Or, at least, so damn lucky?
The last time I wrote about the Mariners, it was to comment on the big trade for Colome and Span. The time immediately before that was to comment on the loss to the A’s. It sort of felt like the beginning of maybe a little down period for the M’s – because, with all the injuries and whatnot, how could they possibly continue to keep winning? And yet, in spite of my obvious negativity, the Mariners bucked the odds and went right back to winning!
They beat the Twins in all three games over the weekend – some sweet revenge over that stupid make-up game – then they took the first game over the Rangers. Three 1-run victories and a 2-run victory; I’m telling you, either we’re witnessing the hottest stretch of the season for this pitching staff, or I’m going to have to admit that they’re a lot better than I originally thought!
On Friday, we were all treated to a James Paxton Special: 7 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 0 walks, 11 strikeouts. Nick Vincent held down the 8th and Edwin Diaz got his 18th save of the season, as the Mariners won 2-1. It was a game where the offense was really held in check, but Cruz and Haniger were able to knock home a couple guys from second base.
On Saturday, we were all treated to a Wade LeBlanc Special: 6 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts in 77 pitches. There was a little hiccup with the bullpen – after the offense was able to overcome a 2-run deficit with a 3-run bottom of the 6th on homers from Segura and Cruz – as Vincent and Pazos combined to allow the tying run. However, the rest of those guys got us through the 12th (anchored by Juan Nicasio’s scoreless 2 innings with 5 strikeouts), when Mike Zunino – with 2 outs – jacked a homer to left to walk it off.
On Sunday, we were all treated to a Mike Leake Special: 8 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts in 86 pitches. Newcomer Alex Colome got his first save in a Mariners uniform (allowing the team to rest Edwin Diaz) as we won 3-1. The M’s were down 1-0 early, then Seager tied it with a solo homer in the 4th, followed by Healy knocking in the winning runs in the 8th with a double. Combined, both pitchers threw less than 100 pitches, which is kind of insane in this day and age.
On Monday, we were all treated to a Marco Gonzales Special: 6.2 innings, 1 run (0 earned), 4 hits, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts. Pazos finished up the 7th on 2 pitches, Colome embraced his new 8th inning role without trouble, and Diaz got his 19th save. Offensively, Cruz and Seager hit in a couple guys from second and that’s all we needed as the Mariners won 2-1.
I haven’t been tracking it – mostly because I wrote them off in the off-season – but the pitching staff has really been terrific. I vaguely remember them struggling in the early going, but right now the Mariners are 5th in the American League in ERA (behind the obvious suspects: Houston, Boston, Anaheim and New York). Yeah, our run differential is pretty crappy, which points to a number of issues with this team; but without this pitching staff, we’d be looking at A LOT more losses. If they pitched like I thought they’d pitch heading into the season, we might be talking about a 9-game or a 10-game losing streak right now. Instead, the Mariners are 33-20, 1 game behind the Astros (tied in the loss column), and 1.5 games behind the Yankees for the top Wild Card spot. Yes, that’s correct, we’re closer to the division lead than we are the top Wild Card spot! How insane is that?
Three more games against the lowly Rangers to close out the month, then a weekend series against the Rays to close out this 10-game homestand. Very important to keep this ball rolling, because June looks insanely difficult. The 7 games against the Rays, 4 games against the Orioles on the road, and 2 games against the Royals are the easiest games of the bunch. But, on the flipside, we face the Astros twice, the Red Sox 7 times, the Yankees 3 times, and the Angels 3 times. So, we’ll get a good look at how good these Mariners really are.