The Mariners Feel Their Rotation Is Set?

So, I guess there was this interview with Jerry Dipoto on 710am recently where he said the Mariners are more or less set with the starting pitchers they have.  Don’t expect any major moves – either via free agency, or trades – between now and Spring Training.  This, in spite of the fact that at the moment, there are a TON of starting pitchers on the free agent market.  The supply is high, the demand appears to be low for now, and so you know what that means:  good pitchers could be brought in for a song.

And the Mariners aren’t going to take advantage of this?  Are they fucking NUTS?

This feels like a Once in a Decade type of thing.  Usually, Major League Baseball’s free agency period is a feeding frenzy of 30 ravenous coyotes all going after one small, dying group of deer.  The biggest, toughest ones snatch the best players for themselves, leaving the rest of the league trying to squeeze blood from a stone (lots of weird metaphors here, I apologize).  Every once in a while, the Mariners go big game hunting, but more often than not, we’re among the lower-level teams picking off the scraps.

But, this year, there’s actual talent on the market!  That the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, and Angels have all passed over!

On the flipside, you’ve got the Mariners, whose plan apparently involves going into 2018 with the same set of rotation pitchers they had at the end of 2017.  I know I ranted my way down this rabbithole on Twitter earlier in the week, but let’s run down everyone:

  • James Paxton – has never stayed healthy in his entire career
  • Felix Hernandez – clearly on the downside of his career, also coming off of multiple seasons of injuries
  • Mike Leake – who was very good with the M’s late last year, but those were his first 5 games as a member of the American League, so he had the element of being an unknown on his side (he also out-pitched his career numbers to an amazing degree, so it’s safe to say 2018 Leake is in for some heavy regression)
  • Ariel Miranda – who is just a so-so fifth starter type as it is, who faltered GREATLY at the end of the season last year
  • Andrew Moore – who just got POUNDED almost each and every appearance
  • Marco Gonzales – who also got POUNDED almost each and every appearance
  • Erasmo Ramirez – who probably had his best-ever sustained run of greatness last season after being traded back to the M’s, but you’re a fucking FOOL if you believe that’s going to continue on into 2018 and beyond
  • Hisashi Iwakuma – who is coming off of a lifetime of injuries, who is currently on a minor league deal, and who knows if he’s even recovered from last year’s debilitating arm issues?

And that’s not even getting into all the other AAA nobodies we have in this organization who are all surely just as bad as all the AAA nobodies we had to suffer through in 2017 thanks to all the injuries and nonsense.  At least we don’t have Yovani Gallardo wasting our fucking time with his bullshit.

I mean, this is a joke, right?  That the Mariners are “set” with their starting rotation?  You do realize we’re in the FUCKING American League West, with the best team in all of baseball (the Astros) who have done nothing but get BETTER this offseason (especially if they figure out a way to bring in Gerrit Cole).  Then, there’s the Angels who finished 2 games ahead of the Mariners in 2017, who still have the best player alive (Mike Trout), and who brought in the consensus best free agent pitcher/hitter in the world (Shohei Ohtani).  Then, there’s the Texas Rangers, who had the same record as the Mariners last year, and had injury issues of their own to contend with.  Oh, and you can’t dismiss Oakland out of hand, because they always deal in up-and-coming prospects and you never know when it’s all going to come together for them out of nowhere.

What have the Mariners done?  They traded for a second baseman that they’re converting to a centerfielder, they signed a reliever, and they traded for a first baseman who might not be any good (and who might not even be any better than the first basemen we had last year).  That’s it.

This is a team, mind you, with a majority stake in their own fucking regional sports network!  They’re practically printing money!  And this is all we can muster?

Don’t forget, this is also the team that refuses to tear it all down and start a rebuild.  Which, fine (they probably couldn’t anyway, because no one in their right minds would give legitimate prospects for the likes of aging veterans like Cano, Cruz, or Felix, no matter how much the fans are clamoring for it).  We’ve got these veterans, we’ve got a solid offense, let’s play to win now.

Well, then LET’S GO!  Let’s sign one of these stud starting pitchers still out there on the free agent market!  What, we had all this money to pursue Ohtani, but we don’t have a few sheckles for Yu Darvish or Lance Lynn or any of the numerous starting pitchers out there who are BETTER and MORE RELIABLE than the ones we have under contract?

You know what really gets me?  Every time the Mariners decide to bite the bullet and hit the free agent market in earnest, they have to over-pay to bring in the guys they sign.  Sometimes it works out (Cano and Cruz have been great signings, for instance), but a lot of times they’re busts (Carlos Silva anyone?  Jarrod Washburn?  ET FUCKING AL).  Now, we have a chance to get some really GOOD players on the cheap (what are they going to do, retire in protest?  GTFO), and what do we do?  Clutch our purse strings and claim poverty.

Bullshit.  Fucking BULLSHIT!

God damn these fucking Mariners!  WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING HERE YOU GUYS???  You do realize the M’s are WAY WORSE than both the Astros and Angels!  You do realize we have to play everyone in our division 19 times apiece!  That’s 76 games – almost HALF YOUR FUCKING SCHEDULE – and you’re not even fucking trying.

Well, if you’re not going to try, then blow the fucking thing up.  But, these half measures are fucking killing me.  Normally, when I write a season off before it starts, it’s because the Mariners are fucking miserable failures.  But, this year, if you planted the Mariners in any other mediocre division, they’d probably net at least 10 more victories than they will in the A.L. West.  Fucking unbelievable.

Except, no.  VERY believable.  Welcome to YOUR Seattle Mariners, everyone!  Just shoot me in the fucking head right now and get it over with.

Seattle Mariners – Bend Over, Here It Comes Again

There’s an old timey military slang term for ANY Mariners occasion!

Yesterday, I told you to “Remember This Day” because in all likelihood, that was going to be as good as it got this season.  Later on in that post, I made the argument that the Mariners should use Paxton every fifth day as opposed to every fifth game, because the rest of our rotation is fucking God awful and we needed to maximize our lone quality starter as much as possible in this stretch run.  I would go on to say the team most certainly wouldn’t do that though, then added, “The way this season is going, Paxton will probably blow out his arm tonight and the point will be moo.”

DO I KNOW THESE SEATTLE MARINERS OR DO I KNOW THESE SEATTLE MARINERS???

Look, I’m not saying you should worship me as your lord and savior, but I am saying the end is fucking nigh and you might as well get a jumpstart on saying your prayers now.

I mean, can you even fucking believe this fucking season?  Can you even fucking believe these fucking Mariners?  As ALWAYS, the instant we get some positivity, some hope, some optimism for the future into our lives, the Mariners do literally everything in their power to rain diarrhea down all over our faces.

We were already in a position where Paxton had to win out.  That was always going to be the bare minimum to staying in legitimate contention (and not the “3 games out with 3 days to go” sort of contention the Mariners have been in in recent seasons, where everything had to go absolutely perfectly the final week of the season just to tie for a second Wild Card spot).  So, obviously, losing last night in a Paxton start is far from ideal.  As I got into yesterday, with the shit sandwich we’ve got going over the weekend in Gonzales-Ramirez-Miranda (where instead of a piece of shit in between two pieces of bread, the sandwich is concocted of three stacked pieces of shit), the odds of even winning just ONE of those games seems pretty remote.

But, then to lose Paxton to a pectoral injury (where he’ll have his MRI today and we’ll find out if he needs to go on the DL or not) is just the kind of ass raping Mariners fans should have come to expect not only from this season, but this lifetime of Mariners fandom.

The Seattle Mariners:  Stick Around Long Enough & You’re Guaranteed To Get Fucked In Your Tight Little Asshole.

There are simply no words to describe my emotional state exactly.  Numb is certainly high on the list, because who exactly could be shocked by this?  Rage, as well, not at any one person, but more at just life itself.  As the website motto states, “Why Do We Put Ourselves Through This?”  I’ll continue to ask that of myself to my final breath.  There’s sadness, of course.  Little bit of depression.  And just a pinch of lunatic hilarity, because come on, this isn’t REAL!  This isn’t a THING that HAPPENS!  Teams don’t just lose all their pitchers – except for their very WORST one in Gallardo – stay in contention, then climb into the driver’s seat when they get some of their pitchers back, only to lose those pitchers once again!  The film version of this season would be sent back for constant re-writes because there’s no way Hollywood could buy this kind of madness!

Oh, and get this!  The kicker!  Last night, Paxton was a little off and gave up 3 runs in his 6.1 innings of work (why the team would risk sending him out there again to blow past 100 pitches in the seventh inning is something to discuss another day).  The Mariners were pretty well shut down by Tyler Skaggs over the same number of innings, and the game went into the bottom of the eighth with the M’s still trailing 3-0.  Then, all of a sudden, Jean Segura hit a solo homer to get us on the board; Cano doubled to continue the rally; and Nelson Cruz blasted a 2-run home run to centerfield to tie the game up!  Here we go!

With Edwin Diaz coming in to pitch the bottom of the ninth (in a non-save situation, with no save situations forthcoming because the Mariners were at home and that’s not how saves work in extra innings, with the proper protocol being you use your best relievers in this situation, and Diaz is our best reliever, so there’s no point in saving him for later, please get that through your thick heads, you can’t just NOT pitch him in tie games because there’s not a save on the line, that’s fucking stupidity and you look like morons when you go on Twitter and complain about this; if it were a road game, you might have a case, but not in a home situation where the home team has final at-bats), it looked like things might turn out not so horrific, all things considered.

But, Diaz didn’t have it, the home plate umpire REALLY didn’t have it (and I don’t think he ever does, because that guy is the second-worst umpire in all of baseball; you know who #1 is), the bases were loaded with two outs for Mike Trout, and he did the rest, because that’s what he does.  He hunts down and slaughters Mariners FOR FUN!  Sure, he makes millions of dollars playing the game of baseball, but he would murder Seattle Mariners for free, that’s how much that sick fuck enjoys it.

So, here we are.  Remember last year, around this time, the Angels were in town for Ken Griffey Jr. weekend?  Remember how the crowds were electric?  Remember how I went to all three of those games that weekend, got all the free shit they gave away, and generally had a fantastic time getting day drunk and night drunk and day drunk again?

Also, remember how the Mariners won all three of those games, like it was fate?  They pulled themselves out from obscurity and made another run at “contention” and we, as Mariners fans, were on Cloud 9 for at least one weekend in August?

Well, here we are again.  The Angels are in town for Edgar Martinez weekend.  I won’t be there on Sunday, but I’ll be there tonight and tomorrow.  And, I’ve got a REALLY bad feeling that the Mariners are going to get swept, and we’re going to have last year to thank.

Oh, you don’t believe in karma?  That’s fine.  The Mariners are going to lose anyway.  Because that’s what they do.  And I’ll be right there, soaking it all in, day drinking and night drinking and day drinking again anyway.

Because that’s what I do!

Die Hard With A Vengeance: Mariners Annihilate The Angels

That thing where you spell annihilate correctly in your first try …

Ariel Miranda was on the top of his game, the hitters came to play, and the Angels couldn’t do much of anything right.  It all adds up to a 10-0 victory on a Friday night.

Cano hit 2 homers and 5 RBI; Zunino hit a solo bomb to come within 2 RBI of the franchise record for most RBIs in a month; and Gamel and Seager each had 4 hits to do some serious work on their averages.  All in all, it was a welcome breakout to end the 4-game losing streak.

Miranda was dynamic, going 7 innings of 2-hit, 2-walk ball and Max Povse went the final two innings, looking shaky, but ultimately preserving the shutout.  Considering Mike Trout is still out this series, it’s hard to be too impressed, but the Angels still have a better record than the Mariners, so explain that one to me.

The Mariners Might Actually Salvage A .500 Road Trip Later Today

After losing 2 of 3 in Washington, and then 2 of 3 in Boston, you start to wonder, “What’s the point?”  Yet, here we are, one win away from a 2-game sweep of the Rockies, thanks to a hard-fought 6-5 victory yesterday.

The Mariners had hits up and down the lineup, even Sam Gaviglio with a single that would come around to score.  Ben Gamel had a couple hits and a couple runs scored, Danny Valencia had 3 hits and an RBI, Mike Zunino had a couple hits and a walk, Kyle Seager had a double and 2 RBI.  And, once again, the Mariners left a bunch of runs out on the table, going 2 for 13 with RISP.  I would anticipate a huge breakout any day now.

Gaviglio was more or less rolling, giving up 3 runs in 5 innings, with a very low pitch count, before coming back out for the 6th.  He gave up back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before being pulled; both would come around to score.  Nevertheless, the Mariners had already scored their 6 runs by this point, and the bullpen would prove masterful in locking down the victory.

Pazos went 1.1 innings, Zych went 0.2; Vincent, Scrabble, and Altavilla mixed and matched and each got an out in the 8th inning, and Edwin Diaz looked downright dominant in closing things out in the 9th.

After a promising start to the month, where the Mariners went 6-2, they’ve been in a nosedive, winning only 4 of their next 16 games.  The Mariners have won 2 in a row here and time will tell if it’s just a blip in a much longer, more painful losing stretch, or if this is the beginning of the Great Turnaround.

On the plus side, James Paxton returns tomorrow.  The rotation for the next five days looks like this:  Miranda, Paxton, Gallardo, Bergman, and Gaviglio.  That’s obviously far from ideal, but Miranda has made great strides this year, as has Paxton before he got hurt (and Paxton was starting much further ahead than Miranda to boot, so it’s really saying something to say that Paxton has made a lot of strides); and Bergman and Gaviglio have looked semi-competent at times this season.  It’s encouraging to see Felix start to throw the ball pain-free (it’s less encouraging to see Iwakuma not-so-pain-free; and I’ll believe it when I see it for Smyly).  I don’t want it to sound like I’m getting my hopes up here or anything.  The REAL Great Turnaround for this season might not hit its stride until July or August, at which point it might be too late to mean anything as far as the playoffs are concerned.  I’m just looking for baby steps right now.  I’m looking for this team to not have to make daily roster moves between Seattle and Tacoma.  Then, I’ll be happy if Scott Servais can simply settle on a back-end of the bullpen that’s based on merit, and not based on whose arm is the freshest.  It’s got to be discouraging for someone like Jean Machi – who was solid for Seattle before he had to be sent back down, only to never get a repeat opportunity – or someone like Pagan, who had a wonderful 4-inning scoreless outing before going back to Tacoma.

Then, once we’re able to lock down the bullpen, wouldn’t it be nice to start getting guys back from injury without immediately seeing other guys have to go on the DL?  The Mariners will never be at 100% full strength, but wouldn’t it be nice to see them at 90 or 95% full strength, for like a full month or more?  I KNOW, look at the big dreamer over here; next thing I’ll be asking for is fresh air and clean drinking water!

This is why I don’t feel even remotely sorry for Angels fans for Mike Trout going on the DL for 6-8 weeks.  Talk to me when you’ve had to start Chase De Jong FOUR TIMES.

Mariners Overcome A Bad Bullpen To Beat The Angels

Just one night after Scott Servais made a mind-bogglingly stupid bullpen decision, he did it again.  Long story short:  Hisashi Iwakuma was rolling through five innings.  With a low pitch count, and no runs allowed, it only made sense for him to go back out for the sixth.  Then, he gave up a double to Calhoun, a homer to Trout, and a single to Pujols, and it only made sense at this point to pull him for a reliever.  In general, I trust Hisashi Iwakuma as far as I can throw him, but I REALLY distrust him the third time through a lineup (where they showed on the broadcast that he’s giving up a batting average well over .400 this season).

With a man on base and nobody out, in a game the Mariners were leading 4-2, Servais apparently thought this would be the perfect spot to introduce Emilio Pagan to his Major League debut.

I should point out that before Tuesday’s game, the Mariners made some more moves.  Casey Fien was once again DFA’d, and he once again passed through to Tacoma, where I feel like it needs to be a good, long while before he’s called back up again, because it’s getting pretty ridiculous at this point.  Also, Dan Vogelbach was optioned back to Tacoma, because he was a disaster in his brief stint in the Majors (only fuelling my fire that he’s another in a long line of first base busts for this team).  When I hear things like he’s getting down on himself for a few botched plays in the field, and that it’s carrying over into his at-bats, it leads me to believe he’s not emotionally stable or mature enough for the Majors, and likely never will be.  It’s not all going to be roses and sunshine; you’re going to have to push through some hardships!  If an error here and there is going to so devastate you, then maybe baseball’s just not your game.  I know!  Let’s have a spelling contest!

In their place, the aforementioned Emilio Pagan was called up, along with another right-handed reliever, veteran Jean Machi (to make room on the roster, Shawn O’Malley was placed on the 60-day DL).  Machi went 2 shutout innings on Tuesday, in between Diaz’s blown save and Pazos’ loss, and put in another shutout inning last night to get the win.  But, before we get to that, let’s go back to Pagan’s eventful debut.

I really want to kill Servais for putting Pagan into a situation like this, like I did yesterday when he went directly to Diaz even though he had a lefty in the ‘pen all warmed up, but I don’t know if it’s as egregious.  I mean, yeah, it’s pretty shitty to put a 26 year old rookie into a game like this, but what else was he supposed to do?  Who else was he supposed to turn to?  Dan Altavilla was sent to Tacoma, Evan Scribner is on the DL, James Pazos and Tony Zych both threw over 30 pitches the night before.  I mean, you could argue that, had Servais handled the bullpen situation correctly on Tuesday, we wouldn’t have been in such a mess on Wednesday.  Pazos likely would’ve faced just the one batter on Tuesday and would’ve had plenty of arm to go again last night.  But, with the batters coming up, I don’t know if you wanted to have a lefty reliever in there.

Still, I might’ve gone straight to Nick Vincent, who only threw two pitches on Tuesday, so you figured he had at least 2 innings in him last night.  As it turns out, that’s pretty much what he had to do anyway (1.2 innings), because Pagan could only get the one out, and that one out was a miraculous catch by Heredia robbing the Angels of a home run in left field.

Pagan gave up Iwakuma’s third run, to really sour his night, and one of his own before being pulled.  Vincent came in and surrendered a double that cost Pagan a couple more runs on the ol’ ERA, but eventually got out of the jam.  However, the damage was done, as a 4-0 lead turned into a 6-4 deficit.

The bullpen held it down after that, just long enough for the Mariners to put up a 4-spot in the bottom of the eighth inning.  With one out, Seager and Valencia singled.  Heredia’s groundout moved them up 90 feet, and Motter (pinch hitting for Zunino) walked to load the bases.  That led to Dyson’s 2-out double to right field, tying the ballgame, followed by Segura’s bouncing single through the hole between third and short to take a 2-run lead.  Edwin Diaz, this time on for just the 3-out save, gave up another homer to Kole Calhoun (his second against Diaz in as many nights), but other than hitting Trout, he struck out the side to get the save and give the Mariners a much-needed 8-7 victory.

Some people were getting on the Mariners for not doing enough on offense to this point, and in many ways I’m coming around to that thinking.  I mean, let’s face it, the way this pitching staff is going, it shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Maybe some of the injuries we wouldn’t have foreseen, but we knew coming into this season that this team’s pitching would be the weak link.  We KNEW that the offense was going to have to bring its lunch pail on many occasions like last night.  It seems like the Mariners are doing a good job, when you hear about how they’re near the top in the A.L. in runs scored, but a lot of the reason for that is due to blowouts.  8-0 and 11-1 victories are nice and all, but this team is going to need a hearty collection of 8-7 wins if it’s going to try to stay in contention.

At this point, I’d gladly settle for being a .500 ballclub by the time the month of May comes to a close.  That means going 16-12.  Obviously, playing .500 ball isn’t going to get you in the post-season, but it buys the Mariners some time until guys can start getting healthy again.  If we can scratch and claw our way to .500 by the time Felix and Haniger come back, it would set us up for a nice stretch of games in June and July.  The Mariners are REALLY going to have to get hot in the summer months if they want to crash the playoffs; between May 31 and July 30, the Mariners play 37 of 53 games at home.  It’s honestly like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and if they don’t take advantage, this season could really go sideways, as from July 31 through August 30, the Mariners are on the road for 21 of 28 before September call-ups.  I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, looking at the calendar, but I’m just trying to illustrate how important these next four weeks are.

The Mariners don’t need to destroy the month of May (though, I’d gladly accept it, of course).  They just need to win more series than they lose.  I’m not asking a lot, just a record of 16-12.  Or, rather, going forward, a record of 15-11.  Slow and steady, people!

Everybody Welcome Back The Same Ol’ Mariners!

I dunno, what was all that stuff about winning a bunch of games and breaking the streak of non-playoff seasons?  Yeah, you know what?  Forget I said anything, I don’t know what I was thinking.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I was THINKING that this was a team that was pretty darn close to making the post-season last year, a team that made some pretty obvious upgrades to the offense, a team that gave itself a lot of bullpen options to choose from, and a team that – if nothing else – put together a veteran, savvy starting rotation to keep us in most games.  With that offense, and some solid bullpen play, this certainly looked like a team that could do some damage!

But, yeah, Mariners.  IT’S THE SAME OL’ MARINERS, EVERYONE!

Who are the Same Ol’ Mariners?  You know, they’re the key guys who get injured at the worst times.  They’re the superstars who suddenly become terrible.  They snatch defeats from the jaws of victory.  They provide fans with just enough hope to fool themselves into falling for this team yet again, and then they pull that rug out from under us and laugh at the idiots who fell flat on their asses.  Jerry Dipoto can do his damnedest to turn over the roster and make all the trades he wants, but regardless, what he’s going to get in return for all of his hard work are the Same Ol’ Mariners, here to bungle at baseball and waste all of our time for yet another summer.  By October, the Same Ol’ Mariners end up where they always end up:  in their homes, watching playoff baseball on TV, patting their backs for jobs well done.

Technically, Felix had a quality start last night – going 6 innings, giving up 3 runs – but I don’t know if anyone would describe that performance as “quality”.  He did have that 14-pitch at-bat to Mike Trout, as well as keeping him off the bases all three times he faced him.  And, you know, not for nothing, but any time your starter only gives up 3 runs in 6 innings, you should probably win that game (especially if you have an offense as well-regarded as Seattle’s).  But, you know, the Same Ol’ Mariners are who the Same Ol’ Mariners are.

In this case, their best set-up reliever (Evan Scribner) gives up a 2-run homer to Mike Trout in a 3-3 game, ultimately resulting in a 5-4 loss.

I wouldn’t blame the mediocre pitching entirely.  With the Same Ol’ Mariners, it’s always a TEAM effort!  The night started off pretty promising, with Mitch Haniger hitting a 2-run homer in the first inning to set the tone.  2-0 was eventually chipped away, one run at a time, by the Angels working over our Ace.  The worst part was our inept offense made THEIR starter, Ricky Nolasco, look like an Ace, as he settled down to go 6 innings, still giving up just the two runs.  We owned that guy in the past, but not even the luxury of facing probably the worst starting pitcher we’ll see on this road trip was enough for our offense to get going.

There were opportunities, of course!  In the fifth, Valencia got to third with one out, only to find Mike Zunino would rather go fishing than make smart decisions on which baseballs to swing at.  He did make up for it a little bit, knocking in a 2-out RBI single in the 7th inning (to, at the very least, get Felix off the hook for the loss).  In our best and last shot of the night, down 5-3, Segura and Cano both singled to put runners at the corners.  Nelson Cruz could’ve busted out of his slump in a major way, but instead only hit a sac fly.  With two outs, Kyle Seager could’ve busted out of his slump in a major way, but instead struck out and that was that.

Two series into the regular season, two series defeats.  Would you expect anything less from the Same Ol’ Mariners?  I know I wouldn’t!  This afternoon, Kuma comes in to try to salvage something out of this waking nightmare.  I wouldn’t count on it.

What Are You Supposed To Do With A Mariners Offense Playing Like This?

At some point this week, I decided I’d take it upon myself to post a recap of all the Mariners games, even on *shudder* the weekends.  Someone needs to slap some sense into me, preferably with a couple of perky C’s.

I don’t know what to tell you.  5 hits in a 5-1 defeat to the thoroughly unimpressive Angels.  1 for 7 with runners in scoring position, another 7 left on base.  I mean, what is this?  Is this Spring Training fatigue?  The fact that these guys have been away from home for so long, and now the MLB schedule-makers have tacked on an extra 7 days to this living nightmare?  Will a simple matter of some home cooking turn this thing around?

God, I hope it doesn’t take that long.  Going 1-6 in your first week isn’t an insurmountable mountain to climb, but it sure as shit makes life unnecessarily difficult.

I mean, it’s one thing to see Kyle Seager struggle in the early going; we’ve come to expect that at this point.  And we all knew the outfield would be a bit of a depressing mixed bag at the plate (currently hitting a collective 8 for 59 (.136) with 5 walks, 2 doubles, 1 homer, and 18 strikeouts).  But, I think what’s most alarming is the funk that Cano and Cruz have been in through 5 games.

Those are our rocks!  Our studs!  Our superstars!  6 hits in 39 at-bats (.154) with 2 doubles, 0 homers, 1 RBI, 5 walks, and a whopping 13 strikeouts.  I know 5 games is a small sample size and everything, but come on!

Really, you can go up and down the lineup and pull these lunatic numbers that make you wonder just what sort of fresh hell we’re in for this season, so I won’t bombard you with all the misery.  I will say that I have no problem with Segura so far; I like that Seager has at least taken the most walks on the team to feature the highest OBP (.364), even though he’s only batting .125; and I’m starting to come around to Mitch Haniger (who leads the team in extra-base hits with 2) mostly because he seems to also have a good command of the strike zone with a .333 OBP.

As far as last night’s game is concerned, we got our first look at Yovani Gallardo.  I came away not totally sick to my stomach!  Granted, he went 5 innings and gave up 3 runs (being pulled in the bottom of the 6th with no outs after giving up a solo homer and a hard-hit single) while only throwing 90 pitches, but there were issues outside of his control that severely altered the course of the game for him.

In the bottom of the first, Gallardo gave up a leadoff single, followed by an ever-so-unfortunate double to Kole Calhoun (opposite field, against the outfield shift, just BARELY touching the chalk of the left field foul line before bouncing into the stands).  If that ball lands foul, who knows where the inning takes him?  Even still, with no outs and runners on 2nd & 3rd, he only gave up a sac fly to Mike Trout before getting out of the inning.

Then, in the bottom of the third, disaster.  A couple of singles and a strikeout preceeded Trout coming to bat.  After spotting him a 3-0 count, the Mariners intentionally walked him to get to Albert Pujols with 1 out and the bases loaded.  Pujols obliged about as well as you could ask for with a weak grounder right at Kyle Seager.  It was a tailor-made double play ball to get out of the inning still down 1-0.  Instead, Seager totally biffed it, allowing a run to score with the bases still loaded.  I couldn’t tell you how many pitches that cost Gallardo in his pitch count, but he ended up striking out the very next batter before getting out of the bases loaded jam with a ground ball to third.

And you may say, “Well, his pitch count stalled at 90 anyway, so it’s not like he was THAT over-worked,” but I’ll say this:  pitches in high-pressure situations like that, with the bases loaded and less than 2 outs, count A LOT more than pitches with nobody on base.  Sure, it was mostly his doing that got the bases loaded in the first place, but in the end, he induced a ground ball that should’ve been a double play and instead was a fielder’s choice/error that got no one out.  That’s not on Gallardo.

All in all, I thought Gallardo looked okay.  I saw him touch 94mph on the gun, he was usually in the lower 90s with his fastball, and he was able to work both up and down in the zone to pretty solid effect.  I mean, he’s never going to be anything amazing, but he’s a veteran 5th starter, so a lot of his starts are going to look like this.  He’s going to spread around a bunch of hits, hopefully not walk too many, and usually keep you in enough ballgames to justify his roster spot.  Think of a Kevin Millwood or a Chris Young type moreso than a Wade Miley or a Joe Saunders type.  At least, that’s my hope.

Casey Fien looked pretty good in his first inning of relief, then gave up a 2-run homer in his second inning of relief.  But, he’s not really a guy you’re going to count on in the 8th inning of a game you’re winning; he’s a guy you’re going to see in games like this, where we’re losing but hoping he can keep it close enough for us to come back.  I think the jury is still out on him, but I also don’t see him going anywhere anytime soon, even with Tony Zych set to rejoin the Mariners at some point in the next week or two.

Finally, Dillon Overton got his first inning of relief in the soft landing we unfortunately couldn’t give to Chase De Jong.  Overton gave up a meaningless single and netted 2 strikeouts, but I couldn’t tell you how he looked because I turned off the TV after that 2-run homer Fien gave up.

Felix Day today.  Let’s hope he doesn’t have to cover first base.

Very Important Mariners Of 2017: Robinson Cano

Click HERE for the list of other Very Important Mariners Of 2017.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Robbie Cano was the best player on the Seattle Mariners in 2016.  Yeah, I know, I’m taking a HUGE risk in making that declaration.  Normally when you make that statement, though, you’re just comparing a good Mariner against a bunch of scrubs, but the 2016 team was pretty solid in many ways.  Cruz and Seager were dynamite as usual, and while the pitching was shaky at best, you’ve got to say a kind word about what Iwakuma was able to do, anchoring an injury-depleted (at times) pitching staff.  In years past, the best Mariner was always Felix, with 24 nobodies behind him.  In 2016, it actually means something when you say Cano was the best this team had to offer.

Truth be told, Cano was on a short list of best second basemen in all of baseball – both offensively and defensively – and in the running for best player in the entire league.  No one is clamoring to take away Mike Trout’s MVP award, but I’m just saying, Cano brought a lot to the table, and was a major reason why the Mariners stayed in contention for as long as they did.

While the Mariners did quite a bit to bolster the lineup and defense this offseason – particularly with the signing of Jean Segura, who was like the N.L.’s version of Cano – we’re going to need Robbie to be every bit the MVP candidate he was in 2016.

Aside from Kyle Seager, I’d say there are a lot of What If’s with this unit.  If I’m being fair, I have to admit that I have a lot of confidence in our offense to get the job done.  We should be – at the VERY least – as good as we were last year (and, “as good as we were last year” was good enough to crack the post-season, had the pitching been up to snuff), but I’ve got a feeling this offense could be great.  Like, Top 3 in the entire American League great.  But, you know, nothing’s a given in this game.

Nelson Cruz is getting up there.  We don’t know how Segura and Valencia will fare in their transition to a new team.  The catcher position is always a cluster.  The outfield has the potential to be REALLY terrible at the plate.  And, you could say I’m less than sold on Dan Vogelbach being better than Adam Lind (who himself was a relative disappointment last year).  As I alluded to above, I have no reason to doubt Seager, as he has either maintained or gotten better every year in the Bigs, but it would be nice for Cano to be our superstar once again.

It’ll be interesting, because Cano is coming off of a career high in home runs with 39.  It’s probably not fair to judge him by those numbers; I highly doubt we’re going to see him crack 40 in 2017.  In that sense, it’s reasonable to expect a dip in his overall slugging percentage (he was about 35 points over his career average last year).  The key will be not having Cano regress TOO much.  It’s always helpful when guys around him are hitting well too, so don’t think I’m putting it all on his shoulders; but we definitely need him leading the way for this offense.  I fully expect the 3-4-5 hitters to be the crux of this offense once again, and that means Cano needs to both set the table and drive guys home.  It would be too much of a black hole to have someone like Cano, making the money he’s making, hitting where he’s hitting in the lineup, if he came in and stunk up the joint.

Fortunately, unless he gets injured, we should still have another All Star year out of our All Star second baseman.  There’s no logical reason to expect anything less.

The Mariners Are Somehow Still Clinging To Life

On September 1st, I officially wrote off the 2016 Seattle Mariners.  They had started off the month of August on fire, to get back into the playoff hunt, then finished the month in a miserable way.  What with football season kicking off, I figured – barring a no-hitter, or some other noteworthy single-game feat – that I wouldn’t be writing about the Mariners again until season’s end.

And yet here we are.  Why are we talking about the Mariners?  Because after a gruelling stretch of baseball – where the Mariners had to play 33 games in 34 days – they finally reached September, and on the 1st had a welcome day off.  With September rolling around, the organization has been able to call some guys up from Tacoma to help spread out the burden.  With guys getting healthy, getting rested, and most importantly, with the pitching coming back around, the Mariners have started out the month 8-3, on the back of a 6-game winning streak (and counting).

We’re now 76-68, we’ve once again leapfrogged Houston by a game, and we’re now just 2.5 games out of the second wild card.  The A.L. West is a lost cause, but the playoffs are back in play!  18 games to go!  Every little bit helps!

My take on this thing is:  it’s just another hot streak before the inevitable downfall.  You might hang your hat on beating the Rangers 3 of 4 games at home last week, but the bulk of this winning streak has come from sweeping the A’s over the weekend.  We have two more against the Angels the next two nights, and they’ve been a poor matchup for us all year (we’re only 9-8 against them, and they’ve proven to be one of the very worst teams in the league this year).  This could all come to a crashing halt with a few more Trout or Pujols homers the next two days.

Or, we could get cut off at the knees by the Astros, who we play 6 more times between now and the end of the year.  Don’t forget about the Blue Jays; they’re currently the top wild card team, and they always seem to ruin our good times late in seasons.  If we make it through all of that, we’ve still got a 3-game stand in Minnesota; sure, they’re the very worst team in all of baseball, but when has that ever stopped us from sucking before?  Hell, the Twins swept us at Safeco in a 3-game series back in May, when we were playing our very BEST baseball!

An optimist would relish the opportunity before us.  We have 9 of our 18 remaining games against teams with losing records.  We can officially elimiate the Astros, and we can gain a lot of ground in the Wild Card standings by taking out the Blue Jays!  While we don’t control our own destiny, remember that the A.L. East – who currently holds three playoff spots, with the Yankees still ahead of us and in contention – has to play one another quite a bit to end the season.  If we just keep winning, and they bash each other around, it’s the perfect opportunity to sneak in there and steal a spot!

But, of course, we’ve been down this road before.  In mid-August, before it all went to shit, we were pretty much right where we are now.  We’re 8 games over .500, we’ve been as high as 10 games over .500, and we’ve never been able to push through that glass ceiling.  Winning streaks are fun, but with this Mariners team, they’ve always proven to be the calm before the storm.  All this shows is that we’re going to have an easy road to finish with a .500 overall record at 81-81.

Can this team stay hot, not just for a week or two, but for an entire month?  They’ve yet to prove they can.  The best stretch was that month of May.  If we pull that as the best version of the 2016 Mariners, and superimpose it onto the September schedule (meaning, essentially, that the Mariners finish 18-11 in the month), that would mean the Mariners will finish 10-8 in the next 18 games.  Which, for this team, feels right.  10-8 is what I’d expect this team to go in any given 18 games.  If that comes to pass, the Mariners will finish with a record of 86-76.  Considering the Blue Jays and Orioles (the two wild card teams, if the season ended today) have 79 and 78 wins respectively, odds are 86 wins won’t be enough.

In other words, for the Mariners to complete this thing, make the playoffs, and end this horrid streak of worthless seasons, they’d have to play better than they ever have this year, for a longer stretch of games.  Just doesn’t seem likely, does it?  I know, in the midst of a 6-game winning streak, anything seems possible.  It doesn’t really feel like the Mariners are ever going to lose again!  But they will, and then they will again, and then it’ll be infectious.  And we’ll resent them for sucking us back in all over again.

Being a sports fan:  does the fun ever START?

The Mariners Are Really Putting Me Through The Wringer

Tasked with the second inexperienced starter in two days, the Seattle Mariners had to put on their big boy pants to beat the Angels last night.  So, it was really a perfect time for the power in the bats to completely disappear.

After digging a hole early, Cody Martin somewhat settled down to go 4.1 innings while giving up only 2 runs.  Given our placement in the standings and how important all of these games are, combined with the fact that the Mariners just took the lead in the top of the 4th to go up 4-2, Scott Servais wasn’t taking any chances.  It was the prudent play.

The bullpen rebounded in a big way over the previous night.  Storen went 1.1 scoreless, Nuno got the final out of the 6th, Caminero made it through a scoreless 7th, and Wilhelmsen did the same in the 8th.  Perfect.  Bring on the Sugar!

Texas Tea ... Sweetener!

Texas Tea … Sweetener!

Who almost fucking blew it.

ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME???

A single and a wild pitch put the leadoff batter in scoring position.  For the most part, like the night prior, the Angels hitters were cheating, going up there looking fastball all the way and swinging accordingly.  That’s what happened with the first batter.  So, Diaz turned to his slider, and almost exclusively his slider, the rest of the way.  I didn’t understand at first, as the next batter whiffed twice at it before laying off the next two balls outside, before putting the final slider into centerfield to make the game 4-3.  After the game, I discovered he’d lost confidence in his fastball command, but either way, it was SCARY for a while there!

Diaz got a strikeout from an overly-aggressive Kole Calhoun, but then Trout singled and advanced to second on the throw as Leonys Martin tried to cut down the runner going to third.  With two runners in scoring position, and only one out in the inning, Diaz intentionally walked Albert Pujols to load ’em up.  From there, he got another strikeout before running into the final batter of the night, who hit a hard ground ball towards the bag that Seager dove on.  He was able to throw out the final runner by a half step to save the game, in what has to be the best defensive play made by a Mariners fielder all year.  Hell, it might be the play of the decade, given the circumstances (but, my memory ain’t what it used to be).

Just an unbelievable sense of relief after that.  We wrap up the 4-game series tonight, with Iwakuma on the mound.  Let’s do this thing!