The Mariners Dominated The A’s, Barely Got The Sweep

There’s something exciting about a sweep. They don’t come easy, even against the very worst teams. And, I think it’s safe to say, the A’s are indeed one of those very worst teams.

That’s why you kind of have to temper that excitement a little bit. Wake me up when the Mariners do it against a good team, you know? Even a mediocre team would be more impressive than something like this. The A’s are a small handful of very good players away from being a glorified AAA squad.

On top of that, it feels like a fluke that we got the sweep at all. The first two wins were about as impressive as it gets – 8-2 and 9-0 – but this afternoon’s nailbiter was idiotic as all get-out.

Marco Gonzales looked exceptional on Tuesday, going 7 innings, giving up 2 runs (both in his 7th inning of work, after the M’s had amassed a 7-0 lead). That was his eighth quality start on the season, fourth out of his last five games, and sixth out of his last eight. This one was noteworthy for how efficient he was (only 2 strikeouts, but also only 1 walk and 7 hits given up), with 17 ground ball outs (easily a season high). The game was also noteworthy in it being Ken Giles’ first game back in the big leagues since his 2020 injury that required Tommy John surgery. He’ll be brought back slowly to start, but so far he looked pretty good.

We’ll remember this game as the one where we had back-to-back-to-back homers by J-Rod, Winker, and Suarez. France and J-Rod both had 3 hits apiece, Winker had two extra-base hits, Upton had an RBI single, Trammell had a solo homer, and Cal Raleigh got on base every plate apperance.

Wednesday’s game featured 6 shutout innings from George Kirby (5 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts). Winker, Crawford, J-Rod, and Trammell all had multi-hit games. Raleigh and Winker each had homers. And, we got to empty our bench (for the most part) with this game being a laugher by the end of the fifth inning.

Which brings us to this afternoon. Yet another quality start, this time by Robbie Ray (6 innings, 1 run on 4 hits & 2 walks, with 6 strikeouts). The A’s manufactured a run in the bottom of the first with two outs, then there was nothing but zeroes until the ninth inning. The Mariners are on some crazy streak of games where the starters have pitched at least 6 innings while giving up 3 runs or less, it’s really been fun (and would be a lot more fun if we didn’t have so many of these types of games where the offense can’t do a damn thing).

I don’t know how you explain this one. In the top of the ninth, Moore and Winker walked, with a J-Rod pop-out and a Suarez strikeout mixed in. Then, Kevin Padlo walked to load the bases. A wild pitch by the second reliever in the inning pushed home the tying run. Then, a second wild pitch – on ball 4 to Toro – scored the go-ahead run.

And, that was it. 4 walks and 2 wild pitches = 2-1 victory. Diego Castillo got the win, Paul Sewald got the save, bingo, bango, bongo.

Of course, we can’t have anything nice without something disasterous also happening. In this case, Ty France was trying to make a play defensively at first base and the runner ran into him, causing him to possibly hyperextend his elbow. It’s either going to keep him out for a few days or a few months, with probably no in-between.

In other words, if you haven’t already written the season off, then I’d go ahead and get your quill and inkwell ready. It was announced today that Tom Murphy is having season-ending surgery on his shoulder. That’s not the worst news in the world, but if you were counting on help from him sometime this season, think again. With Haniger out for at least another month, and Lewis out for God knows how long, a significant Ty France injury is the last nail in the coffin. We don’t even have a healthy Evan White to throw into the mix! Not that he’d be worth a damn at the plate, or even come CLOSE to making up for the loss of France’s bat. I guess what I’m getting at is: get ready for a lot more Dylan Moore!

I just hope this injury to France doesn’t keep him out for any of the 2023 season. More and more, it’s looking like we’re (at least) another year away from playoff contention. Even that comes into serious doubt if we don’t get France back for a full season next year.

Bryan Mone Isn’t Going Anywhere For A While

The Seahawks extended defensive tackle Bryan Mone. He’s still on whatever minimum deal we’ve got him for in 2022 – earning less than a million bucks – and then it kicks in for the 2023-2024 seasons. 2 years, $12 million. If he’s around for the entirety of the deal, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent for his age 30 season in 2025.

We were already going to have the duo of Mone and Poona Ford back for the 2022 season, but while Mone now has the two additional seasons locked in, Ford will be an unrestricted free agent after this year. Poona has a cap hit just over $10 million, with a base salary of just under $8 million, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens there.

Poona Ford (not to totally shift gears from this post’s main topic) keeps getting incrementally better with every passing season. This also coincides with him getting increased playing time with every passing season. Tack on the fact that he was an undrafted free agent in 2018 and it’s easy to see why he’s such a fan favorite. My hope is that Poona also gets extended, because he’s awesome, and because the defensive tackle spot grows in importance as we shift to more of a 3-4 scheme. Those guys in the middle are critical to opening up pass rushing lanes to our outside linebackers and defensive ends.

Like Poona, Bryan Mone was an undrafted free agent, just a year later in 2019. He’s also gotten better every season, as his role in the defense has grown. You’re looking at our starting defensive tackles in 2021, and they figure to be the same heading into 2022.

They’re also both primarily run-stuffers; they combined for 3.5 sacks in 2021. We’ve always suspected Poona has a higher upside when it comes to getting to the quarterback, but I wouldn’t hold my breath to see those numbers increase drastically. If we’re just talking body size, Mone might be the closest we’ve seen in a while to a traditional nose tackle. He’s got 35 pounds on Poona, which makes it remarkable that he’s been as durable as he’s been.

You always like to see when fan favorites get rewarded and are able to stick around through a second contract. Considering Mone is still on a team-friendly deal in 2022, we’re not breaking the salary cap one bit in creating this extension. Here’s to more good guys sticking around for a while!

The Mariners Are Such A Fucking Bummer

I have no real reason to write about the Mariners for a second consecutive day. They didn’t even play a game last night! But, from a Seattle sports perspective, there isn’t anything worse that could have happened to us in 2022, and so I feel compelled to wallow.

I … don’t have a healthy relationship with sports.

The Kraken were one of the worst teams in all of hockey, and they didn’t even get rewarded with a top 3 draft pick in the lottery. The Husky football team is in full rebuild mode, and figures to be spinning its tires for the foreseeable future. The Husky basketball team is coming off of a somewhat-entertaining season, but also appears to be heading into a rebuild mode sooner rather than later. The Seahawks, obviously, just traded their franchise quarterback and figure to be boringly mediocre (at best) in the upcoming season. And, of course, we haven’t had an NBA team in 14 years.

All we had to sustain us in 2022 were the Mariners. Coming off of a 90-win season, with lots of exciting young prospects and promising young vets, even if a step-back was mathematically likely (for all the reasons we’ve discussed ad nauseam), you still had to figure there’d be enough magic in that old silk hat they found to at least compete for one of the umpteen wild card spots.

And yet, here we are. 10 games under .500, three weeks into June, with 94 fucking games remaining, and no sign of there being any improvement on the horizon.

Sigh.

SIGH.

sigh …

On June 21st a year ago, we were 38-36. Obviously, we were a little ahead of the pace we’re on now because that season started on time. But, even when you factor in where we were 68 games into the 2021 season, we were only 2 games under .500 (33-35), and that just feels like a tremendously huge advantage over where we’re at now (29-39). It’s four games. But, it’s so much more than four games.

This has to do with HOW the Mariners are winning and losing. Last year, the Mariners made a habit out of getting blown out on occasion, while winning the majority of close games, to ultimately be one of the funnest teams in all of baseball. This year, it feels like the opposite, even though that’s not totally true. I will say this, though: the 2021 Mariners were 11-28 in blowouts (games decided by 5+ runs); the 2022 Mariners are 8-7 in said affairs. Our run differential in blowouts is actually +10 this year, while it was -135 in 2021. And, when you figure overall our run differential is -19 on the season, that means in all games decided by 4 runs or fewer, we’re getting crushed. If we’re 8-7 in blowouts, then we’re 21-32 in games decided by 4 or less. And, not for nothing, but when you figure we’re 12-11 in 1-run games, that means in games decided by 2, 3, or 4 runs, we’re 9-21.

Well over half of our games are entirely winnable. And we’re finding ways to lose them more often than not.

Same Old Mariners, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.

I want to sit here and cry out to the heavens, “Why is this happening?!” But, the answer is obvious: it’s the hitting, stupid! And yet, the 2021 Mariners were arguably a worse hitting team. To wit:

  • 2022: .232/.315/.374/.689; 24th in BA, 15th in OBP, 25th in SLG, 21st in OPS
  • 2021: .226/.303/.385/.688; last in BA, 28th in OBP, 26th in SLG, 27th in OPS

You figure the 2021 numbers were over a whole entire season, while the 2022 Mariners are likely to improve if for no other reason than the weather will be warmer going forward (to say nothing of the guys they’re likely to get back from injury later in the year). Also, it’s hard to see the OBP numbers dropping considerably (barring injury), while again the slugging should improve over where it stands today.

When you tack on how vastly superior our starting rotation is this year compared to last, it truly boggles the mind! We had significant innings going to the up-and-down nightmares of Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, and Yusei Kikuchi, not to mention a rookie in Logan Gilbert, and a very down first half from Marco Gonzales. This year, we’ve got Gilbert pitching like a true ace, significant improvement from Gonzales, and significant improvement out of our back-end with Kirby (to say nothing of the potential of a bounce-back from Robbie Ray, who’s starting to mix things up and pitch better of late).

It really boils down to that infuriating fucking bullpen. In 2021, they were a wrecking crew; this year, they’re a disaster zone. All other things (hitting and starting rotation) not just being equal, but improved, and yet here we are.

Of course, if you want to go by Win/Loss record, Marco and Flexen are a combined 10 games under .500, which is the exact number of games the TEAM is under .500, but that’s neither here nor there. That ignores the vast number of inherited runners the bullpen has allowed to score (the same guys, mind you, who were stranding at an impressive rate in 2021).

The thing is, again, this is what we expected. Of everyone, the bullpen was the most likely to regress, because they were playing out of their minds last year. What we needed to happen – what we were banking on, for the 2022 Mariners to be similarly entertaining – was for the other elements to be improved enough to make up the difference. We needed the hitting to put us in a position to afford the bullpen some slip-ups here and there. I think we’re getting as much as could be hoped for out of the rotation, but I suppose if they were playing out of their minds to a similar extent that the 2021 bullpen was playing at, we’d probably be happier than we are now.

But, I’m sticking with the offense narrative, because it’s just a nightmare to watch on a nightly basis.

And yet, when you toggle back and forth, you see a lot of similarities – and even improvements – when you compare the 2022 offense to the 2021 incarnation. Ty France is even better this year! He had a 4.2 WAR in 2021; he’s already at a 3.0 WAR not even halfway through 2022. J.P. Crawford is better: a 3.8 WAR in 2021, already a 2.6 WAR in 2022. Eugenio Suarez is a step up from Kyle Seager (1.6 WAR vs. Kyle’s 2.0 over all of last year). And Julio is more than making up for the loss of Mitch Haniger (1.9 WAR vs. Mitch’s 2.9 over all of last year). Cal Raleigh is improved over where he was a year ago (0.9 WAR vs. -0.5 WAR), as is Kelenic (0.0 WAR vs. -1.7 WAR) by simply not being here.

But, there are three massive black holes who are getting a lion’s share of games, and just giving us NOTHING in return. Adam Frazier is a -0.1 WAR player (he’s been anywhere from a 1.8 WAR to a 4.0 WAR player, save the COVID season). Jesse Winker is a -0.5 WAR player (he was good for a 2.7 WAR season last year). And Abraham Toro is a -0.3 WAR player (he was good for 1.7 WAR last year, including 0.9 WAR in a comparable number of games with the Mariners post-trade). Those three guys all by themselves have added up to lose us a full game, which isn’t easy to do only 68 games into the season. They’re not the only duds, of course. Luis Torrens is -0.4 WAR (he was 1.0 WAR last year, largely as a DH). And the dregs of our roster depth have all been below replacement-level.

This is what happens when guys like Haniger, Tom Murphy, and Kyle Lewis can’t stay healthy. This is what happens when a young stud you were counting on – Jared Kelenic – is so abysmal, he has to be sent to Tacoma to keep from further embarrassing himself.

This is what happens when you put the kind of pressure on an organization – to Win Now – because it’s beyond time to start winning some fucking ballgames and getting back to the playoffs, and you don’t fill out the roster with capable players to step up in times of crisis.

You know what’s bumming me out the most? I’d gladly accept a 29-39 record if it meant Kelenic took a step forward from his promising September last year. I’d be elated with a losing record if Matt Brash was kicking ass in the rotation. I’d be thrilled if Raleigh did more than strike out and hit dingers. I’d be elated if other guys who figure to be part of our future: Winker, Toro, and Suarez, for instance, could be counted on for a better collective batting average. Suarez gets a pass for kind of being who we thought he’d be – especially when Winker and Frazier have shit the bed so thoroughly – but it’s not like he’s an All Star or anything. Maybe if Suarez was hitting a 40+ home run clip, but at this rate he’ll be lucky to see 30 (he’ll probably finish in the mid-to-high 20’s).

There’s just little-to-no hope. Not compared to last year. Last year, we still had Kelenic as a viable option to bust out. We had Toro as a competent super sub type of player. We had Torrens giving us a quality professional at bat throughout the second half of the season. And we had Mitch Haniger playing at a Comeback Player of the Year type of level, with the potential to stick around beyond 2022 as a steady veteran presence in the middle of our lineup.

Now, what do we got? Haniger can’t stick around beyond this year, not if we know what’s good for us. We get two more years of a shitty Winker. We have Kelenic languishing in Tacoma. We have a boom or bust guy in Raleigh.

On the plus side, we’ve got J-Rod, Crawford, and Ty France. And a whole lotta prospects too far down in the minors to make any sort of imprint on the Major League ballclub in the near future. Our holes to fill in 2023 and beyond include second base, and left and right field (that’s if you’re okay with mediocrity at third, catcher, and a revolving Rest Day at DH). That’s not even getting to the pitching staff, which will probably need someone to improve over Flexen, and whatever we end up doing with this fakakta bullpen.

Every year, it’s one step forward and four steps back. Every year, it’s too many holes to fill on a mediocre roster and not enough resources to even come close to making this team good. Ever year, it takes the absolute perfect collection of moves, and that almost never happens in the game of baseball. Every team deals with injuries. Every team deals with acquisitions who are total busts. But, the Mariners thoroughly and completely lack the depth to compensate for such fuck-ups. As a result, we’re given yet another team that fails to make the post-season. We’re told once again to wait until next year. We’re fed a line of horse shit and asked to believe in the process. Just when our hopes are their highest, SURPRISE, the team is fucking shitty once again!

It’s not even July. Which means the weather isn’t even nice around here. Not that the greater Seattle area is pleasant even when the weather IS nice (in those small handful of days between the perma-overcast fall/winter/spring and the summer wildfires that send a blanket of smoke to cover the entire Pacific Northwest). It’s overcrowded, with too much traffic, and chock full of fucking assholes with their heads up their fucking asses. We could always say – even if Seattle was Sports Hell – the rest of it was nice. Not anymore. Everything fucking sucks here now, especially the sports.

Thanks Mariners. I know you tried your best. And that’s what’s so utterly depressing about all of this.

The 2022 Mariners Are A Complete Disaster

This past (long) weekend gave the Mariners every opportunity to make up some ground in a crowded field of wild card hopefuls, against one of the teams in direct competition. A team that’s in our division no less. Indeed, a team that had been in SUCH a freefall that they lost a crazy number of games in a row and fired their highly-touted manager.

The rare five-game series. Thanks to MLB dragging their feet to get the CBA done, necessitating the regular season to start a week late, we apparently have a number of pre-scheduled doubleheaders throughout the year to help make up for lost time. I actually really enjoy doubleheaders, and wish they’d do this more often. But, I also wish they’d give teams more off-days throughout the year as a compromise, and that’s probably not happening anytime soon.

Anyway, we got a glimpse at how the Angels and Mariners match up against one another. Two teams – on paper – that appear to be pretty close to one another. Yet, here we are – four days later – and it’s the Angels who won 4 of 5. Now, we sit and wait, wondering if the Mariners will be the next team to fire their manager after a particularly miserable stretch.

It’s not 14 losses in a row, but this homestand saw the Mariners go 3-8. That’s after the little blip of hope we saw with the M’s winning 4 consecutive series, to ever-so-slightly turn things around. I guess that was just a mirage. I feel like these are the true Mariners we saw over the last 11 games (again, all at home), where we were shut out a whopping 4 fucking times.

I’ll say this: shit-can the hitting coach and do it immediately. What a fucking joke. That’s 10 fucking shutouts in 68 fucking games. 15% of all Mariners outcomes are a shutout loss! That’s asinine! A fucking lamp post would be a better hitting coach!

Of course, that might not be the only head that needs to roll in this situation. I mean, how many times do you need to watch Mike Trout beat you (I count four in this last series alone) before you understand he needs to be pitched around? I don’t care who else they have in that lineup; it’s literally Mike Trout killing us every fucking time! Scott Servais, ultimately, is the best manager we’ve had since Lou Piniella (and, I would argue, Sweet Lou wouldn’t fare NEARLY as well with the guys we’ve had in Servais’ tenure, given his management style), and I don’t believe he should be let go. But, it’s hard to watch him bungle every important Trout at-bat by allowing our pitchers to continuously miss down in the strike zone (where he hits them long and far).

The real culprit is twofold: the players our front office is bringing in, and the development of said players at the minor league level. All of that lands at the feet of Jerry Dipoto. But, of course, he’s got all the power at this point, so I don’t know what you do there. You can’t really keep Servais and punt Dipoto. All you can do is clean house, and hope the next regime doesn’t have their heads up their own asses.

It would be one thing if it looked like the “future core” of this organization looked like it was developing at an appropriate pace. Even the silver lining of a Julio Rodriguez is something I’m going to reserve judgment for until season’s end. I want to see the full year – all the ups and downs – before I call him a raving success. He could go in the tank and then what are we talking about? A good month or two? Isn’t that what we’ve seen from just about every other highly-touted prospect who’s come through here?

This is the worst hitting lineup since 2010, bar none. Nothing about it makes any sense. And nothing I’ve seen from these guys gives me ANY hope for the immediate future. Even if we write off 2022 – as I expected would probably be the case, heading into this season – what do we have to look forward to in 2023 and beyond? One good hitter, maybe (Julio) and one good pitcher (Gilbert). Take a look at the Angels (Trout and Ohtani) to see what that gets you. Julio and Gilbert by themselves aren’t going to do it all.

Jesse Winker gets a lot of shit – and rightly so – for playing so far below his expectations. He was just signed through the remaining two Arbitration years, I believe, heading into this Angels series. What was our reward? 1 hit in 10 at-bats. Nice job, Jerry.

Thankfully, we’re out from under Adam Frazier after this year. He went 3 for 13 against the Angels, all singles. No RBI. Only one of them resulting in a run scored by Frazier.

Abraham Toro is getting WAY too much playing time out of necessity, thanks to injuries. He was the big prize in our deadline deal last year, that at the time was widely praised by all who took notice. He went 2 for 14 against the Angels, both harmless singles.

I could go on and on, but let’s finish with Justin Upton. His career is clearly washed, but we brought him in as a hail mary (again, thanks to injuries). He stunk in Tacoma – and probably didn’t get enough time to acclimate to even AAA-level pitching, to say nothing of what we’ve got in the Majors – but was called up during the series against the Angels because that’s the team that cut him earlier this year. So, why not hopefully capitalize on some revenge factor, right? Well, he went 1 for 10 with a harmless double. Yay. Another .100 hitter to throw onto the pile.

This is Jerry Dipoto’s organization. He’s built it from the ground up. He brought in all the players from outside the organization, he’s responsible for who we’ve drafted, and the buck stops with him when it comes to the minor league coaching that “develops” those guys. Who have we developed? It’s obnoxiously rare that anyone’s hit thanks to our system. Who has flailed? I mean, how much time do you got? Jared Kelenic – a can’t-miss prospect if there ever was one – is currently a complete mess. That’s on Jerry and his team. He’s proven in the past he doesn’t have what it takes (see: his tenure with the underachieving Angels), and he’s proving again that he is who we thought he was.

Ultimately, the more we hear about free agents who don’t want to come here, the more it’s clear that they’re not just rejecting Seattle. They’re specifically rejecting Jerry Dipoto and his Mariners.

The bloom isn’t just off the rose at this point. It’s withered and burned to ash. What will ownership do to rectify things? And, more importantly, how many more decades are we going to have to wait until the Mariners make the playoffs again?

What If The Seahawks Got Jimmy Garoppolo?

I did this before with Baker Mayfield. Recently, people (on 710am and elsewhere) have been talking about Jimmy G becoming available and possibly landing in Seattle. So, I guess we’re doing this now.

My thoughts on the whole Baker thing are pretty much the same as they were back then. I don’t believe he makes us a Super Bowl contender, nor a divisional contender. He might make us a wild card contender, but more likely he only takes us to the very edge of the playoffs, earning us a terrible draft pick next year, when we’ll inevitably have to reload at the quarterback position once again.

In a nutshell, you could transfer all of those same thoughts and lay them at the feet of the Jimmy G argument. Other than the collective moistening of panties around the Pacific Northwest, I don’t know what Jimmy G brings us that Baker Mayfield doesn’t. And, again, I’m not all that high on Baker.

Yet, I don’t know what it is. There’s something about the Jimmy G hypothetical that’s intriguing. Honestly, I think it boils down to QB Winzzz, which is tearing me up inside. There’s something to be said about a guy who’s a proven leader in the locker room. There’s something to be said about a guy who’s played under some of the best coaches and offensive minds in the game today. There’s something to be said about a guy who’s been there before (by that, I mean the playoffs, the conference championship games, and indeed, the Super Bowl itself).

Of course, there’s a reason why his teams never won it all. Many people would say Jimmy G’s teams have won in spite of him. That he’s been on some of the best-constructed overall teams we’ve seen in the last decade. He, for the most part, didn’t lose his teams those games. And sure, in some cases, he went above and beyond. But, by and large, I think you can count on a handful of boneheaded passes per game. Some of them get caught by opposing defenders for interceptions. Hence why the 49ers have given up on him and drafted his replacement last year. Jimmy G won’t cost you a lot of games, but he’s also not going to go out and put you over the top to win it all.

Obviously, he’s still on the 49ers. And, much like the Baker situation, I’m sure the 49ers want something in return for their quarterback commodity. So, there’s that to factor in.

There’s no reason to expect the Seahawks would have to break the bank in terms of salary cap to get one of these guys. As free agents, they’d probably command more than the minimum, but I imagine there would be plenty of incentives built in to protect us. Any trade would probably see the other team assuming a healthy chunk of salary. My concern with a trade is what we give up in return. I don’t think it should be anything above a Day 3 draft pick.

If I had to rank our options for the 2022 season – assuming we don’t just tank for the best possible draft pick, which is always my number one preference in these types of situations – I would put Jimmy G slightly ahead of Baker. I would put both of them miles and miles ahead of Geno Smith. And, considering Drew Lock has been consistently playing behind Geno Smith, that shows me he’s clearly the fourth-best option on this team. Hell, a wildcat quarterback might be a better option than Lock at this point.

But, for Jimmy G to be an effective winner, the track record indicates you need a rock-solid roster around him. Do we have that? I would argue not. We have an offensive line that’s a huge question mark. And, it’s not like Jimmy G is all that athletic or mobile. Seems to me this would be a terrible landing spot for someone who needs a clean pocket to be effective. At least with Baker, he can run around a little bit. The hope – when it comes to Jimmy G – is that the O-Line would gel over the second half of the season, and maybe we go on a little run to close things out.

All that being said, I don’t think Jimmy G is the answer long-term. Age is against him; he’ll be 31 in November. He’s not adept at the deep ball. He’s not super great at protecting the football. Sure, he won’t cost us an arm and a leg, but there’s a reason for that. My question, whenever it comes to the quarterback position, is: Could this guy win us a Super Bowl? Maybe in the absolute perfect situation. But, that ain’t us. Maybe in a year or two – if the defense improves and the young guys ascend – but 2022 feels like a transition year in every sense.

The Mariners Are Undoing What Little Progress They Made

We keep looking for signs that the 2021 Mariners are showing up. The team with the rock-solid bullpen. The team that got just enough (usually clutch) hitting. The team that might lose by a ton every so often, but dominated enough in one-run games to prevail 90 times in a 162-game season.

THAT team would’ve won their series against the Twins. Probably in a 2-1 fashion, but maybe even a sweep.

There was, for instance, the 3-2 loss on Monday. That’s probably a game we would’ve won in 2021, right? Flexen goes 5 innings, gives up the 2 runs, and keeps you in the game. The Twins, meanwhile, run through six relievers and we managed only one run against them (after getting only one run vs. their starter). Real missed opportunity there.

Tuesday’s 5-0 shutout win went more or less according to plan. But, that’s because we had Logan Gilbert on the hill, who pitched six of those shutout innings, giving up 4 hits and a walk, while striking out 6. Suarez and France each had a 2-run homer, and Sam Haggerty had an RBI double to add a little insurance.

But, then there we were on Wednesday with a 5-0 shutout loss. It didn’t have to be that way, of course. Marco Gonzales went 6.2 innings and gave up just the one run (an inherited baserunner that – YOU GUESSED IT – Paul Sewald gagged away. From there, the D-Squad bullpen gave up the other four runs (though, at this point, they’re all the fucking D-squad; they fucking stink).

Now we get four games against the free-falling Angels, who have already fired their manager. If we can’t win 3 out of 4, then what the fuck are we even doing here? I have nothing else to say.

The Mariners Were Punchless Against The Red Sox

I seem to be getting pretty lucky in the timing of my vacations. Every time I leave town for a long weekend, that’s when the Mariners unleash their most inept and frustrating performances.

Last Friday, Marco Gonzales slogged through 4.1 innings, giving up 2 runs, but throwing a massive amount of pitches just to get through the first inning. We might’ve improbably won this game thanks to a mostly-strong performance out of the bullpen, except Andres Munoz continued his run of looking simultaneously dominant and hittable. A guy who throws 100 with veritable ease shouldn’t throw so many fucking MEATBALLS that get destroyed, but here we are. Hence the 5+ ERA. He has an 11.4 K/9 which is good, but he’s giving up an .806 OPS; it’s a bizarre case.

Of course, giving up 4 runs shouldn’t be an insurmountable chore against the Red Sox, but on this night it was. Winker had a 2-run homer in the fifth to tie it up, and Raleigh had an RBI single late to make it close, but that was that.

We salvaged the game on Saturday thanks to a rally in the bottom of the 9th, after Sewald gave up a go-ahead run in the top half of the inning. Yet another glitchy performance from a guy who was absolutely dominant last year (related: Drew Steckenrider was recently DFA’d and then brought back to Tacoma on a minor league deal, to give you an indication of how the 2021 relievers are doing in 2022).

Every so often, you see glimpses of this Mariners offense attempting to break out of their season-long slump. Games like this one, where almost everyone contributed in some positive way. Crawford, Julio, Suarez, and Toro all had multiple hits. But, these games inevitably are the exception and not the rule.

We couldn’t keep the series win train rolling on Sunday though, with a 2-0 dud to close out the series. Robbie Ray was phenomenal – thanks to increased usage of his 2-seam fastball – going 7 shutout innings, giving up just 3 hits and a walk, while striking out 4. The game was all tied up at 0-0 heading into the 8th, when again, Sewald took the brunt of the damage. Of course, by all accounts, the batter hit a crazy pitch off the plate for a 2-run bomb, but that’s the way it’s been going for Sewald this year.

You need to score runs to win ballgames though, and Luis Torrens was all that prevented this one from being a Red Sox no-hitter. One hit. That’s it. So many fucking shit-terrible hitters in this lineup, it’s harkening back to those 2010 Mariners in terms of guys we’re going to look back and exclaim, “THEY were on this team?! Jesus Christ.”

Also, Jarred Kelenic has been striking out and hitting bombs and that’s pretty much it in Tacoma. Kyle Lewis has the world’s stickiest concussion. Mitch Haniger is a walking rehab stint (except, with that ankle, I doubt he’s walking very well). Evan White is a fucking ghost. And there aren’t any other position players close to making the jump to the Major Leagues anytime soon.

Were you wondering how Justin Upton is doing down in AAA, hoping that he might be some sort of savior? How does a slash line of .175/.267/.375 make you feel? That’s across 10 games and 40 at bats, where he’s racked up 17 strikeouts against only 4 extra base hits.

It’s bleak, man. Jesse Winker rightly was benched last night, and hopefully lost his spot atop the lineup. Adam Frazier is just doing nothing. Abraham Toro has one great game out of every ten. Cal Raleigh’s power numbers have improved, while everything else is bad as fuck. Taylor Trammell – after a hot start – has already cooled off considerably (no surprise there). And we’re stuck giving Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty more playing time than they deserve, which is NOT what you want to see.

The Mariners Won In Houston To Cap Off An Impressive Road Trip

I’m spending the long weekend in Maui, so I couldn’t care less about what’s going on with the Mariners right now. That being said, I’m pretty delighted with how this Astros series went, and with how the road trip went as a whole.

The 7-4 victory on Monday was as fun as it gets. Robbie Ray pitched like mediocre dog shit once again (5 innings, 4 runs, 3 earned). But, the offense showed up and matched them run for run through three innings, and even set up Ray for the victory when it was said and done.

Cal Raleigh was the real star in this one, jacking a 3-run home run in the second, then following that up with an RBI single in the fourth.

This game got interesting later on, as the bullpen managed to shut them down (with Penn Murfee getting 5 outs to bridge it to the later innings). Ty France was hit by a pitch in the ninth, damn near leading to a brawl as both teams jawed at one another. Once the dust settled, Julio Rodriguez muscled a 2-run homer to right field to put the game out of reach. Following that, the pitcher threw at Eugenio Suarez’s head, earning himself an ejection and a 4-game suspension.

Tuesday’s 4-1 loss really wasn’t interesting in the slightest. Justin Verlander dominated (7 innings, 1 run, 12 strikeouts) and while Chris Flexen was very good (6.2 innings, 2 runs), the offense just didn’t have it, and the D-squad bullpen couldn’t keep it close.

The rubber match 6-3 victory on Wednesday was entertaining as all get-out. Logan Gilbert was a rock in an otherwise shaky outing for him (6 innings, 3 runs). But the offense did more than enough. Cal Raleigh had a 2-run bomb to tie it in the 4th, Ty France had a solo homer the very same inning to take the lead for good, and we played add-on from there.

The Mariners are still 10 games out of first in the division, and in 4th in the A.L. West overall. But, a 6-3 road trip is nothing to sneeze at. We get an off-day tomorrow, then go up against the Red Sox this weekend. Shrug emoji!

The Mariners Barely Scraped By The Rangers

After the nadir of losing two of three to the Oakland A’s at home (who, surprise surprise, are still in last place and among the very worst teams in all of baseball), the Mariners have won their last three series, all by exactly 2 games to 1. That was impressive when we were talking about the Astros … but it’s less thrilling when you’re talking about the Orioles and Rangers.

To their credit, the Orioles and Rangers are right around the same as the M’s (the Orioles are a couple games worse, the Rangers are a couple games better), but that’s the problem: neither team was supposed to be in our league heading into the season. Yet, here we are. We’ve made our bed and now we’re sleeping in it.

The Mariners have ground to make up, so it’s unsatisfying to have only picked up three games in the last 10 days. We’re still six games under .500, so at this rate the world will implode before the M’s are in any position to make the playoffs.

What’s slightly encouraging, I suppose, is the fact that the Mariners have kind of started looking like the M’s from 2021 a little bit more lately. Each of their last four games have been decided by 1 run, with the good guys winning 75% of ’em. The finale in Baltimore was a 10-inning thriller, and both victories in Arlington were of the come-from-behind variety.

Friday saw another excellent performance out of our REAL ace, Logan Gilbert (not that fraud of a bust in Robbie Ray). He gave up 2 runs (1 earned) in 6 innings, off 5 hits and a walk, with 7 strikeouts. At that point, it was the Eugenio Suarez throwing error that cost Gilbert a chance for the victory. The game was all tied after six innings, but a Rangers solo homer in the seventh put us in a hole that we took to the ninth.

Against who I am assuming is the Rangers’ closer, Suarez made up for his earlier gaffe by pushing a 2-run go-ahead homer to right for a 4-3 lead. From there, we were able to employ Paul Sewald for the traditional save (his third on the season). Suarez had 3 of the 4 runs driven in, with Cal Raleigh adding the other on a solo homer.

Saturday’s game was a boring, hard-luck loss by Marco Gonzales, who gave up just a 3-run homer in his 7 innings of work. He gets a little slack for the “one big inning” because he’s actually gone 7+ innings multiple times this year, plus he has a better track record – in Seattle – of being a successful Major League starting pitcher than Robbie Ray. It was hard-luck because the Mariners’ offense could only muster a 2-run homer by Jesse Winker (both events happened prior to the bottom of the fifth inning).

There just wasn’t a lot of offense in this one, as the M’s only had the four hits (though we did generate five walks). It’s weird seeing the Rangers being this effective at pitching, particularly in their (new) home ballpark. I’m used to the old ballpark, and all the 11-10 outcomes therein.

Sunday’s rubber match was another extra innings banger, with the Mariners overcoming a 3-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning. Suarez almost single-handedly carried the mail in this game, with a whopping 4 RBI. We were down 2-0 early, but in back-to-back innings Suarez tied it on a solo homer and a single (after some nifty baserunning by Julio Rodriguez). Then, after the bullpen tried to gag away the game, Ty France hit a solo homer before Suarez came right back with a 2-RBI double to score J-Rod and J.P. Crawford. Diego Castillo continued the roll he’s been on this road trip (for the win) and Sewald got his fourth save of the year.

George Kirby had a nice outing (even if he didn’t have super-electric stuff) going 6 innings in giving up just the 2 runs. Both were on solo homers, though, which will be something to monitor, I’m sure.

The road trip comes to a close with yet another series against the fucking Astros. If it feels like we’ve played them a ton so far, you’re right. After this series, we’ll have played them 12 times already, and we’re not even 60 games into the season. Thankfully, that means we only have to play them 7 more times in the second half.

Gotta keep the good momentum going here. Somehow, the M’s need to find a way to win 2 of 3 one more time. It’s nice that we’ve started to look like our 2021 selves a little bit more the last few games, but we’re going to need even more of that magic if we want to get out of this hole.

The Mariners Avoided Catastrophe By Defeating The Orioles

I suppose, if the Mariners keep winning series 2-1 for the rest of the year, eventually our record will improve enough to get back into the thick of a playoff race. But, we’ve dug ourselves such a deep hole that these sorts of minor victories feel hopeless. We need sweeps! We need to start winning at a 70% clip! I want to see this thing turn around in a hurry, and struggling against the likes of the Orioles is not going to do anything to soothe this nausea!

This series started off so promising, with a 10-0 rout on Tuesday. George Kirby went 6 shutout innings, giving up 4 hits and walking 1, while striking out 8. And the offense gave him a VERY soft landing, piling up 8 of our 10 runs in the first three innings. Taylor Trammell had 3 hits and 4 RBI, Adam Frazier and Ty France had multi-hit games, and damn near everyone else in the lineup contributed in some small way.

Hopes of a cheap sweep were dashed by Robbie “One Bad Inning” Ray, who could only manage 5 innings while giving up 4 runs. He has only 4 quality starts in 11 games (and he’s supposed to be our Ace). What’s worse is that he has only 1 quality start in his last 7 appearances (the cheapest of all possible quality starts, going exactly 6 innings, giving up 3 runs against the lowly A’s). If you were interested in how many “Felix Quality Starts” he’s racked up so far (to harken back to a TRUE Mariners Ace), it’s exactly one, in his first game of the year, when he went 7 innings and gave up just the 1 run. He has no other games where he’s matched either total (never as many as 7 innings, never as few as 1 run). What a bust!

To be fair, Sergio Romo also had a meltdown from the bullpen, but that’s neither here nor there. J.P. Crawford had a homer and Julio Rodriguez had an RBI. Ty France had 3 hits.

The rubber match looked like it was going our way after the top of the sixth, when we took a 6-3 lead. But, in the bottom half of the inning, Matt Festa gave up a run, while leaving two more runners on. Paul Sewald came in to mop up, and for the second straight appearance he gave up inherited runners, this time to tie it at 6-6. Just another in a long line of shaky bullpen games from this unit that was supposed to carry the team.

The game remained tied through regulation, when Abraham Toro tripled in the ghost runner to take a 7-6 lead. Scott Servais apparently didn’t have any other choice than to squeeze a second inning out of Diego Castillo, who came up huge for the win.

Luis Torrens and Jesse Winker each had 3 hits, J-Rod had 2 hits, and a bunch of other guys came up with offense.

Does anyone get the feeling that Servais doesn’t trust Chris Flexen as far as he can throw him? It seems like he’s always on the shortest of leashes, and clearly it’s not to preserve his arm. I dunno, maybe it is. Of course, it’s not like his performances this season have earned him the kind of faith we might expect.

His contract has a club option for 2023 that doubles from $4 million to $8 million and converts to a player option if he reaches 150 innings pitched this year (or a combo of 300 innings between 2021-2022). He had 179.2 IP last year, and is at 55.1 this year, for a total of 235. You gotta wonder if some shenanigans are at play, especially if the club has already decided he’s not in our long-term plans. Again, though, if he’s going to be as mediocre as we’ve seen for most of this year, do you blame them?