David Price vs. Wade LeBlanc? On the heels of two blown saves in a row? With someone by the name of Guillermo Heredia leading off and Luis Sardinas filling in for Ketel Marte? Against the best hitting team in the league in the Boston Red Sox? That game had LOSS written all over it, in giant capital letters. So of course the Mariners won last night!
Of course, you figure with those circumstances, any plausible victory for the Mariners would have to come against the bullpen, involving some late-inning heroics. But, you know, you’ve still got to get to those late innings within striking distance! And here’s where I come back to dish out a little bit of praise for our starter last night. LeBlanc is absolutely nothing special. But, he’s had 5 starts now, and 4 of them have been Quality Starts. He was scraping the bottom of the barrel for a quality start last night, with 3 runs in 6 innings, but that’s pretty much the baseball definition of “keeping them in the ballgame.” THIS is what, I think, we all expected out of Wade Miley when we initially brought him in here. And this is why I don’t give a hairy-ass fuck about dealing Miley now for peanuts on the dollar. Wade Mileys are dimes a fucking dozen! Wade LeBlanc is one. Ariel Miranda – getting the start tomorrow – is likely another.
On the other end of the spectrum, Edwin Diaz got the first save of his budding career. Now that we’ve all taken a deep sigh of relief, we can pull back from the edge of the cliff and try to enjoy this team again. Of course, he remains the lone reliever we can count upon to do his fucking job, but let us pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Look over here! Diaz is closing! Everything is awesome!
In between, we had the aforementioned late-game heroics. Another homer by Zunino – his fourth – brings his slugging percentage up to a whopping .719. He’s not exactly a brand new hitter or anything, but this is as promising as it gets, compared to where he was last year. Then, three consecutive singles out of the bottom of our order knocked Price out of the game with a 2-run lead with 2 on and nobody out. Seth Smith had a pinch hit strikeout, bringing up Robinson Cano against the normally on-point Fernando Abad. Cano tore into his offering to give us a 5-4 lead, and the rest was history.
At issue now is the fact that the Mariners have been playing exactly .500 ball since the last week of June, with a record of 15-15 over their last 30 games. It should go without saying that this is NOT the way to get back in the Wild Card race. There are 57 games left in the season; at this pace, you figure the Mariners will win 28 more times, which would leave us with a year-end record of 81-81.
To have a realistic shot, 90 wins is the benchmark. To get there, in 57 more games, the Mariners would have to go 37-20, or winning approximately 65% of our games from here on out. It sounds daunting, but it’s absolutely do-able. As I talked about Monday, though, the time is now. The Mariners need to keep winning games they have no business winning, and hold onto those leads they’re supposed to keep. Go get ’em.