Yeah, I don’t know. After struggling all year at home, we take two from the hapless Padres, only to turn right around and lose two down in San Diego against the very same hapless Padres! Then, we go to Kansas City, who had been on an incredible hot streak, and we sweep them in three games, taking the final two games of the weekend by the score of 2-1.
In case you weren’t aware, this is how it’s gonna be. This week, we went 5-2. Last week, we went 2-5. The week before, 5-1. The week before that, 4-3. The week before that, 3-3, and the week before that, 2-4.
No rhyme, no reason, just Mariners baseball in 2014.
If you ask me, Fernando Rodney is the MVP of the weekend sweep of the Royals. Lloyd pitched him last Thursday in a loss to the Padres, because he hadn’t worked in five days. I tend to be of the opinion that you should use your best pitcher in the most high-leverage situation, regardless of inning. But, if you’re going to have a designated closer who primarily works the 9th inning of ballgames where your team has a lead by 3 runs or less, then shouldn’t you use him exclusively in those situations, and not in situations where you just need to run out the clock on a losing contest? Baseball managers – and head coaches in general – are always so risk-averse in their decision-making, because they’re so afraid of the What Ifs. Well … what if three consecutive save opportunities come about right AFTER you blow an inning’s worth of pitches on Rodney’s arm?
As it just so happens, that’s what happened. And, Rodney escaped with flying colors. I’d been pretty hard on him in the past for his wild ways (and probably at least one of his blown saves was a Felix start), but Fernando Rodney has really been one of the best closers – and best all-around relievers – in the American League. This weekend, he was absolutely amazing: 3 innings, 3 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, and most importantly, no runs allowed. I would be shocked (and more than a little wary) if he pitched in tonight’s game against the Red Sox, so let’s hope he’s earned a night of rest.
Also, not for nothing, but we have to seriously consider his chances for the All Star Game. Cano, Felix, and Rodney … the Mariners should be well represented in this game.
James Jones keeps plugging away. Kinda leads me to wonder why – when Endy Chavez starts – Lloyd is always putting HIM in the leadoff spot, when Jones has more than done enough to earn that role. I would rank Chavez as only a slightly better hitter than Bloomquist, and I don’t even think that’s an accurate statement! What does THAT say about the guy who keeps getting the #1 spot in the lineup whenever he starts? Is anyone else kind of over the whole Endy Chavez thing? It was fine when he was in Tacoma, and was left down there to rot until an injury opened up a spot, but now he’s getting semi-regular playing time! I’d say Michael Saunders couldn’t return soon enough, but I highly doubt his return would mean the demotion of Chavez anyway.
Dustin Ackley still stinks, so that’s fun. He’s OCCASIONALLY productive, in that he gets a hit just about every fourth at-bat – and every so often, that hit comes with a runner in scoring position (hence the 26 RBI, which puts him fourth on the team) – so it’s not like he’s a TOTAL waste. But, he’s just about as close to being a total waste as you can be without actually BEING a total waste. Michael Saunders can’t return soon enough.
Finally, Brad Miller. In the month of June, he has raised his batting average almost exactly 50 points. 1 double, 1 triple, and 3 homers, with 8 RBI. His crazy June has put him JUST over the Mendoza line, at .207, so that’s cool. He’ll need a crazy July to get back to respectable, but at least he hasn’t just gone completely in the toilet. I have to admit, I had my doubts about his abilities to hack it up here with his lame April & May. I thought, at the very least, a trip to Tacoma would clear his head and get him somewhere near his old self. But, the team stuck with him (mostly because all of our other options were somehow even worse – you can thank Chris Taylor’s timely/untimely injury for that, as it happened right around the time the Mariners brought up & sent down Nick Franklin) and it appears to be paying off. Of course, the lion’s share of the credit goes to Miller himself for battling, putting in the work, and not totally falling apart emotionally. I hope this is the start of a beautiful, All Star career, but right now I’d settle for a beautiful, league-average career.