Three games were played in the past week (not counting the All Star Game, obvs). While Felix did very well in his one inning of All Star Game work as the starter, while Rodney did okay in his 1/3 of an inning as an All Star Game set-up man, and while Kyle Seager and Robbie Cano did pretty much nothing in their All Star Game roles as backup DH and starting second baseman (respectively), I’m not here to rehash the fucking All Star Game, so let’s go ahead and move on.
We played the Angels this weekend. In Anaheim. (They’re the Anaheim Angels, I don’t care what anyone tells me). The Angels came into this series as the leading Wild Card team. The Mariners came into this series as the second Wild Card team. The Angels are MUCH closer to the A’s than they are the Mariners, and that hasn’t changed in the subsequent three days.
Three days, three 1-run games. ALMOST three extra innings games, but alas it wasn’t to be.
On Friday, Hisashi Iwakuma almost got the hard-luck loss, as Jered Weaver was rolling and Kuma gave up two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Somehow, the Mariners scratched across two runs in the seventh, and that’s the way it was for a while. Kuma was done after seven innings, and seven relievers followed him. Until the bottom of the 16th inning, with two runners on, some dude scored some other dude with a double and that was that.
On Saturday, Felix started and got a no decision. What else is new? He continued his historic streak of going 7 or more innings and giving up 2 runs or less (in this case, 7 innings, 1 unearned run, with 9 strikeouts and 6 combined walks & hits), but of course the offense couldn’t do much. This game went into the 12th before the Mariners manufactured two runs. They gave one right back in the bottom half, but Charlie Furbush of all people locked down the save (as Fernando Rodney was used earlier in the evening). On this day, the Mariners would use another six relievers. Keep that in mind.
Because on Sunday, the Mariners blew a save for the first time in a while. The bullpen has been lights out over the last couple months (and really, on the whole of the season), but they were just fucking gassed yesterday afternoon. Tom Wilhelmsen was out, because he pitched 4 innings in that Friday game (and probably because they’re saving him for the start on Tuesday). Danny Farquhar was out because he had arm stiffness or whatever after throwing for two straight days. Dom Leone had pitched two days in a row and sort of struggled (he gave up the game-losing hit on Friday). So, there weren’t really a lot of options you’d feel confident in. Chris Young cobbled together 6 innings and after he had left, the Mariners had a 5-3 lead. With his pitch count right at 99, and with the Angels’ lineup getting ready to see him for a fourth time, I have no problem whatsoever with LMC going to the bullpen.
Yoervis Medina gave up a run in the bottom of the seventh to pull it to a 1-run game, but he got all three outs, putting us six outs from victory. Joe Beimel was put into an impossible situation and sort of failed miserably. He got one out in the 8th, but put a man on. With the Angels soon to be turning the lineup over to the likes of Trout, Pujols, and other big scary bats, Lloyd pretty much had two options: see if Beimel could work his way out of a jam (and, for him, one runner on IS a jam), or see if Rodney could come in and get the 5-out save.
For the record, I don’t hate the move to bring in Rodney. He got us into the 9th inning without incident (unless you count him shooting one of his imaginary arrows towards the Angels dugout – but supposedly at the Angels fans who booed him, if you believe Rodney’s post-game comments – after he got the last out of the 8th inning), but from there he pretty much fell apart. Trout walked. Pujols doubled him home to tie the game and blow the save. Josh Hamilton singled. Howie Kendrick (who has turned into QUITE the Mariner Killer) was intentionally walked to load the bases. David Freese hit into a double play to give us some hope. Efren Navarro was also intentionally walked (he hit the game-winner on Friday, and has looked very good in his short stint in the Majors) to re-load the bases. And, finally, some guy named Grant Green hit the game-winner for the Angels.
We now have less than two weeks before the trade deadline. If this series illustrates one thing, it’s that the Mariners are NOT far away from the best teams in baseball. If you look at the two series that bookended the All Star Game, you’ll see that the Mariners beat the A’s 2 of 3 and lost to the Angels 2 of 3. All the games were close, and if there’s one thing you can point to as the difference, it would be the Mariners’ lack of hitting.
Let’s face it, the Mariners have made their season so far on timely hitting with runners in scoring position. There are a couple articles out there about how the Mariners are one of the more fortunate teams when it comes to clustering their hits. It’s one thing to have 9 hits in a game, but if they’re sprinkled out one per inning, odds are you’re not going to score much (if any) runs in that game. But, if all 9 hits come in the same inning, you’ve got yourself a good chance of winning.
That’s all well and good, and the Mariners are six games over .500 as a result, but what happens when that luck runs out?
Dustin Ackley had a pretty good series, but seriously, he’s the worst. Stefen Romero is back up with the team for some reason, and he looks just as lost as ever (both at the plate AND in the field). I would almost rather see Justin Smoak spend the rest of his Mariners career in Tacoma at this point. We’re lucky if we can get a bloop single out of Corey Hart anymore; he’s BEYOND done. Brad Miller is almost a lost cause. And, I know that LoMo has been hitting the ball hard since his playing time increased, but he’s falling back to Earth and earning his reputation as the Marlins’ version of Justin Smoak (that is, before he was traded here). Yeah, that’s all we need, TWO Justin Smoaks.
This team could use pretty much ANYONE at this point, including the highly disappointing Billy Butler from Kansas City. You know what a “disappointing” season out of Billy Butler is? .269/.320/.348. Yeah, I’ll bite, that’s not so hot, especially for a DH who brings nothing defensively to the table. You PROBABLY want more than 3 home runs at this point in the season. But, I mean, have you seen these numbers out of Hart, Smoak, and LoMo – the three guys currently rotating between first base and DH right now?
- Hart – .211/.287/.331
- Smoak – .210/.279/.356
- LoMo – .222/.280/.368
Right now, if you gave us Butler and nobody else, I guarantee this offense would be VASTLY improved. That’s just one example, but I think you see what I’m getting at.
We’re NOT that far away from being really, really good! Two hitters, that’s it! Two run of the mill, league-average hitters. Obviously, anything above league average would be a huge bonus, but right now I’m not asking for a whole lot. Not greedy; Dude just wants his rug back! The less we have to play Hart and Ackley and Smoak, the better. For all of us.
And, of course, if we want to be World Series contenders, we’d need David Price, but I’ve already belabored that point ad nauseam. Nevertheless, my plan is simple: David Price, Ben Zobrist, and another solid right-handed bat a la Billy Butler or someone slightly better. Get me those three guys and I’ll guarantee you a World Series appearance for the Seattle Mariners. SPARE NO EXPENSE!