On the downside, the Mariners had their 6-game winning streak snapped. On the plus side, they won a series, as expected.
Let’s call a spade a spade here: the Oakland Athletics are terrible this year. To NOT win that series would’ve been a huge disappointment, and quite frankly, something the Same Ol’ Mariners would have done. As has been noted countless times, all the rest of these games are vitally important. There’s no screwing around anymore. Relievers are going to be pushed a little harder, hitters are going to have to focus a little more, and starters are going to be the backbone of this whole fucking thing.
With Taijuan Walker still in Tacoma, finding himself, getting his groove back, or whatever you want to call it (4.1 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits, and 4 fucking walks on Saturday, in what we’ll go ahead and call The Disgruntled Start), the team turned to recent call-up Joe Wieland on Friday to make his first Major League start of the season. Joe is, what can only be described as a journeyman; a 26 year old veteran of the upper minors, who has 10 career Big League starts to his name. His numbers in Tacoma this year are less than encouraging (he was really butchered early in the season), but he’s been coming on of late, with 4 of his last 5 starts being of the Quality variety. I was having my ass kicked by Guns N’ Roses at CenturyLink Field on Friday, so I didn’t see a second of this game, but it sounded like he mostly kept us in the game until they brought him back out there in the 6th inning and he couldn’t get an out (giving up 4 straight singles – including one with the bases loaded – before being pulled). To be fair, his pitch count was ridiculously low, and he’d been okay after a rocky first, so it would’ve been stupid to pull him after the 5th.
With the dud out of the way, you could sense the Mariners were at a bit of a crossroads there on Saturday. Would they rebound like champions? Or, would they Same Ol’ Mariners it up, effectively destroying a lot of the momentum they’ve built up since the All Star Break (and particularly since the Griffey Weekend)?
Well, things were rolling right along with Iwakuma on the mound. He had a rough 2nd inning where he threw a ton of pitches, but he limited them to 1 run, and really settled down nicely until the 6th, when he was battered around pretty good. By that time, though, the Mariners put 4 runs on the board, and the bullpen made sure it stuck. Vincent, Caminero, Wilhelmsen, and Diaz combined for 3.2 innings of 2-hit, 0-walk ball to secure the 4-3 victory.
That brought us to the rubber match yesterday, with Wade “Thank God We Kept The GOOD Wade” LeBlanc on the mound. Ol’ Wadey-boy had himself a GAME, racking up 7 strikeouts, but like the two guys before him, faltered in the 6th inning. He still got the Quality Start (making it 5 of 7 this season), as he handed a lead over to the bullpen who made it stick. We even managed to prevent using Edwin Diaz in back-to-back games (though, to be fair, he did have to warm up in the 9th), as the Mariners won 8-4.
Seager, O’Malley, Aoki, Cruz, and Cano all had fine weekends at the plate, and the team played clean ball for the most part. Just what the doctor ordered.
Now, we go into Anaheim for a 4-game set, with the Angels on a 10-game losing streak. Anything less than a 3-1 record would be a REAL disappointment. It sounds like Joe Wieland will get another chance to take the hill, so hopefully he’ll rebound from a semi-poor performance. King Felix and Iwakuma will also make starts this series, as well as (hopefully) the return of Paxton from that line drive that hit his elbow. Go get ’em, boys!