If you asked me when I woke up on Friday morning last week, what would be more likely: the Athletics winning just enough games against the Rangers, or the Mariners losing just enough games against the Angels, I would’ve bet the farm that the Mariners would’ve lost at least ONCE. But, to their credit, when the chips were the most down they could’ve possibly been, the Mariners fought their way through to a 3-game sweep of the best team in baseball.
Granted, the Angels weren’t exactly trying their hardest once they got home field advantage, but that’s neither here nor there. The Mariners needed to win out and they needed some help. And, somehow, the Mariners managed to accomplish the first part of that equation. It’s just too bad the Rangers were a little too bad. Still, it WAS interesting. With Oakland losing on Saturday night, while the Mariners would go on to win in extras, the season was pushed to the brink: Game 162. The Mariners needed to win that game – with Felix on the mound – and they needed the A’s to lose.
We learned just before the 6th inning that the game was essentially meaningless. The A’s shut out the Rangers and our season was over. But, for 161 games & 5 innings, the Mariners’ season had meaning! This was truly the best year of baseball we’ve had around here since 2001 (I know the Mariners had winning records in 2002 and 2003, but those teams had their dreams crushed thanks to the A’s being insanely good and there not being a second Wild Card team).
In other news, Felix pitched 5.1 innings of shutout ball to claim the E.R.A. title at 2.14. He ended his season 15-6 with a lot of really impressive counting and average stats. Thanks to a scoring change in his last start against Toronto – where he got shelled – a hit was changed to an error (on Felix, I might add) that reduced his E.R.A. by something like 16 points. Either way, it should give him enough to work with to get the Cy Young award. So, that’s neat.
In Steven’s Gambling news, before the season started I put $550 on a futures bet. The odds were -110, so it’s essentially $550 to win $500. Anyway, the bet was Robinson Cano vs. Adrian Beltre: who will get more combined hits, home runs, and RBI. I put my money on Cano, and SAINTS BE PRAISED, it looks like my ship has come in!
- Cano: 187 hits, 14 HR, 82 RBI; Total = 283
- Beltre: 178 hits, 19 HR, 77 RBI; Total = 274
So, you know what that means: I’m going back to Tahoe for the third straight year during the first weekend of March Madness! BAM! Thank you Robinson Cano; part of my proceeds will most likely go to getting some sort of Cano jersey.
By the by, did anyone catch that game on Saturday? It was at the same time the perfect representation of a Seattle Mariners game, and also a crazy departure. 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position? Check. Multiple instances with the runner stranded on third base with less than two outs? Check. Lineup struggling against a left-handed starter, with the only damage being done by left-handed bats (because platooning is for suckers and our right-handed bats suck dick)? Check.
And yet, there it was, only the second time the Mariners have had a walk-off win this entire season. The first one, if memory serves, was that day game against Houston back in April where both the Mariners and Kyle Seager broke out of their funks to salvage an ultimately successful season.
There will be a lot to discuss about the 2014 Mariners in the coming weeks, as there will be about the 2015 Mariners and beyond. We’re wearing our rose-colored glasses now because the season is just over and we came SO close. And Felix was able to redeem himself yesterday and probably won himself the Cy Young (while getting an emotional standing ovation as he was pulled from the game one out into the sixth inning). I’ll save the snark and the attitude for another day.
On this day (and probably on a few other days), I’ll celebrate the 2014 Mariners for what they were: 87-75, sixteen games better than they were in 2013. They were interesting until the bitter end; though “interesting” can be both good and bad. Still, they were better than I could have possibly hoped for.
I’ll just close with this. A lot of media types on Twitter like to make fun of the crazed baseball fan who lives and dies with every pitch. Granted, there are a good number of wackos out there. But, NOW do you see why the Mariners drive us all crazy on a regular basis? NOW do you see why everyone flips out on Twitter when the Mariners blow yet another amazing gem of a Felix start? That shit adds up! You say we’re nuts for melting down on Twitter when the Mariners blow a game in April; well, ARE WE? If we’re so nuts, then riddle me this: how many games behind the A’s for the second Wild Card are we? That would be one game. 1.
That’s a 2-0 loss to the Angels at home in April. That’s another 2-0 loss to the A’s in the second game of a doubleheader in May. That’s a 1-0 loss to the Rangers in June where Felix went 8.1 innings of 4-hit ball and didn’t give up the run until the ninth inning. Or how about a 1-0 loss to Hector Noesi and the White Sox in July? I could go on and on. These are the games that drive us the craziest, and if any one of these games had gone a little differently, the Mariners would still be playing baseball right now.
So, maybe cut us fans a little slack, huh? Let us vent our feelings the only way we know how: through crazed diatribes on Twitter to anyone who will listen.
Before the season started, I thought everything would have to break right for the Mariners to make the playoffs. Indeed, when it comes to the pitching – especially the bullpen – everything DID break right. Felix was Cy Young quality, Iwakuma bounced back to normal after losing a month, Chris Young might be Comeback Player of the Year, Roenis Elias successfully made the jump from AA and stuck with the big league club the whole way. In spite of last week’s games in Houston and Toronto, the pitching carried this club.
But, when it comes to the hitting, a lot of shit went wrong, and we still managed to get pretty damn close. Corey Hart was a huge bust. Smoak was his usual self. Brad Miller was a disaster for half the year. Michael Saunders couldn’t stay healthy. None of our center fielders or designated hitters could … hit. Zunino was boom or bust at the plate, with his sub-.200 batting average. All of our mid-season trade targets ended up hurting us more than helping. The only things that went right were Cano having an as-expected season, Seager taking the next step to being an All Star, and Ackley busting out to show us why he was the top-rated hitting prospect in his draft class for half a year. With an honorable mention for LoMo being a streaky first baseman who actually manages to have some hot streaks once in a while.
If certain young hitters mature, and if we’re able to bring in a couple bats to round out the lineup at DH and in the outfield, the 2015 Mariners could legitimately contend for a division title! How exciting is that?