WASHINGTON – Circumstances were not ideal. The decision making that went into the timing of the day left her a little upset. The effects probably won’t be felt as much on Thursday when they play Rangers in Texas, but likely on Friday or Saturday because that’s how heavy bullpen use and lack of sleep impact.
But winning makes everything easier to bear.
Despite the unintended inconvenience of Wednesday’s split doubleheader in the mid-Atlantic heat and the delayed trip to Dallas-Fort Worth, the Mariners depart the nation’s capital after beating the Nationals in the two-game series with no-nonsense execution.
After a 6-4 win that didn’t come close until the last inning of the opening game, the Mariners wrapped up the win with a 2-1 victory in the sparsely crowded nightcap at Nationals Park.
“We’re going to sleep well tonight,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “It’s a long day of baseball and I can’t say enough about how proud I am of our boys today, battling it out all day. It’s hard to sweep a doubleheader. It’s really. You need many things to go your way. You need great pitching, good defence, some timely hits and we had it all going today.
Her winning streak has reached double digits in 10 games. This is only the fourth time in franchise history that the Mariners have gone on a 10-game winning streak. The last time this happened was in 2002 (April 8-17). The other two times were a 10-game streak in 1996 (September 12–21) and a 15-game winning streak in 2001 (May 23–June 8).
“It’s hard to win 10 games in a row,” said Servais. “I give our boys a lot of credit. They have a very unique mission right now: show up every day and compete against each other. We have a lot of talent in this space and it’s starting to come together.”
Since June 19, when a lackluster 4-0 loss capped a terrible 8-3 at home, dropped them 29-39 and fans clamored for someone to lose his job, the Mariners have gone 18 of their last 21 games won to improve 47-42. The last time they were five games over .500 was on April 26 when Logan Gilbert defeated the Rays to improve the Mariners’ record to 11-6.
As well as they’ve been playing since and how brutally awful the Nationals are this season — think 2010’s Mariners — sweeping the doubleheader even after they won the opening game wasn’t a given.
Given the heat and the late-night flight to Texas, it would have been easy to lose focus. But these Mariners don’t want to give away games, innings on the mound, outs in the field, or at-bats.
“We can’t afford to say anything about where we are in our season and our turnaround here,” Servais said. “It was driven by a number of different things, but I said it from day one: our guys come in every day and they’re preparing and they’re ready to compete. I don’t care who’s after us on the other side. You are ready to go. We find a way and it’s a different guy every day. That’s what good teams do.”
After George Kirby moved to Tacoma to control his workload, the Mariners went into the rotation with a bullpen start, with Erik Swanson as the opener, in the nightcap.
Four relievers — Swanson threw two scoreless innings as the “opener,” veteran left-hander Tommy Milone followed with 3 1/3 innings of shutout as the “bulk” reliever, and Matt Brash and Diego Castillo together held the Nationals without a run for 2 2/ 3 – allowed the Mariners to take a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning.
The Mariners called on right-hander Paul Sewald, who made the save in the opening game, to end the nightcap. After giving Juan Soto a mammoth solo homer, Sewald worked the rest of the inning without conceding a run to make his second save of the day and 12th to the season.
“Thank God we had a two-run cushion there,” said Servais.
Since Mike Schooler on May 6, 1989, he is the first Mariners reserve to make two saves on either end of a doubleheader.
The Mariners offense was provided by two players who would love to see them play at their former level – Jesse Winker and Adam Frazier. Both had solid days at the record in both games. Winker smashed a solo homer in the sixth inning to break a 0-0 tie and Frazier added a sack fly later in the inning to provide offense.
Showing off a new setup on the plate and some adjustments he was working on during his suspension, Winker hit impressive solo homers to reach right center in each of the games.
“Believe Wink a lot of credit,” Servais said. “He’s been working on a few things and making a few adjustments. We saw her today.”
Frazier, who had better at-bats on the homestand, had four hits in seven at-bats with two RBIs, including a solo homer in the first game and a stolen base.
“The best day he’s had in a long time,” said Servais. “Even the outs he made were tons.”
BOX RESULT (Game 1)
BOX RESULT (Game 2)