Well, a disaster of a homestand comes to an end. On the Glass Is Half Full side of things, you can give the team props for beating the Orioles in the 3-game series. But, the fact of the matter is, the Mariners went 2-5. There’s no sugarcoating that. They were swept by the Angels in a 4-game series and that’s the overwhelming takeaway from this homestand.
But, you know, it’s not like the Angels are really all that great. They’re 1.5 games ahead of the Mariners right now, but I don’t get the sense that they’ll be running away with anything. We play them 6 more times this year, in September, and hopefully by that point we’ll have some more help in the rotation.
As for yesterday’s game, what a wild affair!
I was at work, so I had to listen to most of it on the radio. It started off pretty rough as the Mariners gave up yet ANOTHER leadoff homer in the first. But, Marco Gonzales was able to settle down, as is the case sometimes with these 5th starter types. The M’s were able to tie the game up on a Heredia double, then took the lead the very next inning on Yonder Alonso’s first homer as a Mariner (a 2-run job to take a 3-1 lead).
Then, the fifth inning rolled around, and like clockwork, Marco Gonzales turned back into a pumpkin. Strike Out-Single-Single-Wild Pitch-Triple-Single-Single and that was it. A 3-1 lead turned into a 4-3 deficit and Tony Zych was required to come in and clean up the mess.
Thankfully, he limited the damage to just that with a couple of fielder’s choices, then got through the sixth inning scoreless as well. In the meantime, the Mariners’ offense went right back to work. They re-took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, with four singles and a HBP to score three runs. Then, Leonys Martin led off the sixth with a solo shot to make the game 7-4.
Emilio Pagan had the always-impressive scoreless inning on 3 pitches. Nick Vincent locked down the eighth. And Edwin Diaz was given a nice, cushiony 3-run lead to start the ninth.
Walk-walk-walk. Bases loaded, nobody out. Good grief. Clearly Diaz didn’t have it, and most certainly should’ve been pulled right there, but, I mean, who do you bring in? If David Phelps was still around, maybe we could’ve saved Emilio Pagan or Tony Zych for this situation. But, other than Diaz, we had the two lefties, and I’m not sure Pazos is a guy I would trust with the bases loaded and nobody out with a 3-run lead. Nevertheless, in the moment, I absolutely would’ve pulled Diaz right then and there.
He forced a liner to right field that Leonys Martin made a FABULOUS play on. It still scored the runner from third, but it looked like that was going to be the key to saving Diaz’s bacon. He even looked like he was settling down after that out! Diaz got the next batter to strike out looking, and there we were, in pretty good shape.
But, that shit was FLEETING! Diaz had his fastball running way too far inside, and it ultimately hit the next two batters to score another run and re-load the bases (even though on one of them, it looked like the hit batter swung at strike three on a check swing).
At that point, the team had no choice. It helped that left-handed hitting Chris Davis was up next. Scrabble pumped two 94 mph fastballs low and inside, then froze him with a third fastball right down the middle of the plate (when he was likely anticipating some sort of bendy pitch).
That was it! It was exciting and enraging and relieving all at once. By the time the top of the ninth rolled around I’d made it home, so I got to watch it on TV, and I was pretty sure I was going to have to label myself the Bad Luck Guy for busting up the sure thing.
Anyway, here we are. The final two weeks of August. The Mariners have today and the subsequent three Thursdays off, so it’s tough and it’s not. Yeah, they’re on this huge East Coast swing, but that shouldn’t stop them from emptying out their bullpen whenever they need to salvage a close game.
Obviously, if I had my druthers, I’d have the M’s go 12-0 on this trip. But, if I’m being more realistic, I’d like to see them win these first two series against the Rays and Braves, to go 4-2; then somehow split the next two series against the Yankees and Orioles to go 3-3. If 7-5 can be achieved, I think we should all be fucking ecstatic.
That having been said, could I see 8-4 happen? Only if they sweep the hapless Braves, which I feel should very much be on the table. Go 2-1 against the Rays & Orioles, 3-0 against the Braves, and just try to fucking go 1-2 against the Yankees, and I believe you’ll see the Mariners back in that second Wild Card spot by the time they get back to Seattle.
Only for them to, you know, completely and totally disappoint us once again. Because, that’s what they do. They get our hopes up, and they dash them to bits.
On the flipside, I could also see the Mariners going 4-8 on this trip and completely falling out of the race. Go 1-2 against both the Rays and Orioles, 0-3 against the Yankees, and still probably go 2-1 against the Braves.
The point is, these two weeks should very well make or break the season. I remember being in a similar situation last year, where the Mariners were JUST trying to get to September for reinforcements to join the Big League club, and over the last 11 games of August (starting with that final home game against the Brewers, where Tom Wilhelmsen gave up 4 runs in the ninth to blow a 3-run lead), the M’s went 2-9. They went into that series finale against the Brewers 10 games over .500, and they went into September 1st just 3 games over .500.
Last year’s Mariners also missed the Wild Card by 3 games.
So, yeah, a 2-week period at the end of August absolutely CAN make or break your season. Will that be the case again this season? We’ll find out, starting tomorrow afternoon. Erasmo Ramirez on the hill against the team that just traded him. I expect the additional adrenaline he’ll experience by facing his old team to have absolutely no impact whatsoever.
Then again, when he was on the Rays, he tended to really stick it to the Mariners, so who knows?