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Back in California, M's win another series

The Mariners completed their latest road trip of inefficient mileage—Anaheim-Minneapolis-Oakland—at 5-4, their first over-.500 road trip since April 5-11. After taking two of three from the Angels and dropping two of three to the Twins, Seattle won the rubber match against the Athletics Sunday afternoon by a score of 6-3.

In taking two of three from the A's, the Mariners appeared to be an actual Major League baseball team, unlike the semi-pro squad they've emulated over the last couple of months. True, Saturday's contest was lopsided against them, and the defense in that game was brutal, but Friday and Sunday were another story. Marco Gonzales was his old self again on Friday, besting his improved start against the Angels that came on the heels of two terrible ones that probably doomed his All-Star chances. Mike Leake continued his string of decent starts with a win on Sunday. And J.P. Crawford returned from the injured list and finally got moved to the upper part of the lineup, batting second behind Mallex Smith the last two games.

Though Smith had his hitting streak snapped on Saturday, he continues to edge his numbers back up toward what had been expected of him going into the season. For the month of June, Smith is batting .290 with three homers and four steals; on the flip side, he is striking out way too much with 16 Ks in the month. Still, given where he was when he was recalled from Triple-A in mid-May (.168/.254/.277), it's a welcome change.

We also got our first look at 29-year-old rookie Austin Nola, who made his Major League debut on Sunday after eight years toiling in the minors. Called up to take the roster spot vacated by the Edwin Encarnación trade, the catcher/infielder started at first base and was 1-for-2 with a run scored.

On the down side, manager Scott Servais elected to use the "opener" strategy on Saturday and it bit the M's in the rear end again. Gersón Bautista was handed the ball in the first inning and got only two outs before giving way to rightful starter Wade LeBlanc, who had to come in with runners on and do damage control, already behind 3-0. LeBlanc wasn't as sharp as he'd been his previous couple of outings, either, so no telling if things would have been better if he'd just started the game normally, but going with the indefensible "opener" gambit didn't help.

Next up, a week-long homestand beginning with three against the Kansas City Royals, who were the last team the early-season "good Mariners" faced before their spectacular 13-2 start tripped and fell off a cliff.

Mariners vs. Athletics, by the numbers

  • Total runs scored: 33 (SEA 17, OAK 16)
  • Home runs hit: 6 (SEA 3, OAK 3)
  • Bases stolen/attempts: 2/3 (SEA 1 - Gordon, OAK 1)
  • Errors committed: 9 (SEA 7 - Gordon*, Smith, Seager 2, Crawford 3; OAK 2)
  • Quality starts: 3 (SEA 2 - Gonzales, Leake; OAK 1 - Montas)
  • Pitching changes: 18 (SEA 8, OAK 10)
  • Starters ERA: 3.67 (SEA 3.68, OAK 3.65)
  • Bullpen ERA: 4.85 (SEA 4.76, OAK 4.91)
  • Runners left on base: 41 (SEA 19, OAK 22)

* Questionable official scoring; could easily have been charged to Vogelbach or scored a hit.

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