SEATTLE (AP) — J.P. Crawford hit his third career grand slam, Ty France and Josh Rojas hit solo homers and the Seattle Mariners stayed in the thick of the American League playoff race with an 8-0 win over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
A night after possibly saving Seattle’s playoff hopes with a two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning to pull out a 3-2 victory against the Rangers, Crawford again came through with a big swing to keep Seattle right on the heels of Houston in the chase for the final wild card spot in the American League.
Seattle (87-73) remained one game behind Houston (88-72) the wild-card standings with two games left, while Texas (89-71) still needs a victory or an Astros loss to wrap up a playoff berth. There also still remains the possibility of a three-way tie for the division title.
Crawford’s slam – his 19th homer of the season — was off reliever Brock Burke who came in specifically to face Crawford after Nathan Eovaldi faltered. Burke fell behind 3-1 in the count and missed with a fastball in the middle of the plate. Crawford didn’t miss lining the pitch into the right field seats to give the Mariners an 8-0 lead.
Crawford’s slam was the blow that broke the game open. But it was the conclusion to a two-inning stretch of big at-bats by the Mariners that knocked out Eovaldi (12-5) and provided Seattle’s pitching staff some stress-free innings.
France’s homer leading off the third inning was the first hit off Eovaldi. Two batters later, Rojas hit his fourth homer since being acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline. With two outs in the inning, Eugenio Suárez hit a liner to center field that Leody Tavares overran and fell for a double that scored Crawford from first.
An inning later, Eovaldi allowed a single to Teoscar Hernández, walked Mike Ford and hit France with a 3-2 pitch before Rojas’ RBI single ended his night. Burke took over and Crawford went deep.
Seattle starter Bryan Woo labored into the fourth inning, but pitched out of trouble and kept the Rangers scoreless less than a week after giving up six runs to Texas. Woo needed 82 pitches to record 11 outs, but struck out five and worked around three walks nibbling around the plate facing the Rangers’ top hitters.
Texas had runners at the corners with one out in the third but Woo struck out Adolis García and after hitting Nathaniel Lowe on the foot to load the bases got a fly out from Josh Jung to end the threat.
From there is was an assembly line of relievers that closed out Seattle's big league-high 17th shutout. Taylor Saucedo, Trent Thornton (1-2), Isaiah Campbell, Eduard Bazardo and Dominic Leone combined for 5 1/3 innings.
Texas right-hander Jon Gray was placed on the 15-day injured list with a forearm strain, a blow to the staff heading into the playoffs. The Rangers were planning to start Gray on Saturday. Gray is 9-8 with a 4.12 ERA in 29 starts this season.
Rangers: Texas has not announced a starter for Saturday’s game.
Mariners: RHP Luis Castillo (14-8, 3.20) will make his final start of the regular season, looking to rebound after giving up five runs in six innings to Houston in his last start. Castillo is winless in two starts against Texas this season but the last came in early June when he allowed one run in seven innings.