HOUSTON — The Mariners are returning home triumphantly.
They finished off a nine-game road trip in style Wednesday evening, rallying on home runs from Cal Raleigh and Ty France and defeating AL-West leading Houston 6-3 at Minute Maid Park.
What did it mean?
It meant a 6-3 road trip, their fourth straight series victory and they did it at a ballpark where they were 4-26 in their previous games entering the series.
It was Seattle’s first series win in Houston since September 2018, so the Mariners will be coming home with smiles and confidence.
“Heck of a road trip and a great way to cap it off today,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We have taken our lumps in this ballpark, but guys really stepped up.”
It is certainly a different feeling than their last return home from a road trip. That one ended with the Mariners going 3-7 after getting swept in a four-game series at Boston.
Unlike Tuesday night when both starting pitchers — Houston’s Justin Verlander and Seattle’s Chris Flexen — were on top of their game, it was a good night for the hitters.
And Seattle’s in particular.
Mariners starter Logan Gilbert entered the game having allowed one run in his past two starts over 13 innings but was not sharp early. Still, I have persevered through six innings and a season-high 109 pitches.
Houston’s Jose Urquidy, roughed up in Seattle less than two weeks ago when he gave up six runs, 12 hits and two walks in just 4 2/3 innings, was not much better Wednesday. He was gone after 4 1/3 innings, having allowed five runs.
Gilbert had command issues early, with a leadoff walk and a wild pitch to start his outing leading to a run.
Mariners center fielder Julio Rodriguez saved a run in the second inning with a nice catch at the wall on a drive from Martin Maldonado.
The defense saved another run in the third inning, when Jose Altuve was thrown out at home, trying to score on Alex Bregman’s single to left. But left fielder Jesse Winker’s throw was on the money, beating Altuve by a few steps.
That was the second out, but Gilbert could not escape without damage as Yordan Alvarez hit a run-scoring double to left-center and scored on Kyle Tucker’s soft single to right field.
That gave Houston a short-lived lead. Because in the top of the fourth, Raleigh hit his second homer of the series, a two-run blast, and two hitters later France hit a homer just over the wall in left field.
“Offensively, I don’t know if there was a bigger hit today than Cal Raleigh’s home run to kind of get us back in the game,” Servais said. “And Ty followed that one up a little later, so nice job offensively.”
The Mariners scored in the fifth when Adam Frazier’s sacrifice fly drove home Crawford, who led off the inning with a walk, and it ended Urquidy’s night.
Staked to a lead, Gilbert kept it. He threw three scoreless innings to end his night, working around runners on base in each of them.
“Logan Gilbert was maybe not as sharp as he has been, but he figures out a way to extend his pitch count a little bit, and it was critical to try and get him to work through the sixth inning and line up our bullpen guys after that,” Servais said. “So heck of an effort by Logan to hang in there.”
Gilbert said he “felt a little bit off directionally.”
“I was kind of fighting myself throughout the game,” he said. “…It was tough out there. A lot of pitches, a lot of base runners on. I wasn’t super efficient, but I found a way to get through six (innings). It means something.”
Relievers Andres Munoz, Paul Sewald and Diego Castillo — aided by another run in the eighth — took care of the rest with little drama.
“That’s about as good as we’ve seen Munoz in quite some time, Diego is really feeling it and Paul is Paul, and you look up and we’ve won two of three,” Servais said.
The Mariners (26-31) get a day off before facing Boston in a three-game series at T-Mobile Park, giving them extra time to savor this victory.
“It was a complete game,” Servais said. “We played well defensively, we got big hits and a heck of a road trip. I am really ecstatic we’ve won four series in a row and we are moving the ball in the right direction. We’ve still chipping away and we’ve still got work to do, but we did exactly what we needed to do on this trip.”