ARLINGTON -- The Mariners might not have acquired a big-name starter at Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but they discovered a little more of how important new reliever David Phelps can be, as the right-hander unleashed a dominant outing and got the win in Seattle's 6-4 victory over the Rangers.
Phelps struck out five of the six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings (walking the other), and he just missed an "immaculate" frame in the eighth when he needed just 10 pitches to strike out the side.
Acquired from Miami on July 20, Phelps noted that it would have been former Marlins teammate Jose Fernandez's birthday on Monday had he not died in a boating accident last September.
"I've been thinking a lot about Jose would have been 25 today," Phelps said. "I was thinking in my hotel room earlier, 'Just be out there with me today.' And I guess I just tried to channel my inner Jose. It was a special day, for me and a lot of the guys that were down there with him. I really just tried to go out there and pitch like he would, and it showed."
Phelps has been outstanding in four of his five games with the Mariners. He allowed four hits and two runs in an inning on Friday against the Mets in his previous outing. So wiping that away was important as well for the newcomer.
"Baseball is an interesting game," he said. "My stuff felt as good as it did the other day, but these guys haven't seen me as much as the Mets probably, so they were probably trying to see a few pitches."
Manager Scott Servais brought the hard-throwing right-hander in with one out in the seventh and he struck out Adrian Beltre, walked Mike Napoli and then whiffed the next four Rangers to set up the save for Edwin Diaz after Robinson Cano's go-ahead two-run single in the top of the ninth.
"David was on it tonight," Servais said. "His curveball was really good, too. He used that early in counts and then the fastball had life up in the zone. A good cutter. It was great to see. Having the ability to kind of extend him, he comes in and gets a couple outs and then put him back out there in a tie game, that's valuable. He's starting to fit in nicely and get comfortable."
Indeed, Phelps said he's starting to fit in -- both on and off the field.
"Getting traded, there is a transition that occurs," he said. "Getting my family situated, you have a lot on your plate. The organization has done a nice job and my wife has been a saint, just helping me get as comfortable as possible. The comfort level with the guys on this team has been huge."
It doesn't hurt when the new guy helps his team get over .500 for the first time since June 24 with a big comeback win.
"That's huge," he said. "From what I understand, it's been kind of a barrier here all year. But we're playing good baseball right now against some good teams. We're hitting our stride. This is the point of the season you put an emphasis on staying together, and we're starting to get strong. We want to finish stronger than we started, and this is the month to do it."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.