The Seattle Mariners surged into the American League West race by pairing the best pitching in the majors with the most productive lineup in the league.
However, only one element was clicking on Friday night against the host New York Mets, who again impacted the AL West race.
The Mariners will look to avoid building a rare losing streak on Saturday night when they oppose the Mets in the middle game of a three-game set.
Right-hander Luis Castillo (11-7, 3.01 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Mariners against left-hander David Peterson (3-7, 5.23).
The Mets earned a 2-1 win in the series opener Friday night when Daniel Vogelbach delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning.
The loss was just the third in 16 games for the Mariners (76-58), who remained in a virtual tie for first place in the AL West with Houston (77-59) by virtue of the Astros’ 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees. The Texas Rangers (75-59) remained one game behind in third place after falling 5-1 to the Minnesota Twins.
The Mariners fell for just the eighth time this season when allowing two or fewer runs. At 3.18, Seattle posted the lowest ERA in the majors in July and August combined.
However, the Mariners, who entered Friday with an AL-best .816 OPS since July 1, went hitless in 12 at-bats with a runner on base in the series opener. J.P. Crawford accounted for Seattle’s lone run with a leadoff homer in the fourth.
The Mariners had two runners in the ninth against Drew Smith, who picked off pinch runner Jose Caballero for the first out before striking out Ty France to strand another pinch runner, Cade Marlowe.
“We’re going to play a lot of close games — we’re not going to win all of them,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “To win close games, you’ve got to make plays defensively and you’ve got to get a big hit. They got it, we didn’t.”
The win was the second straight over an AL West contender for the Mets, who edged the Rangers 6-5 in 10 innings on Wednesday. That victory was highlighted by a 3-2-4 double play in the 10th that allowed Jeff Brigham to wriggle out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam.
The Mets (62-73), who are eight games out of the last NL wild-card spot after going 101-61 last season, displayed a fundamentally sound approach again in the eighth inning on Friday.
Francisco Lindor had a leadoff single, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Vogelbach’s single to left field capped a nine-pitch battle against Andres Munoz.
“Bodes well for us in the future if we don’t give in to this lure of mediocrity,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said Friday.
Castillo earned a win on Sunday when he tossed seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball as the Mariners edged the Kansas City Royals 3-2. He walked one and struck out six. Castillo is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in three career starts against the Mets.
Peterson didn’t factor into the decision on Sunday after allowing one run on three hits over seven innings in the Mets’ 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels. He struck out eight and walked three. Peterson has never opposed the Mariners.
–Field Level Media