It’s nice to see Marco Gonzales have a little success, I guess. He was still only able to go five innings, but I have to assume that’s because he’s coming from the bullpen and hasn’t yet been stretched out. Still, 5 innings and 3 runs is far and away his best
outing start of the season. He got into a couple of mini-jams, but was able to get out of them without throwing away the game. He struck out 6 and walked only 1, while spreading 8 hits around. And, he got his first win in a Mariners uniform (and his first Major League victory since 2014). When you tack that onto his 4 shutout innings from his previous appearance, let’s hope that’s the start of a nice, successful run to close out the season.
It’s nice to see the offense bust out in a big way. Haniger continues to smoke the ball, with 2 more hits (including a double) and 2 more runs scored. Cano had 3 hits (including a double), with a run and an RBI. Cruz had 2 hits and 2 runs; Seager hit a 3-run bomb and also scored 2 runs; Ben Gamel also had a 3-run bomb as part of his 3-hit day. On top of that, Zunino and Alonso both had 2 hits apiece to really drag this game kicking and screaming past the 3-hour mark.
And sure, it’s nice that the dregs of the bullpen mopped up the final four innings without giving up another run. All in all, it adds up to a nice 10-3 victory for the Mariners, evening up the series, bringing their record to within one game of .500, and maintaining the 3.5 game deficit from the second Wild Card.
All of these are nice things, but they won’t mean a damn thing until the Mariners are able to manage a winning streak.
The encouraging thing is, the Mariners might FINALLY be able to do something here. It’s going to take everything they have, and if I had to bet the family farm, I’d 100% bet against it happening, but as of the middle of September – with just over 2 weeks left in the season – the Mariners might have finally fleshed out a starting rotation.
I know, right! But, go with me on this, I’ve had a long
day week month life.
Mike Leake has looked awfully solid in his first few starts here. If he can keep it up, he’s a nice little #3 pitcher for this rotation. He goes tonight.
Then, there’s Felix. The last time he came off the DL, he was able to make 8 starts before re-injuring the same body part. Of those 8 starts, 5 were useable. Given how late we are in the season, 5 good starts should be plenty. He goes tomorrow (he’ll be on a limited pitch count for the first game, but that’s what we have all these long relievers for).
Then, we’ve got Paxton kicking off the Houston series. The last time he came off the DL, he was able to make 14 starts before getting injured again. Of those 14, 12 were useable. That’s more than enough.
Then, there’s Erasmo Ramirez. He never gets injured. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes you just wish he’d go on the DL for the rest of your life. He’s riding a 6-game Quality Start streak that has to be the best run of pitching in his entire career. He has almost single-handedly held this rotation together while Felix and Paxton have been gone. If we have to go with a #4 starter, I’ve seen worse.
Then, there’s TBD. I’m going to flip the fuck out if Ariel Miranda is still in this rotation come Sunday, because as we’ve clearly seen, both Marco Gonzales and Andrew Moore have both pitched excellent in recent games. Either way, you have to expect Miranda is on the world’s shortest leash; it’s really more of a Chinese finger trap at this point. I have to expect, if he gets the start, there will be a man warming up in the bullpen right alongside him before the game even gets going. If you consider the team’s fifth starter just a Bullpen Day for the month of September (knowing full well that if by some miracle the M’s make the playoffs, they’ll never need a fifth starter, and likely won’t even need a fourth), I’d be okay with that.
So, you know, the blueprint is there. Decent starting pitching, lots of clutch hitting, and the bullpen needs to catch fire the rest of the way. 5 games against the Rangers, 3 against Oakland, 3 against the Angels: all should be winnable games. Then, there are 3 against the Astros and 3 against the Indians. I know the Astros are our kryptonite, but we’re going to have to find a way to win at least 2 of those games this weekend. And I know the Indians are riding an insane 20-game winning streak, but we just have to hope they cool the fuck off before we play them at home next weekend, and again take 2 of 3.
Realistically, I think the Mariners need to go 13-4 the rest of the way to lock up the second Wild Card. That would put us at 85-77. Right now, the Twins (who currently hold that spot) are 75-69, with 18 games to go. If we went 13-4 and the Twins went only went 9-9, we’d beat them by 1 game. So, yeah, that’s what we’re looking at. And let’s not forget the three teams in between us and the Twins (Angels, Rangers & Royals), nor the two teams still hovering around just behind us (Rays & Orioles).
When you lay it all out there like that, it really looks daunting. It’s different when you see the Mariners are 3.5 games back. Theoretically, you can make that up in a week! But, when you factor in how few games are left in the season, and you realize your fate isn’t in your hands anymore, it seems impossible, doesn’t it? Crazier things have happened, but I have to admit this would be one of the craziest.
What a damn, fucking waste this season has been.