Felix Hernandez came through with a vintage performance, and the Seattle Mariners rallied to overcome a record-equaling start from Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell for a 2-1 victory over the visiting Rays on Sunday afternoon.
The Mariners scored both of their runs in the eighth inning off left-hander Jose Alvarado (0-2) to complete a sweep of the three-game series.
Thanks to the win, Seattle moved into first place in the American League West after June 1 for the first time since August 2013, according to the Mariners radio broadcast. The Houston Astros fell a half-game back pending the result of their Sunday night game against the Boston Red Sox.
Ryon Healy led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Andrew Romine. Guillermo Heredia put down a sacrifice bunt, but Alvarado’s throw was dropped by first baseman Brad Miller for an error. Denard Span, acquired from Tampa Bay in a four-player trade a week and a half earlier, grounded a single into right field to score Romine and send Heredia to third.
After Alvarado caught Mike Zunino looking at a called third strike, Dee Gordon blooped a hit over shortstop Daniel Robertson and a drawn-in infield to make it 2-1.
Hernandez (6-4) went a season-high eight innings, allowing one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out seven.
Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth for his major-league-leading 21st save of the season.
Snell’s first major league start in his hometown of Seattle was one to remember.
The left-hander pitched six scoreless innings of two-hit ball, striking out a season-high 12 against his boyhood idol, King Felix.
Snell struck out the first seven batters he faced, tying the American League mark to open a game set by the Chicago White Sox’s Joe Cowley on May 28, 1986, and matched by the White Sox’s Carlos Rodon on Sept. 30, 2016. The major league record is eight.
Span snapped Snell’s strikeout streak with one out in the third inning. Span grounded out to second on a 3-2 pitch after fouling off four two-strike pitches. Snell fanned Mike Zunino to end the third.
Tampa Bay’s only run came in the fourth inning. With two outs, Robertson singled to left field, and Miller, a former Mariner, hit the next pitch for an RBI double to right-center.
—Field Level Media