly D-backs, hope to keep moving up in playoff race

MLB

Despite losing two of three games in Houston earlier this week, the Seattle Mariners actually gained ground in the American League’s wild-card race.

The Mariners (76-64) rallied for an 8-5 victory against the Astros on Wednesday afternoon to pull within 2 1/2 games of their first postseason berth since 2001, the longest drought in the four major professional sports.

Seattle will return home to play a three-game interleague series with lowly Arizona (45-95) on Friday. The Diamondbacks were swept in a three-game series at home by the Mariners last weekend and have the worst record in the National League.

The Mariners overcame a gut-punch of a 5-4 loss in 10 innings to Houston on Tuesday, in which the Astros scored twice in the ninth to force extra innings, with Wednesday’s win.

Jarred Kelenic hit a two-run double in the seventh inning to tie the score at 4-4 and the Mariners scored four in the ninth — on a two-run single by Jose Marmolejos with two outs followed by a two-run homer by J.P. Crawford.

“You never would have known that we were in a tough game last night and weren’t able to get it done … the will to win that this team has is so unique,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

Two players acquired by Seattle just before the July 31 trade deadline came up big.

Abraham Toro hit a two-run double in the first inning and is batting .315 with four home runs and 23 RBIs for the Ms. And reliever Diego Castillo got the victory with three strikeouts in a scoreless eighth.

Left-hander Tyler Anderson, who came over from Pittsburgh in late July, failed to go five innings for the first time in 26 starts this season. But he didn’t get pounded, keeping the Mariners in the game.

“I just think that this team never really gets down,” Anderson said. “We get hit a couple of times like that, and when you show up (Wednesday), everybody’s in a good mood. Everybody’s ready to go. After (Monday’s loss), same thing. Everyone shows up every day. There’s no hangover effect.”

The Diamondbacks have lost 10 of their past 11 games, including an 8-5 decision against visiting Texas on Wednesday. They’re on pace to finish 52-110, which would be the second-worst mark in franchise history behind the 51-111 squad from 2004.

“I don’t give a (darn) about pace,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I just care about winning the ballgame (Friday). And that’s all I got in my mind. It’s all the coaches have on their mind. I’m sure it’s the same thing about the players. You know, we’re not here to set records, I can guarantee that.

“We’re in a fight. We’re in probably the fight of our lives. I don’t think anybody in this clubhouse has been through this at any point in their career. So that’s all we’ve got to do is just keep fighting. We’ve got to keep growing, keep learning.”

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (7-9, 4.52 ERA) is scheduled to start the series opener for Arizona. He’s 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in three career starts against Seattle. He didn’t get a decision last Friday in a 6-5 loss to the Mariners when he went six innings and allowed five runs on five hits with five walks and five strikeouts.

The Mariners are sending southpaw Marco Gonzales (7-5, 4.25 ERA) to the mound Friday. He’s 2-0 with a 5.00 ERA in three career games (one start) against Arizona, including a win over the D-backs last Saturday. He won despite giving up five runs on eight hits in five innings. Gonzales has won six straight decisions.

–Field Level Media

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