The Seattle Mariners didn’t have to just juggle their lineup Wednesday, they had to do the same with their coaching staff.
Due to a COVID-19 outbreak, manager Scott Servais and third-base coach Manny Acta were quarantined, leaving first-base coach Kristopher Negron to make his major-league managerial debut.
It worked out, as the Mariners defeated the visiting Texas Rangers 4-2 and will go for a sweep of the three-game series Thursday night with Negron still at the helm.
“That’s special,” he said of his first victory. “I mean, I didn’t know this was going to be happening (Wednesday). I always envisioned this as a possibility somewhere in the distant future or something like that. But no, it’s a great group of guys. The staff is amazing. The players are great, and thanks to all of them and thanks to skip (Servais). He was chatting with me all day.”
Hitting coach Tony Arnerich coached third, Triple-A coach Zach Vincej coached first, and minor-league hitting coordinator C.J. Gillman and special assignment coordinator Dan Wilson were in the dugout.
In addition to the coaches, the Mariners placed reliever Paul Sewald on the COVID-19 list. He followed outfielder Mitch Haniger and catcher Luis Torrens, who also tested positive in recent days.
Negron, who managed Triple-A Tacoma last season, got off to an unlikely start as the Mariners’ Jesse Winker lined into a triple play in the first inning of Wednesday’s game.
“Yeah, that was pretty crazy,” Negron said. “We were talking about it in the dugout. What are the odds that was going to happen in the first game that you manage? But that’s a tough read. Wink smoked that ball right at the first baseman, and he caught it just off the ground. It’s kind of just a tweener type of play. But no, definitely didn’t think that was going to happen day one.”
Right-hander Logan Gilbert pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings as the Mariners won for the fifth time in their past six games and sent the Rangers to their fifth consecutive defeat.
“It was kind of (a) weird night, honestly,” Gilbert said. “I don’t think I had my best stuff. I had things that worked good enough, I guess. I wouldn’t say anything was just like nails, but it was at times good enough.”
Texas has lost seven straight to the Mariners and 18 of its past 20 in Seattle.
Texas manager Chris Woodward lamented the bad breaks that are befalling his team.
“There’s just a couple of mistakes … we made a few mistakes and we got in our own way,” he said.
Left-hander Taylor Hearn (0-1, 4.70 ERA) is scheduled to start the series finale for the Rangers. In his most recent start, he lasted just 3 2/3 innings while giving up six hits and three runs in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. Hearn is 0-3 with a 6.20 ERA in 12 career appearances against Seattle, including three starts.
The Mariners plan to start lefty Marco Gonzales (1-1, 3.00), who allowed one run on four hits over seven innings in his last start, an 11-1 victory against Houston on Friday. In 16 career starts against the Rangers, he is 8-6 with a 3.73 ERA.
–Field Level Media