SEATTLE — The Mariners’ bullpen was one of the main reasons the team was in postseason contention last year, but relief pitching can be a volatile business. Much of this early season has been a scramble to get the right mix back in place.
Seattle has gotten creative with its ‘pen-manship, and things are solidifying as summer approaches. Despite a small hiccup on Saturday night, the relief corps and two clutch game-tying hits by Abraham Toro set the team up for a dramatic 7-6 win that came on Dylan Moore’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.
“The young guys are getting the experience,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “They’re getting a ton of confidence. So are the guys who have been around a little bit. And that’s what it takes to win these close games. You’ve got to keep it right there, and everybody’s got to chip in in the bullpen.
“And they’re all going to get a chance to pitch.”
The final ninth-inning push came after the Red Sox had taken a 6-5 lead in the ninth when a slider from closer Paul Sewald caught too much of the plate and a bit too much of Bobby Dalbec’s bat. The Boston slugger put it about a foot over the outstretched glove of Seattle left fielder Jesse Winker and over the wall.
But overall, the Mariners sent out four relievers after five innings by rookie starter George Kirby, with Penn Murfee, Ryan Borucki, Diego Castillo and Sewald pitching an inning apiece. The final tally for the ‘pen was four innings, two hits, one run and five strikeouts.
In other words, that will work.
“I think the bullpen ‘struggles,’ quote unquote, were exaggerated, magnified because they were just the first month of the season,” Sewald said. “Everything looks magnified. And, you know, it’s ‘man overboard’ when it’s the first month of the season.
“No one down there really had any concerns that we weren’t going to lock it back in, and guys have just done a great job.”
Meanwhile, Toro did a great job in making the most of…