Much like the night before, this game started off pretty promising. The offense jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Mike Freeman hit his first-ever Major League home run in the second inning, and Taylor Motter – the untamable beast – hit a 2-run homer in the third inning to really set things up nicely. Yovani Gallardo was cruising along, so it should’ve been a cinch for him to go 6 innings and get that quality start. And, from there, surely our finest bullpen arms would be able to put the game away easy peasy!
Except, starting in the fourth inning, Gallardo decided to give the whole lead away. Two runs in the fourth & two more in the fifth made it 5-4 Mariners, but at least Gallardo got to qualify for the win! Because that’s fucking important! Not the fact that he clearly lost his command way back in the fourth inning and probably should’ve been pulled before he could do any more damage!
But, where would that get us? As it was, we pulled him after five, and the bullpen STILL managed to more than give the game away. Scrabble kept it tight in the sixth inning, but Dan Altavilla – ostensibly our best reliever after our closer – wiped away everything by giving up 3 runs in the seventh. After that, I just turned the fucking game off.
I mean, the game was already a collosal bore, dragging on WAY too long thanks to both starters futzing around on the mound all damn day. There was no way the Mariners were going to get that lead back. When the dregs of the bullpen gave up 3 more runs in the eighth, let’s just say I wasn’t surprised.
The obvious point of contention is to look at the offense that didn’t do a God damn thing after the third inning. That isn’t the way to put most teams away, let alone the Astros who are really fucking good and really have our fucking number. But, it’s not like there were tons of opportunities. After the third inning, the Mariners never had more than 1 baserunner in an inning, and all told spread out just three hits.
Quite frankly, this is the type of game I expected to see a lot of this season. Crappy starting pitching followed by really sketchy bullpen pitching. The offense did enough to win on many days, but obviously 5 runs isn’t going to cut it every time out for this pitching staff.
This thing sort of goes deeper though. We’ve had to count on A LOT of young arms this year, less than two weeks in. Altavilla is 24, having just made the jump from AA late last year. Dillon Overton is 25 and has just 9 Major League appearances to his name. Evan Marshall is 26, and has just one full Major League season under his belt. James Pazos is 25 and had just 18 Major League appearances before this season. Chase De Jong is just 23 and made his Major League debut in that extra innings Houston loss. And, hell, our closer, Edwin Diaz is only 23 and is still more or less getting his feet wet as he made the jump from AA last year. So, you know, don’t be shocked if you see these guys come up here and struggle from time to time. Also, don’t be shocked if some or all of them ultimately flame out, because we simply don’t know how they’re going to respond when they get punched in the mouth like they’ve been recently.
Also, not for nothing, but the veterans we’ve sprinkled in around them haven’t exactly been world-beaters. Aside from Scrabble – who’s pitched 2.1 innings in 4 appearances – we’re talking about Nick Vincent (very underwhelming), Evan Scribner (far from ideal), and Casey Fien (who was just outrighted to Tacoma to make room for Evan Marshall on the 25-man roster, and Boog Powell on the 40-man roster).
I’ll say this, the team could REALLY use Tony Zych and Steve Cishek back and healthy.
On the offensive side of things, I can’t help but be dazzled by Taylor Motter, who has 4 doubles and a homer in the last two days. I said it before, kind of joking, but now I’m serious: he NEEDS to be the everyday first baseman as long as he’s hitting like this. Between him and Haniger, they’re in the early running for Biggest Pleasant Surprises (the Dae-ho Lee Award). The longer Motter hits, the more the team is going to have to play him. If he becomes a starter (either at first base or in the outfield), we’re going to be talking about this past offseason for many years to come. Two very big black holes are currently being filled by Motter and Haniger, and if they continue to play well for a full season, it’s going to bode REALLY well for our chances down the stretch.
First thing’s first: start taking care of business in the division.
Today is an off-day, which I’d say the Mariners desperately need. Here’s to hoping this weekend goes better than last weekend.