When the Braves traded Andrew Albers to the Mariners for cash considerations on Aug. 11, he was viewed as a Minor League journeyman who didn’t fit within an Atlanta rotation, which at the time was being anchored by an impressive form of Mike Foltynewicz.
Given a chance to face his former organization at SunTrust Park on Monday night, Albers was not overly dominant, but he proved to be much more efficient than Foltynewicz as he helped the Mariners stay in the thick of the American League Wild Card race with Monday night’s 6-5 win over the Braves.
“I was thankful for the opportunity I got [with Atlanta] and them making the trade to get me here with this opportunity,” Albers said. “It was nice to go out there and give the team a chance to win. Whether it is against them or anyone else, right now with the [Wild Card] race, wins are big.”
Despite committing four errors, the Mariners won for the fifth time in their past six games, and pulled to within a game of the second AL Wild Card spot. The victory was aided by Yonder Alonso’s three hits, two of which were run-producing doubles.
“I thought he threw the ball well and got it going back and forth with the changeup,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We didn’t do a lot defensively to help him out. It created some longer innings and pitch counts, but we tightened up the defense.”
Foltynewicz seemed to be establishing himself as a legitimate frontline starter, but he has allowed at least five earned runs in four of his past five starts. The Braves’ right-hander struggled to control his breaking pitches as he allowed five of his six runs through the first four innings. Ozzie Albies highlighted his two-hit night with a two-run triple during a three-run sixth that brought the Braves to within one run.
“It’s probably more mental than mechanical [for Foltynewicz],” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s free and easy throwing. He’s aware of it and he’s working hard at it. But it’s easier said than done. When you’re standing on that hill and all of the attention is on you, it’s a different place. But it’s not something he can’t work through. It’s a tough stretch right now, but I believe in him.”
Foltynewicz began to unravel in the fourth as he hit Leonys Martin with a pitch and issued a two-out, four-pitch walk to Jean Segura. After an errant pickoff attempt at second base moved both runners up, Alonso followed with a two-run double. The veteran first baseman added another double in the sixth inning that ended the night for Foltynewicz, who has allowed 26 earned runs over his past 22 innings (five starts).
“When you get hit around out there like that multiple times in a row, it definitely does something to your confidence,” Foltynewicz said. “But it’s a game where you have to forget about things. I have in the past, but it’s tough when things like this keep happening.”
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino thwarted a couple of late rallies with his strong arm. Zunino’s strong throw to second base in the seventh inning left Brandon Phillips unsuccessful in each of his past three stolen-base attempts. Ender Inciarte singled to begin the ninth, but with one out and Freddie Freeman at the plate, he too, was thrown out attempting to steal second base.
“We know [Inciarte] is one of their better runners and Edwin Diaz did a good job throwing a couple picks over there to keep him close,” Zunino said. “We just had to be on our toes and ready to make a throw.”
Lucas Sims will take the mound when the three-game series resumes Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. CT. Sims earned his first career win on Thursday as he allowed two runs over five innings at Coors Field.