It seems a team meeting and a healthy Ty France were exactly what the Seattle Mariners needed to get back on track.
After the Mariners lost six games in a row with France on the injured list, manager Scott Servais called a meeting.
“There are three or four times over the course of a season where you have to circle the wagons,” Servais said.
Whatever was said, it worked. The Mariners have won six of seven games since to get back to .500.
Next, the Mariners host the American League West-leading Oakland Athletics, with a three-game series starting Monday afternoon at T-Mobile Park.
France has been a big part of their improved play. He went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs Sunday as the Mariners completed a four-game sweep of the visiting Texas Rangers with a 4-2 victory.
France originally was hit in the right forearm by a 98-mph fastball from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dustin May on April 20. Five days later, he suffered a bone bruise in his left wrist while attempting to dive for a grounder while playing second base.
France tried to stick it out, but batted just .159 over the next 19 games before going on the injured list.
Now he’s healthy and hitting.
“Not having that in the back of my mind on every swing, it definitely makes a difference,” France said. “There’s still a couple swings where I can feel it a little bit but the training staff has done a good job to get me healthy or as healthy I can be. It definitely feels a lot better.”
With reigning American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis back after missing the first three weeks with a knee injury and top prospect Jarred Kelenic up from the minors, France has been hitting in the fifth spot in the lineup.
“Getting Ty France back … it’s lengthened our lineup,” Servais said. “I love having him in the five hole. There’s going to be RBI opportunities in that spot. … This guy can hit all the pitches. He uses the whole field to hit. So it really has made a difference for us offensively.”
The Mariners will have a tough task Monday against Oakland right-hander James Kaprielian (2-0, 1.53 ERA). Kaprielian pitched seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball last Wednesday in a 6-3 victory against Seattle, preventing the visiting Mariners from completing a three-game sweep.
“We lost three in a row, so we needed a big start,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Kaprielian’s last outing. “Getting deep into that game and pitching that well, that’s just going to bode well for him going forward.”
The A’s, who lost 4-2 Sunday to the Los Angeles Angels, mustered just 21 runs on their seven-game homestand, which started with the three games against Seattle.
“Just quiet offensively,” Melvin said. “It’s going to happen sometimes.”
Rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert (0-2, 7.59) is scheduled to start for the Mariners. He had his best outing last week against Oakland, giving up two runs on four hits over four innings.
–Field Level Media