Mariners rally late to stun Giants 8-7 in 10 innings

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SEATTLE — After 550 days without fans in attendance, the Seattle Mariners treated those who stuck around late into the night to one of the more unlikely comebacks seen on opening day.

Jake Fraley walked with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to score Evan White with the winning run, and Seattle rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the San Francisco Giants 8-7 on Thursday.

A wild opening night concluded with a massive comeback by the Mariners, who scored six runs in the eighth to take a 7-6 lead, only to lose it on pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson‘s solo homer in the ninth.

According to Sportradar, the Mariners were the 16th team to rally from a deficit of five or more runs on opening day and win, dating to 1906. The Royals became the 15th earlier in the day when they came back against Texas.

Seattle was the first team to trail by five-plus runs in the eighth inning or later and win on opening day since the Montreal Expos in 2002.

“I’m a strong believer in this game is a game of momentum, a game of vibes as well,” said Mariners center fielder Taylor Trammell, who had a key nine-pitch walk as part of Seattle’s big eighth inning. “So the momentum and the vibes were in our favor and there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win this game.”

Evan Longoria, Buster Posey and Austin Slater also went deep for the Giants, but their bullpen struggled all night, capped by Jose Alvarez‘s inability to throw strikes in the 10th. Alvarez walked Trammell and Dylan Moore to begin the inning, loading the bases after White started on second base.

Alvarez (0-1) wasn’t close against Fraley, and Seattle celebrated an unlikely victory when the reliever’s 3-1 pitch was wide.

Seattle had just five hits, but walked nine times.

“Not being able to throw strikes, that’s going to hurt you at the major league level,” San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said. “So we’ve got to do a better job, and that was definitely the story of tonight’s baseball game.”

Anthony Misiewicz (1-0) escaped the 10th unscathed after Mitch Haniger made a terrific sliding catch on Posey’s fly ball down the right-field line to end the inning with Longoria at third base.

It was Haniger’s first game since June 6, 2019, after missing the rest of that season and all of last year due to injuries.

“He hasn’t played a game like that in quite some time, so he’ll probably be a little sore tomorrow,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “But everybody feels really good in here right now.”

Seattle scored six times in the eighth against San Francisco’s shaky bullpen to take a 7-6 lead. Moore had a key two-run double on the first pitch from Tyler Rogers, and Seattle took the lead on first baseman Brandon Belt‘s throwing error that allowed two runs to score.

The lead was short-lived. Dickerson led off the ninth pinch-hitting for Slater, who homered earlier in the game. Dickerson fell behind 0-2, but Seattle closer Rafael Montero left a changeup in the middle of the plate and Dickerson lined it out to right-center for San Francisco’s fourth solo home run.

Longoria and Posey both homered in the second off Seattle starter Marco Gonzales, who tied a career high with three home runs allowed.

The late chaos ruined a terrific outing from San Francisco starter Kevin Gausman. Starting on opening day for the second time in his career, Gausman allowed only one run while pitching into the seventh. He retired the first 11 batters before Kyle Seager‘s two-out double in the fourth. Gausman issued a pair of walks, but the only other hit allowed was White’s leadoff double in the seventh.

WELCOME BACK

Seattle’s last home game with fans prior to Thursday was Sept. 29, 2019, but 8,174 showed up for the opener. The sellout crowd arrived with energy and excitement there proved to be little to cheer from the home side until the huge eighth-inning rally.

“It felt like a lot more. You could feel the intensity, you could feel the anticipation that people have getting out here,” Gonzales said.

BACK AT THE PARK

The Mariners’ opener was the first professional sporting event in Washington state to allow fans since March 7, 2000, when the Seattle Sounders hosted the Columbus Crew in an MLS match. A small number of family and friends had been allowed to attend college basketball games in the state in late winter.

Seattle has sold out the entire opening series against San Francisco.

TENTH TIME AROUND

Posey, Belt and San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford all made their 10th career opening day starts. For Crawford it was his 10th consecutive start at shortstop to begin the season, while Posey returned after opting out last year.

The 10 opening day starts tied Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal for fifth-most in franchise history.

WHO’S IN LEFT

When Slater trotted out to start in left field for the Giants he continued a strange, ongoing streak for San Francisco. The Giants have used a different starting left fielder for every season opener since Barry Bonds last played for San Francisco in 2007.

UP NEXT

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto (2-3, 5.40 ERA in 2020) begins his sixth season with the Giants. Cueto had a 9.82 ERA in three spring training appearances.

Mariners: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (2-4, 5.17) makes his season debut. Kikuchi appeared in three spring training games and gave up three runs in 8 1/3 innings.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.