Peaks and valleys. Strikes and gutters. Successful open-heart surgeries and dying alone on the floor of your apartment, your outstretched arm inches away from pushing the green phone button you could’ve used to call 911 to rescue you from yet another one of life’s little failures (and your last one at that!). That’s baseball, you know? Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes you split a 4-game series with the last-place Astros.
The 4-game winning streak was not destined to continue, thanks in large part to Taijuan Walker’s sore neck. On Friday, he was limited to two innings before they rightly pulled him before he did any more damage to himself. It sounds like he just slept wrong, and should be fine for his next start, but the series was really lost on this botched start. After an impressive come-from-behind victory on Thursday, the team was unable to overcome an obstacle of this magnitude, try as it might. Guaipe was used an inning too long, as we had to have SOMEONE eat up some innings. But, he gave up 2 runs in the fifth, and there wasn’t any coming back. Montgomery and newcomer Steve Johnson all blew through a bunch of pitches as well to close it out, limiting the bullpen for the following day.
How we got through Saturday with the win is beyond me. Karns very nearly made it through seven innings, but faltered at the end. We proceeded to play mix-and-match with the bullpen the rest of the way, only for Cishek to blow it in the ninth. Luckily for us, we had Robinson Cano, Baseball God, on our side, doing everything in his power to will us to victory. He blasted an opposite-field homer in the tenth and Cishek worked a second inning of relief to notch his second victory of the season.
We needed that one, because the offense just didn’t have it yesterday. Cruz had a day off to rest a sore forearm, and everyone else – save Cano, who hit in our only run with a solo homer – was pretty well shut down by Collin McHugh, Mariner Killer.
Speaking of Cano, though, he’s on a tear for the ages. Tops in the A.L. in homers (12), tops in the A.L. in RBI (33), fifth in the A.L. in OPS (.988), and fourth in the A.L. in WAR (2.1). Over the last 13 games – dating back to the start of the first Houston series near the end of April – Cano is hitting 23/55 (.418/.439/.800/1.239), with 6 homers, 3 doubles, 10 runs scored, and 19 runs batted in. Just a staggering run, when you consider going into that first Houston series, he was hitting 16/73 (.219/.296/.507/.803), in 18 games. His slugging was propped up by some solid power numbers, but for the most part the Mariners weren’t really getting a whole lot out of him offensively.
While the power numbers this early are as impressive as it gets – and probably not likely to continue apace – the other hitting numbers are now up to career norms and current expectations, which is nice to see. This wasn’t anything like the Cano we saw last year, who was hampered by injuries and took the entire first half before he got going. With other hitters in little ruts (though, Seager also looks like he’s coming out of it), it’s nice to see Cano pick up that Superstar slack. We’ll need it if we continue to see Regression Cruz, instead of the vastly more popular 2015 Nelson Cruz.
The Mariners are back home this week, with three against the Rays, and three more against the Angels. We’re still a half game ahead of the Rangers for first place in the West, so let’s continue to do this thing!