The Mariners have a 3-game winning streak. How about that.
King Felix came back and didn’t embarrass himself. He was on a pitch count of around 50 pitches or so, and ended up going just a hair over that trying to get the final out in the fourth. He gave up a double to his final batter and was pulled for Ryan Garton to get out of the little mini-jam.
Which brings up a quick aside, as I’d like to praise Scott Servais for this thing he’s been doing lately. I suppose I only noticed it because so many of our fucking starters this year have gone well under the 5-inning mark, but when it’s early in a game and the starter is clearly faltering, when Servais pulls him, he doesn’t go immediately to the long reliever, which I agree with 100%. With a bunch of runners on base, and the other team clearly seeing & hitting the ball well that day, you don’t need to replace one mediocre starter with another mediocre starter (and what is a long reliever if not a mediocre starter?). You need to bring in a standard one inning-type reliever to put the clamp down on further scoring that inning. Then, assuming he gets out of the jam, go ahead and bring your long reliever in the NEXT inning, with a clean slate and no runners on base.
It’s not a big thing, but I think it’s very smart and deserves to be acknowledged.
Anyway, getting back, Felix held the Rangers to 1 run over his 3.2 innings of work. He gave up 3 hits, 0 walks, and 3 strikeouts, and generally kept the Rangers off balance most of the time he was out there. I’m not creaming my pants or anything, but it’s certainly better than a lot of what we’ve seen from this rotation in recent weeks.
Then, from the fifth inning onward, Andrew Albers took over, closing this game out. He went a full five innings, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits, 1 walk, with 6 strikeouts. It was announced before the game that Ariel Miranda is going to get some time off to rest his over-worked arm (which is certainly the prudent thing to do), and for the time being Andrew Moore is going to make the start on Sunday in his place. People on Twitter were rightly manic about the snubbing of Albers – who has been a better pitcher for this team this year, and deserves the honor of taking over the rotation spot Miranda is vacating – but my hunch is after this turn, Albers will get his shot again. Or, even if he doesn’t, it’s not like this team has suddenly, magically, fixed everything that was wrong with its rotation. This team WILL need its long relievers again before the season is over! You haven’t seen the last of Andrew Albers, I promise you!
It would’ve been a magnificent outing for Albers, if not for the 3-run homer he gave up in the bottom of the seventh. But, by that point, the Mariners had racked up a 10-1 lead, so we weren’t in any danger.
In their 3 wins this series, the Mariners beat the Rangers by a combined score of 28-8. THE BATS ARE ALIVE! Just in time to be silenced in Houston this weekend, because we can’t have nice things; but on the off-chance that they’re not, this is the perfect time for this offense to be heating up.
Haniger finally went hitless, but did walk and score a run. Segura had a hit and a run. Zunino had 2 walks, a hit and an RBI. But, those are small potatoes compared to the heavy lifting being done by the middle of the order.
Cruz, Seager, and Yonder Alonso (dropped from 2 to 6 in the lineup, which is exactly where he fits best) combined to go 9 for 12 with all the doubles and homers, as well as 7 of the 10 runs scored, and 8 of the 10 RBI. Don’t look now, but Seager is up to 25 homers on the season, and Cruz is up to 33. GREAT time for them to get hot!
Unfortunately, as I alluded to in the title, in spite of this 3-game winning streak, the Mariners haven’t made up any ground on the Twins, as they’re still 3.5 games back. The M’s did do a good job of passing the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Rays, and we’re holding steady a half game back of the Angels (the only team between us and the Twins now), but as I keep saying, time’s a-wastin’. 15 games left in the season, including 3 against the Astros this weekend, and 3 against the magma-hot Indians (winners of 22 straight, an all-time American League record) next weekend.
Sadly, this feels like a good time to play one last game of fetch with Old Yeller before we take the Mariners out behind the barn and shoot ’em. The last game I attended was back in August for Edgar Martinez Weekend, so I figure I should get out to one more before it’s all said and done. Next week features the final six home games of the 2017 season; I recommend getting out there one last time to do the same. If things hold as predicted, I’ll be going to the game where Corey Kluber klubs us to death. Should be good times.