SEATTLE — It’s something that will frighten your dog and give your children nightmares.
With eyes bugged out as wide as possible, teeth bared in a lunatic smile that’s straight out of a comic book – perhaps part Venom and part Joker – and a generally crazed expression on his face while making a guttural scream reserved for the bears he likes to hunt in the offseason, Tom Murphy has found his happy place and his happy face.
And it was on full display Monday afternoon in the Mariners’ 6-5 come-from-behind, extra-innings victory over the A’s. It came when Murphy’s line-drive fly out to right field was just deep enough for Ty France to tag up from third base and score the winning run in bottom of the 10th inning.
The Mariners’ fifth victory in a row pushed their record to over .500 at 28-27.
As France slid across home plate, Murphy, who was standing near first base, turned and delivered a flex and that face to his teammates as they poured out of the dugout to celebrate.
Normally, a person gets mobbed in that situation, grabbed and has his jersey ripped off. Murphy was having none of that. He got into a wrestler’s stance, flashing that face and shuffled around not letting them get close to tackling him. As one of the strongest players on the team and in all of baseball, his teammates weren’t too ready to mix it up.
Logan Gilbert delivered the best outing of his brief big-league career, pitching six innings and allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
While he relied heavily on his fastball, throwing it 54 times in his 80 pitches, he did use his slider (15) and curveball (10) for good results, particularly when he was ahead in the count.
He exited the game with a 4-2 lead and was in line for his first MLB victory.
But the Mariners bullpen couldn’t secure it for him.
Left-hander Anthony Misiewicz created a small mess in the eighth, walking Mark Canha to start the inning and then allowing a shift-beating single to left field to score Matt Olson. Jarred Kelenic bobbled the ball slightly for a one-base error as Canha hustled to third.
Misiewicz came back to strike out Jed Lowrie and Seth Brown.
Manager Scott Servais went to his bullpen to bring in J.T. Chargois to face Sean Murphy. The move didn’t work as expected. Chargois flinched while taking the signs from catcher Jose Godoy and was immediately called for a balk by home plate umpire Pat Hoberg. Canha jogged home to cut the lead to 4-3 while Olson advanced to second base. That extra 90 feet loomed large when Sean Murphy ripped a deep fly ball to center that was just out of the reach of Kyle Lewis, who made a sprinting/leaping attempt on the play. The RBI double tied the game at 4-4 and left Gilbert with a no decision.