J.P. Crawford won his first Gold Glove during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
If you ask anyone in the Seattle Mariners’ clubhouse, the shortstop deserves another.
Crawford made a couple of sterling defensive plays and went 3-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBIs Tuesday night as the Mariners defeated the host Oakland Athletics 5-2.
Seattle (82-69) has won the first two games of this four-game, high-stakes series to pull even with Oakland (82-69) for second place in the American League West, eight games behind the Houston Astros.
More importantly, the Mariners — who clinched their first winning season since 2018 — are only three games back in the chase for the AL’s second and final wild-card berth with 11 games left.
Their series with the A’s will continue Wednesday night in Oakland.
“We saw Crawford do everything on the field tonight — a couple of big defensive plays and a home run,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “In my mind there are a lot of good shortstops in the American League, but nobody flashes the leather like him”
After the Mariners scored three runs in the top of the fourth Tuesday to break a 1-1 tie, the A’s got one run back on a solo homer by Starling Marte and threatened for more in the bottom of the inning. With two on and two out, Crawford went up the middle to make a diving stop and scrambled to his feet to throw out Mark Canha by a full stride.
“He should have his name etched on it right now,” Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales said, referring to Crawford and the AL’s Gold Glove Award. “That’s why we call him ‘the Unicorn’ out there.”
Crawford added an insurance run with a solo homer with one out in the ninth inning, his ninth homer of the season.
The Mariners’ leadoff hitter has career highs in all three main offensive categories this season, batting .269 with nine homers and 50 RBIs.
But it was the Mariners’ victory that was on his mind Tuesday.
“We all knew we could win. We all knew we could compete. It’s not surprising to us. We all knew we could do this,” Crawford said. “Everyone keeps doubting us, and we keep proving people wrong. And we’re just gonna continue to get better.”
Added Servais: “Obviously coming out of spring training, expectations were very, very low for this club. We had a lot to prove. And I talked about it continuously throughout the season, our whole focus was continue to get better – doesn’t matter, just get better. And we’ve done that. Our guys compete their (rears) off every night. I take lot of pride in being a part of that.”
The A’s, who had won five in a row entering this series, have scored just two runs in each of the past two games. Their only other run Tuesday came in the first inning on a solo shot by Matt Olson, his career-high 37th homer of the season, one more than he hit in 2019.
“It’s kind of flipped back where we’re getting at least really good bullpen efforts and not getting the offense,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We just have to time it up right. There’s not a lot of time left, but there’s still time to do it.”
Mariners right-hander Chris Flexen (12-6, 3.66 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday against A’s lefty Cole Irvin (10-13, 3.94).
Flexen is 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts against Oakland this season and lifetime, while Irvin is 0-3 with an 8.49 ERA in three starts against Seattle this year and career-wise, failing to make it through the fifth inning even once.
–Field Level Media