Julio Rodriguez scored a home run while Robbie Ray struck out a season-high 12, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 2-1 victory against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
Rodriguez homered on Frankie Montas’ first pitch, driving in both runs. It was the 12th first-pitch homer in Mariners history, with nine of them recorded by Ichiro Suzuki. He danced his way into the batter’s box in his second at-bat, which did not go unnoticed by Mariners general manager Scott Servais. Check out the best bookmakers for betting on baseball.
“If I was 21 and I was hitting .280, I’d be dancing in the batter’s box, too,” he said. “I have no idea what that feels like. I’m really happy for him and it rubs off on the rest of our team.”
Meanwhile, Andrez Munoz struck out three in the eighth while Paul Sewald completed nine innings, throwing a third strike past pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt for his ninth save in 11 chances. Munoz and Sewald combined with Ray on a four-hitter to strike out 16 batters.
“Munoz has been just electric,” Servais said.
Ray was another player who significantly helped the team. He reached 1,400 strikeouts by fanning Ramon Laureano and Christian Bethancourt back-to-back in the third inning while also reaching double play for the fourth time this season.
It was a good start, and it helped the Mariners secure their fifth win in six games and their tenth win in the last 13 series.
Ray allowed a seventh-inning homer by Elvis Andrus of the Athletics on his 107th and final pitch, ending Ray’s 18-inning scoreless streak. He added a two-seam fastball after struggling at the beginning of this season.
“That’s helped out a ton,” Ray said. “I think, for me, the two-seam has been a very crucial pitch. It’s not only been a good pitch, but it’s made my other pitches better, and I think that’s the biggest thing.”
“Keep riding the Robbie Ray train is what we will continue to do because he’s really good and it’s fun to watch,” Servais said.
After Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, Ray became the second pitcher in the Mariners’ history to allow three or fewer runs with 40 or more strikeouts over a five-game span. Ray struck out 40 and walked nine since June 12, a stretch of 33 2/3 innings. His ERA is 0.80 through that period.
Montas left after the first due to what Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said about the tightness in the back of Montas’ shoulder. He threw 13 pitches, and his fastball averaged 93.8 mph, down from the previous 96,2 mph.
Athletics reliever Austin Pruitt retired 13 batters, striking out the side in the fourth and getting two more batters in the fifth inning. Meanhwile, Dylan Moore from the Mariners singled with one out in the sixth and scored on Rodriguez’s double to the left-center gap for a lead by 2-0. Pruitt managed to strike out six batters in 4 1/3 innings.
“That was a big-league performance by Pruitt coming in there,” Kotsay said. “Right up until that last hitter with Rodriguez, he pretty much went right through that lineup and gave us a chance to stay in that game.
”The Athletics’ Laureano belted two home runs, a three-run opposite-field blast to right to even the game at 4 in the fifth inning, and another in the ninth to cut the Mariners’ lead to 8-6.
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