There’s been so many tight games this season, but particularly over the last couple weeks, with the offense missing guys like Dee Gordon, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, and others for various amounts of time. The margin for error has been ridiculously thin, and we’ve seen some repercussions of that in this Rangers series as the bullpen finally cracked a couple times. This team desperately needed a breakout from the offense and to cruise to a comfortable victory. Last night, in a 6-1 win, the Mariners got just that.
On May 3rd, Wade LeBlanc entered the starting rotation for the Seattle Mariners, taking the spot that was briefly held by an injured Erasmo Ramirez. Up until that day, LeBlanc was a long reliever for this club – who has been on the roster since opening day, but only got in 5 games in the month of April due to all the off days and the fact that the Mariners were involved in so many close, winning games. So, he obviously has had to be stretched out a little bit this month (he was also quite under the weather last night, which accounts for his only lasting 5 innings on 84 pitches). But, regardless, LeBlanc has been OUTSTANDING in the month of May (really, all season, but that’s neither here nor there). He’s 1-0 (though the team is 5-1 in his starts) with a 1.72 ERA. 31.1 innings pitched, 6 runs given up, 25 hits, only 6 walks, with 23 strikeouts in those 6 games.
I mean, if it weren’t for Paxton’s 1.67 ERA, his 2 complete games, his no hitter, his 51 strikeouts (against only 9 walks) and 21 hits in 43 innings of work across his 6 games (again, he’s got to be a lock for American League Pitcher of the Month), we’d be talking about the best starter on this team!
Small sample? Go fuck yourself! Wade LeBlanc is magic and I won’t hear anything else!
Pazos, Nicasio, and Chasen Bradford nailed down the final four innings without incident, meaning we were able to save guys like Diaz and Colome for the weekend. Again, just excellent pitching all around yesterday.
On the hitting side of things, Dee Gordon returned with a vengeance, with a leadoff triple and a run scored off of a very shallow pop up to right field. Nelson Cruz banged a 2-run homer and later had a 3rd RBI to keep his momentum going in the right direction. Segura was on base 3 times and scored 3 times; Healy had an RBI single; and Heredia and Span each had 2 hits as the bottom of the lineup looks remarkably improved with those two guys getting regular AB’s. In 4 games with the Mariners so far, Span has 5 hits (including a double) and 3 runs scored. I like Gamel as much as the next guy – and I concede he was looking better at the plate right before this trade went down – but overall he’s been terrible for almost a full year now, and he appears to be much better suited to being a team’s 4th outfielder rather than a starter. How about that? Everyone went into this season thinking it was Heredia that was destined to be a 4th outfielder (and that might very well be his overarching role when it’s all said and done), but right now Heredia looks like a dynamic weapon and a viable starting outfielder in this league if he can keep it up at the plate.
The Mariners ended up 18-11 in the month of May, which follows a 16-11 month of April. We are 1 game behind the Astros in the A.L. West (tied in the loss column), and 4.5 games ahead of the Angels as we currently hold the 2nd Wild Card spot (3 full games behind the Yankees for the 1st Wild Card spot).
As I’ve noted before, the month of June looks a lot tougher. The Rays are hanging around .500 (and we face them 7 times), and we also play the Astros, Angels, Red Sox, and Yankees this month. In fact, we don’t play a team under .500 again until June 25th! That’s 22 consecutive games against teams that are either IN the playoffs (if the season ended today) or fighting tooth and nail for the Wild Card spot (in other words, our direct opponents for possible post-season play). On top of that, out of 28 games, only 12 are at home this month. We make trips to Houston, Tampa (then back home), then we go out to New York, Boston, and Baltimore (before returning home again). Make no mistake, everything about this month spells B-R-U-T-A-L.
The good news? If we can avoid getaway-day rainouts that need to be made up at a later date, once we return from our East Coast road trip in Baltimore, We’ll never have to go any further east than the state of Texas the rest of the season. The entire month of July, for instance, has us only going to Anaheim and Colorado! In fact, all of our road trips after the month of June are against the A.L. West or the N.L. West.
Just got to get through this month. If you offered it to me on a silver platter right now, I would absolutely accept a .500 record for the month of June. If you gave me 14-14, SIGN ME UP!