The one thing the Mariners had going for them was their elite lineup compensating for a suspect pitching staff. Regardless of how good a lineup is, there are still going to be games where they just don’t have it – they suffer poor BABIP luck, they can’t hit with RISP, they just get dominated by a great pitcher at the top of his game – and somewhere in there lies the 2 losses to Detroit over the weekend. Lots of balls hit right at guys, and lots of futility with men on base, unable to take advantage of struggling pitchers and knock them out of games. The good thing about an elite Mariners lineup is that these types of games happen less and less often. The bad thing about injuries to that elite Mariners lineup is that these types of games will happen more and more, and the pitching staff simply isn’t good enough to pick up the slack.
Robinson Cano has a broken bone in his hand. He’s going to be out for many weeks as it heals. Robinson Cano is one of our very best hitters. He’s going to be replaced by a sub-replacement level hitter. Saying nothing of the change in our defense, this is a complete disaster. Andrew Romine has improved quite a lot since he spent the bulk of this season batting .000, but he’s a far cry from competent at the plate, and we’re set to see him most every day (that is, when we don’t see AAA call-up Gordon Beckham).
So, if Cano is out for the foreseeable future, and if the pitching stinks, what’s left? Well, the rest of the hitters are going to have to pick up the slack in a big way. I don’t know how much more Gordon, Segura, or Cruz can do. Seager seems to be heating up, which is going to be crucial. Haniger continues to plug away, but doesn’t quite look like he’s making that leap into superstardom like it appeared back in April. Healy has obviously been remarkable since his return from the DL, but he’s going to be up and down all year, so I don’t think we can really depend on him. The obvious sources of improved production reside at catcher and left field. Mike Zunino needs to get his ass over .200 with the batting average, for starters, so a massive hot streak appears to be in order. The other one is Ben Gamel, who’s done absolutely nothing all year since returning from the oblique injury. Who didn’t see that coming a mile away? Nevertheless, it’s been long enough. He’s had his “spring training” period or whatever you want to call it; now it’s time to start returning to the form he showed in the first half of 2017. Figure it the fuck out, Gamel! You’re our only hope!
Regarding the series with the Tigers, I want to say this series was lost when Friday’s game rained out. They predictably split the doubleheader on Saturday (losing the first game in frustrating fashion; busting out with the bats in the second), and they tried their damnedest to keep rallying in the Sunday finale, but could never secure a lead after the third inning, and Juan Nicasio is just the fucking worst.
I don’t want to say it’s all over, but then again I also don’t want to say I ever believed in this team in the first place. I’d say the best case scenario is the Mariners will tread water until Cano comes back, but we’ll have plenty of other injuries to go around by the time that happens. It’s been a pleasant few weeks since we had our offense back to full strength, and now it’s over. Barring many more injuries, the Mariners will still “contend”, but we knew what we were getting into before the season even started. The Mariners are going to Mariners all over themselves and finish around .500 by season’s end. Even with Cano, our fate was always going to be on the outside looking in; now without Cano, figure that fate is more secure.