If you’re a regular reader of this site, you might recall a post I wrote on August 1st. It mostly recapped the Wade Miley trade – in context with the rest of the deals we made earlier in July – with a little bit at the end about how the Mariners were at a crossroads. It was still just a LITTLE too early to sell off every last bit and start playing for next year, but, well, I’ll just go ahead and quote myself:
My bet is that this upcoming homestand – starting tonight with 4 against the Red Sox, then 3 against the Angels over the weekend, then 3 more against the Tigers – is going to be the most important homestand of the year. There’s one off-day this month for the Mariners, and it takes place after that Tigers series. If you don’t see something like an 8-2 record in those ten games, I think we go into full-on Play For Next Year mode.
So, what did the Mariners do? They went out and fucking did it. They matched the 8-2 record I called for! Why 8-2? Well, 10-0 and 9-1 felt a little unrealistic, but I knew it still had to be a dominant stretch if we’re to take this team seriously. The Mariners started the homestand 2-2 against the Red Sox before winning out, and here we are: leapfrogged Houston to get back into 2nd place in the A.L. West, pulled to within half a game of the Tigers, and within 1.5 games of those very same Red Sox for the 2nd Wild Card spot.
Genius is such a STRONG word, but thank you guys, seriously …
It feels like so much has happened in these last 10 days! Steve Cishek blew another save, got demoted, then landed on the DL with a hip injury. Edwin Diaz has taken the closer’s role and RUN with it! We traded for Arquimedes Caminero, who has been electric late in games, every bit as nasty as Diaz. We’ve seen the best and worst of Felix Hernandez (but, overall, it feels like he’s REALLY close to turning the corner). We’ve seen Iwakuma sack up immensely. We’ve seen a bullpen absolutely CLAMP DOWN on games. We’ve seen unlikely offensive heroes (O’Malley, Heredia, Freeman) and we’ve seen our stars step up in big ways (Cano, Cruz, Seager). We’ve seen Mike Zunino take a stranglehold over the starting catcher’s position, the return of Ketel Marte from his bout with mono, and some stout play out of Aoki since his call back up to the Majors. Everyone is scratching and clawing and trying to take every inch, like winning baseball teams are supposed to!
And now, our reward is that we’re back in the race. 49 games left this season. 7 games against the Rangers, 6 more against the Astros, and a jaunty 3-game home series against the Blue Jays. 16 of our remaining 49 games are against what I would call legitimate playoff contenders. The rest are against teams like the Athletics, Angels, Brewers, Yankees, White Sox, and Twins. This is a very do-able stretch of games! So, of course, you know the Mariners will find a way to fuck it up against those losers, and we’ll all harken back to this day – when we had a post-season berth well within our reach and blew it.
As far as last night’s game is concerned, it was a real beaut! The previous night’s game went 15 innings, and so I’m sure everyone was pretty well worn out from that. I know the bullpen was! Which necessitated sending Heredia back to Tacoma for one of their starters – who will probably only see bullpen action on an emergency/garbage time basis. But, with King Felix on the mound, you had to figure he was going to do everything in his power to stay in the game as long as possible.
It was really a terrific effort. It looked like this was one of those pitch-to-contact games for Felix, especially early, as he was making quick work of the Tigers in the first few innings. But, that 4th inning – that saw the Tigers tie the game at one run apiece – along with some key late-game at bats (guys were fouling pitches off left and right!) really inflated Felix’s pitch count. He ended up throwing 117 across 7 innings, but still held the Tigers to 3 hits and 4 walks. You can’t say the walks aren’t concerning, but this is why he’s the King. Kings don’t always have their best stuff, but still get the job done. I know it seems like we say that about him most every start this year, but sometimes Kings don’t have the best seasons for whatever reasons. He certainly isn’t in the running for Cy Young – hell, he’s not even the best starter on this TEAM this year (Iwakuma) – but he continues to show his worth just by battling and generating positive results and keeping this team in ballgames.
To not only eat up 7 innings, but to keep the Tigers vaunted offense to only a single run in that span – giving the Mariners’ offense enough time to eventually push a couple more runs across to win it – is EXACTLY what an Ace brings to the table.
SO YOU CAN EAT SHIT IF YOU’RE STILL TALKING ABOUT GETTING RID OF KING FELIX!
(he is my muse; my flame)
Finally, props to Cano for the solo bomb in the first, and Cruz for the go-ahead bomb to dead center in the 8th. They sent everybody home winners, except for Tigers fans, who can suck it.
Much deserved off-day today, followed by a fascinating 20-game stretch. This is pretty fun, isn’t it?
It would have to take quite a lot for something to hold my interest with more fervor than the impending Seahawks pre-season. The Mariners being in the thick of it, though, has me on pins & needles! I don’t want this season to end! I don’t want to shift focus to football just yet! I want to treat the pre-season as it deserves to be treated: with a glancing fancy; not with the usual all-encompassing passion of the last few years.
There is a time for football, but August is meant for baseball. For the first time in forever, that sentence actually means something.