Needing long outing, Bergman saves taxed 'pen

Righty combines with Pazos to blank A's on Wednesday

Needing long outing, Bergman saves taxed 'pen

SEATTLE -- They needed this one. The rotation, the bullpen and manager Scott Servais all breathed a sigh of relief with Christian Bergman's 7 1/3 scoreless innings in the Mariners' 4-0 win over the A's on Wednesday.

A group of injury fill-ins have done their best to keep the Mariners competitive in the American League West -- despite having five starters on the disabled list -- but not since James Paxton threw eight innings on April 15 had a Seattle starter gone as deep into a game as Bergman went in the series finale.

And for a team stretched to the breaking point by the series of rotation injuries, and subsequent pressure on the bullpen, this was exactly what the Mariners needed.

Rookie left-hander James Pazos finished the game by getting the last five outs, including three strikeouts, to give the rest of Seattle's relievers a night off.

"We talked before the game about what we needed to do to give our bullpen a breather," Servais said. "It's going to take a while to get those guys all kind of caught up, but it was a huge game tonight by Bergy, and Pazos coming in so we only had to use two pitchers. That was really important."

It's fair to say nobody saw this one coming, given Bergman, a 29-year-old right-hander, had never gone deeper than 6 1/3 innings in his Major League career, which previously consisted of 16 starts and 41 relief outings.

Bergman's dazzling performance

Making just his second Major League start in the past 13 months, Bergman recorded his first big league win since Sept. 21, 2014, when he was with Colorado, where he spent his previous four years.

Bergman has been strong this season, going 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts in Triple-A Tacoma, but he insists there's been no dramatic changes after posting a 5.79 ERA in 55 games with the Rockies over the past three seasons.

"I can't really give you a definitive answer," Bergman said. "I made some small mechanical adjustments, and I think I'm staying on top of the ball a little better, but nothing really drastic."

The Mariners' starter fill-ins have rarely pitched past five innings, causing Servais to lean harder on his bullpen than he'd like, and the pressure has started to show.

"That was just awesome to watch," Pazos said. "We needed it for sure, and he got it. It was great to watch. When we can sit back, and watch him deal like that, and then come out and pitch with the lead, it's a game-changer."

Bergman's slick defensive play

Servais moved Edwin Diaz out of the closing role for now to let him work on mechanical changes, and the manager knows he has to lighten the load on veterans Nick Vincent and Marc Rzepczynski while not overtaxing Tony Zych and Steve Cishek as they come back from offseason surgeries.

"We're starting to get there," Servais said. "We just have to manage it day to day. We got the length guys available to kind of run through the games, but we want to keep those guys sharp. You saw the value of Pazos having two days off tonight. He was really good vs. trying to run him every night or every other night.

"We want to keep those guys sharp. Eventually, we are going to get healthy here, and when we do, we want to make sure we can put a really good streak together. And you've got to have those guys in the bullpen on top of their game."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.