When Seattle traded reliever Kendall Graveman to the Houston Astros in late July, it was an unpopular move in the Mariners clubhouse.
The team was coming off a thrilling, 11-8 victory over the Astros the previous night after trailing by seven runs, with Graveman getting the victory.
Mariners players told reporters they felt betrayed that the club sent the closer to an American League West rival, and there were reports of equipment being smashed in the clubhouse.
A little more than a month later, those feelings are not nearly so raw, in part because of the play of Abraham Toro.
Toro, acquired by Seattle along with veteran reliever Joe Smith in the deal for Graveman and fellow right-hander Rafael Montero, hit a grand slam in the eighth inning Tuesday night to snap a scoreless tie, giving the Mariners a 4-0 victory against the Astros.
“That was Major League Baseball in 2021 at its finest,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
The teams will wrap up their three-game series with the rubber match Wednesday afternoon.
Toro, a third baseman by trade who has been learning to play second on the fly with the Mariners, is batting .311 with four homers and 16 RBIs since the deal and has reached base safely in 29 of 32 games.
Toro’s slam came off, you guessed it, Graveman.
“It’s crazy how this game things work out and things line up,” Servais said. “When the inning started, I looked at my lineup card and said, ‘These guys are gonna hook up.’ I thought it would be two out with two on, but it was one out with the bases loaded.”
The win pulled the Mariners within 3 1/2 games of the AL’s second and final wild-card playoff berth with 29 games remaining.
J.P. Crawford led off the eighth with a walk and, an out later, Kyle Seager singled. Ty France was hit by a pitch for the 20th time this season, a franchise record, to load the bases for Toro.
Toro, who has hit three homers against the Astros since the trade, said he had a premonition.
“When the eighth inning started,” he said, “I said, ‘Hey, guys, I’m going to have a really big at-bat.'”
That he did, to the chagrin of Graveman.
“The walk and the HBP is really what led to the inning,” Graveman said. “I think the hit by pitch was the bigger one. That was a mistake against Ty France.”
Added Astros manager Dusty Baker of Graveman: “Even the best of them get hit sometimes, and that was evident (Tuesday). He’s one of the best of the best, but he got beat.”
The Astros are scheduled to send right-hander Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 4.46 ERA) to the mound in the series finale. Odorizzi is 2-1 with a 4.70 ERA against Seattle this season, including a 15-1 victory on Aug. 21 when he allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings. He is 3-4 with a 4.37 ERA in 11 career starts against the Mariners.
Rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert (5-5, 5.44 ERA) is set to start for Seattle. He has lost his past three decisions, including that blowout at Houston in which he gave up nine runs in 4 2/3 innings. That was his only career outing against the Astros.
–Field Level Media