CF Shawn O’Malley, who came on as a pinch hitter in the seventh, delivered a two-run, two-out single with the bases loaded the eighth inning to break the hearts of the playoff-contending Houston Astros with a 6-4 Mariners win Tuesday night at Safeco (box score). Seattle (74-84) snapped a six-game losing streak, while the Astros fell out of the second wild-card spot.
After two singles and a walk loaded the bases after two were out in the eighth, O’Malley came through. That was all closer Tom Wilhelmsen needed in earning his first win since May.
Starter Vidal Nuno got through five innings, which is about all the Mariners needed from their reliever-stocked rotation. Nuno allowed three runs and left with the Mariners trailing 3-2. J.C. Ramirez gave up a run before manager Lloyd McClendon aptly used his bullpen to get extra work out of setup man Carson Smith and closer Wilhelmsen – the latter working 1.2 innings to earn the win.
2B Robinson Cano delivered a score-tying, two-run homer in the sixth. Seattle played small-ball in the first with two sacrifice flies for a 2-1 lead.
“Our team has a very good core to build on. There are opportunities here to get this team winning and back to the playoffs quickly. We have holes, we need roster changes, but we are not far off.” – Mariners president Kevin Mather, during the introductory press conference for new GM Jerry DiPoto
LHP James Paxton has thrown his last pitch of the season. McClendon said before the game that Paxton’s torn fingernail will prevent him from making another start. Paxton probably won’t pitch again until the Arizona Fall League . . . The solo homer that Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez hit in in the fifth was only the second one allowed by Seattle LHP Vidal Nuno this month. Four of Nuno’s nine starts have come in September; during five August starts, Nuno served up nine home runs.
The last meaningful game played at Safeco Field this season is 7:10 p.m. Wednesday when the playoff-contending Astros send LHP Scott Kazmir (7-11, 2.97 ERA) to the mound to face the playing-out-the-string Mariners. McClendon hasn’t named a starter. The Paxton injury will force him to tap his bullpen for a pitch-by-committee system. Among the current relievers, only 38-year-old LHP Joe Beimel, with 23, has made more than three career starts, but his last one came in July 2002. Closer Tom Wilhelmsen was the most recent fill-in starter, with two last season, but he pitched Tuesday night. RHP Logan Kensing, RHP Mayckol Guaipe or LHP David Rollins could be the first; whoever it is, he won’t go past the third inning.