Look, I’m no hero. I’m just a man. A man who had an opportunity to go to a Mariners game last night, featuring the Major League debuts of starter Andrew Moore and reliever Max Povse, on a team that finally got back to .500 for the fourth time after falling to 33-37. Do I hold a particular amount of good luck with my presence in the stadium? Is there some magic elixir that permeates this organization when I stuff my face with beer and hot dogs and soft serve ice cream? Like I said, I’m no hero; I’ll leave that conversation for someone else to have.
All I know is I was there! And it was glorious!
It’s been extremely exciting and satifsying to have the full offense healthy and playing together for all of two days, and I hope to see it healthy and playing together for many, many more. Jean Segura is the best leadoff man we’ve had since Ichiro. Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger are quintessential 2-hole hitters, easily interchangeable depending on the handedness of the starter. Cano, Cruz, and Seager are a legitimate, superstar middle of the order. Valencia’s streakiness makes him frustrating, but also makes him dangerous when he’s on a heater. Heredia and Dyson are speedy, disruptive manaces who seem to always do something positive in just about every game. And we all hold out hope that Zunino has turned things around enough to maintain his status as an everyday catcher in this league.
The point is, there really aren’t any free at-bats in that lineup. They’re going to work the count to death, they’re going to get guys on base, and they’re going to get guys home at a good-enough clip to be upper echelon in this league. Even if you’re able to overpower this offense, it’s only temporary. A few innings, or at most a few games, before they’re right back on the trolley.
Last night, this offense was a battering ram. 3 runs in the second to get things going. 2 more runs in the third to keep piling on. An overwhelming 4 runs in the seventh to put the game away. Just one smashing blow after another. There was Gamel with the 2-RBI double off of a lefty pitcher. There was Heredia following that up with an RBI single. Then, a 2-run homer from Cano and a grand slam from Cano to put this one in the refrigerator.
I had a good feeling about Cano in this one, after I wrote yesterday that I thought he was starting to look dialed in at the plate. I predicted three hits for him coming into the game, but I guess I’ll settle for the 2 homers and 6 RBI. I’ll say this: it’s not a moment too soon, with the Astros coming to town this weekend. The Mariners are going to need all the help they can get.
The other big story of the game was Andrew Moore in his first Big League start. We were in the club level, in the section right next to the press box on the first base side, and as such it wasn’t the greatest vantage point for noticing balls and strikes. He seemed to have good-enough velocity, usually parked around 91 mph, but sometimes touching 93. He obviously didn’t walk anyone, which is always big. He seemed to get into a lot of deep counts – with Tigers hitters frequently fouling off pitches – and that looked like it inflated his pitch count a little bit. He gave up a solo homer to Ian Kinsler in the third, and got into a little bit of trouble in the fifth, but he powered through the sixth and even the seventh inning while just giving up those 3 runs on 6 hits, with 4 strikeouts. An outstanding debut for a highly-rated prospect, one of the last of the Jackie Z era.
With a 9-3 lead, Max Povse got to get his debut in as well, starting the eighth inning. He looked like he threw pretty hard, but I didn’t get a sense that there was a ton of movement to his pitches. Again, though, tough vantage to make a definitive call. Anyway, he got two pretty quick outs, then apparently got overwhelmed by the moment: a double, a homer to Miguel Cabrera, a double, and a single ended his night, giving up 3 runs in 2/3 of an inning. Tony Zych cleaned up the mess and Steve Cishek worked the ninth for a quick and painless save (Diaz was unavailable after working 4 straight days); his first save since July 30, 2016, which had to feel nice after all he’s gone through since then.
All in all, a great team win, and a fabulous 4-game series sweep of the Tigers. As noted above, the Mariners are over .500 for the first time all season, at 38-37. They’re still 12.5 games behind the Astros in the A.L. West, but they’re only 1 game behind the Rays for the second Wild Card (behind the Twins, who are a half game back).
Felix comes back today, so we’ll finally learn the fate of Yovani Gallardo. The Astros come to town; we haven’t seen them since the second week in April. We’re a whopping 2-5 against them, and looked like the clearly inferior team in just about every game we played against them, so it would be nice to turn things around here while the going is good. Let’s put some distance between us and .500 the other way, so it’s not as easy to get so buried like we were!