The last time I wrote about the Mariners, they just barely grinded out a series win against the pretty hapless Chicago White Sox. It wasn’t pretty, it was far from impressive, but it felt so very Mariners and what they are in the early going of 2018. They were headed to Cleveland to wrap up a 10-game road trip with a 4-spot against a team that’s been to the playoffs the last two years, including a World Series trip.
And somehow not only won 3 out of 4, but DOMINATED in the final two to put an exclamation point on the month of April.
Paxton took the hill on Thursday and left with a 4-2 lead after 6 innings, but the bullpen – behind the struggling Nick Vincent and the outright shitty Scrabble, alongside the hard-luck Blown Save Guy Dan Altavilla – coughed it up in the 7th. Thankfully, Kyle Seager doubled in the go-ahead run, and Nicasio & Diaz were able to slam the door shut. That’s 11 saves for Diaz in the first month of the season, who is on quite a pace right now.
Corey Kluber got the start on Friday, against Erasmo Ramirez who apparently was rushed back to the Majors off of his injury and doesn’t quite have his usual stuff. Why this happened, I have no idea, but obviously the M’s didn’t stand a chance in this one. Erasmo gave up 6 runs in 5 innings; Kluber almost got the complete game. AND YET, the combo of Scrabble and Wade LeBlanc kept the damage to those 6 runs, while the Mariners were able to chip away. Mitch Haniger hit a 2-run homer in the 7th, and Mike Zunino hit a 3-run homer in the 9th to make it VERY interesting. Unfortunately, one batter later, Ben Gamel lined out to end the threat. Pretty impressive showing, nevertheless. You have to wonder if someone like Ariel Miranda might’ve limited the Indians to fewer runs … maybe we’re talking about the second hard-luck loss for Kluber against the Mariners this season!
On Saturday, it didn’t matter who got the start, as the Mariners blew the Indians away, 12-4. Leake did his job, going 6 innings, giving up 4 runs, and the lesser bullpen guys wrapped this one up in a nice little bow. But, this one was all about the offense. Gordon had 2 hits, including a double, as well as a stolen base and 3 runs scored. Segura had 3 hits, including a homer, as well as 4 RBI and 3 runs scored. Cano had a hit, a run, and 2 RBI. Cruz went 4/5 with a homer and 2 RBI. Seager had a 2-run homer. Even Healy joined in on the action with a 2-run homer of his own! Nothing but mashing, up and down the lineup in this one. It’s too bad I was busy all day, this one would’ve been fun to watch.
On Sunday, again, who started? I have no idea. Marco Gonzales, I guess. 6 innings, 2 runs allowed off of 6 hits and a walk, with 4 strikeouts and only 89 pitches. That’s not a bad little line right there! Back-to-back quality starts for the kid; let’s build on this! Keep your chins up! But, again, the offense just laid them to waste. Dee Gordon 4/5 with a run and an RBI. Segura with a hit, run and RBI. Cano with a 2-run homer. Haniger with a triple, homer, RBI, and 3 runs scored. And good ol’ Ryon Healy – BACK FROM THE DEAD – with 2 more homers, 3 runs and 4 RBI in the 9-hole in the lineup. I wouldn’t expect that to last (I don’t get why we keep putting the slowest players in the 9-hole for Gordon to bat behind), but it is kinda cool to think that the lineup, 1-9, is as stacked as it is, especially if Healy can keep it up.
We had an off-day yesterday, allowing a road-weary team a chance to rest before a quick 6-game homestand. 3 against the A’s, followed by 3 against the Angels this weekend. It looks like I’m going to both the Friday and Saturday games, which means I’ve got a VERY good chance of seeing Shohei Ohtani. I know he’s probably going to destroy us, but I’m going to be screaming my lungs dry just in case we’re able to knock him out. Fingers crossed!
Anyway, I dunno, it’s kinda fun to be a Mariners fan right now. After all the expectations I had for the 2017 team, and how miserably they started in the month of April, it’s nice to see us at 16-11, in second place in the A.L. West (half game ahead of the Angels; 2.5 games behind the Astros), and locked into that 2nd Wild Card spot (half game ahead of the Angels & Blue Jays; 1.5 games behind the Yankees for the 1st Wild Card spot). Unrelated in all of this: it looks like the winner of the A.L. Central gets a free ride into the ALDS, as all the Wild Card contenders right now appear to be in the East & West. Must be nice to play in such a shitty division; if the Mariners were in the Central, we’d be competing for the top record in the American League right now!
As things stand, the Astros are who we thought they were, the Angels are pretty much who I thought they were (going to hang around that Wild Card area all year), the Rangers are much worse than I thought they’d be, and the A’s are a little better than I thought they’d be. If the A’s turn out to be a serious player for the Wild Card, it’s going to make our lives miserable having 3 fucking good teams in same division to play 19 times apiece. So, let’s nip this thing in the bud right now, starting tonight. Sweep these fuckers out of Seattle and send them down a shame spiral for the rest of the year!