SEATTLE (AP) — On the day they said goodbye to their closer and one of the anchors to their clubhouse, the Seattle Mariners reached their highwater mark for the season.
Strange times for a team that’s lingered around .500 for most of the season right up to the trade deadline.
“It’s hard this time of year. It really is. Players and their families and everything else with the trade deadline and trying to see how it all plays out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
Cal Raleigh hit a pair of solo home runs off Nick Pivetta, Julio Rodríguez added a two-run single as part of a four-run eighth inning, and the Mariners moved a season-best four games over .500 with a 6-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Monday night.
Seattle (55-51) concluded its most successful month of the season, going 17-9 in July and inched closer in the AL West and wild card races.
But the successful month wasn’t enough for the Mariners front office to keep from selling off a few pieces. Seattle’s afternoon started with closer Paul Sewald being traded to Arizona and outfielder AJ Pollock getting dealt to San Francisco.
The day ended with the Mariners enjoying their eighth win in 11 games.
“It’s unfortunate to see (Sewald) go. We wish him the best of luck. But it’s out of our control,” Raleigh said. “We can look at it two ways — we can kind of pack it in, or we can keep going and trying to make this thing real and kind of prove them wrong.”
Raleigh hit a towering fly ball leading off the second inning that had enough carry to sneak into the right field seats for his 15th homer of the season. His 16th with one out in the seventh inning was a no-doubter off the bat and stayed inside the foul pole to give Seattle the lead.
It was Raleigh’s fourth multi-homer game this season and second in the past two weeks after hitting a pair on July 22 against Toronto.
The two homers were the only mistakes by Pivetta, who was otherwise outstanding in his return to starting a game. Starting for the first time since May 16, Pivetta (7-6) pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowed five hits and struck out 10.
“Him going deep in the game, that was huge for us to reset and actually give us a chance to win the series the next two days,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.
Seattle was able to score four times in the eighth with Rodríguez lining a single off reliever Joe Jacques down the right-field line to score a pair, and Eugenio Suárez and Teoscar Hernández following with RBI singles.
Boston lost its third straight and has scored three runs or less in four straight games.
Boston’s first run came courtesy of a play straight off the youth baseball field. Jarren Duran walked to open the game, stole second, immediately advanced to third as catcher Tom Murphy’s throw airmailed into center field and scampered home as Rodríguez’s throw from the outfield got past Suárez at third base.
While Seattle’s defense was shaky in that moment, it came through later with key plays by Suárez and second baseman Jose Caballero, and Rodríguez running down Pablo Reyes’ liner in right-center field.
J.P. Crawford ended the game with a spectacular catch of Masataka Yoshida’s line drive.
“We all take pride into all we do defensively too because we know that’s a way that we can win ballgames,” Rodríguez said.
Matt Brash (6-3) was one of five relievers used by the Mariners after starter George Kirby labored through five innings. Justin Turner’s infield single with two outs in the ninth scored Wong, but Turner walked off the field with a slight limp after beating out the slow grounder.
Turner is day-to-day with a left heel contusion.
Boston placed LHP Joely Rodriguez on the 15-day injured list with right hip inflammation and recalled Jacques from Triple-A Worcester. Rodriguez has pitched only 11 innings all season due to a combination of an oblique injury and shoulder inflammation.
Red Sox: RHP Brayan Bello (7-6, 3.66) has pitched at least six innings in four of his past five starts. Bello allowed three runs over six innings in his last outing against Atlanta.
Mariners: RHP Bryce Miller (7-3, 3.96) picked up the win in his last start despite giving up six runs and four homers to Minnesota. In his past two starts at home, Miller has allowed one earned run in 10 1/3 innings pitched.