All in all, I’d say that went pretty well. We lost a close one in that good Felix game; we won one in exciting, high-scoring, come-from-behind fashion; we won a 1-0 nailbiter in that outstanding Wade LeBlanc game; and we got torched on get-away day.
That game on Friday was as exciting as it gets. I think we all figured the best left-handed starter we’d see this weekend was going to be starting that night, but James Paxton didn’t have his usual stuff. Also the defense – with its 3 errors that very easily could’ve been 4 or 5 – didn’t have its usual stuff either. In an absolute disaster of a third inning, Paxton was only able to get one guy out before being pulled, having given up 6 runs (somehow 5 of which were earned). Chasen Bradford limited the damage to just that, but the M’s found themselves – once with a 3-run lead – down 6-3.
That’s when recently recalled Rob Whalen entered the game to soak up some innings. (oh shit, if we’d been playing Tampa, I could’ve said “soak up some Rays”! But we’re all done playing the Rays this season! I’ll have to save that gem for next year …). Rob Whalen ended up going 4 scoreless innings to allow the M’s to chip away at that deficit. Mitch Haniger hit one in in the fifth; Mike Zunino homered in the seventh. That set the stage for the bottom of the eighth, down 6-5, runners on first and second with one out, and Denard Span pinch hitting for Guillermo Heredia. He jerked a ball down the right field line for a 2-run double, as the Red Sox outfielder was playing WAY over in right-center for some reason. With a 7-6 lead, Edwin Diaz came in to shut them down for his 26th save of the season.
If you thought THAT was unexpected, just wait until you get a load of Saturday’s game! Wade LeBlanc vs. some knuckleballer, on the FOX game of the week! I have to imagine they were a little underwhelmed with the matchup coming into it, but hot damn were they treated to a pitcher’s duel to end all pitcher’s duels!
To his credit, Steven Wright was pretty outstanding. The knuckleballer went 7 innings, giving up just 1 run on 5 hits & 2 walks with 4 strikeouts. As it turns out, though, Wade LeBlanc was remarkably better. He went 7.2 innings of shutout ball, giving up just 2 hits while striking out 9! My dad asked me what we could expect of LeBlanc before the game, and I said I’d be ecstatic if he gave up just a couple runs in 5 innings, but he really blew my projection out of the water! It was as dominant a performance as I’ve seen this year, as he allowed a leadoff hit to start the game, and then nothing until – with two outs in the eighth – he allowed a single to end his night as he faced the minimum up to that point. Honestly, that first hit he allowed was pretty bogus – as the ump didn’t have his strike zone quite figured out yet – and should’ve been a strikeout. So, we were THAT CLOSE to perfection, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
The one run the Mariners scored was back in third on a single by Cruz, and somehow it held up. Colome got out of the eighth unscathed, and Diaz worked the ninth for his 27th save of the season. Easy peasy.
Sunday, I dunno, it got away from us. Leake didn’t really have it, giving up a 5-spot in the third. But, he managed to keep it to just that through six innings, so at least he saved the bullpen a little bit. I think we were all under the impression – as the game went on – that the Mariners would mount a comeback eventually, but it was sort of the opposite. The Red Sox played add-on, and the M’s really let a lot of opportunities get by them, going 3 for 12 with RISP. There was, however, another 2.1 innings from Elias, who only gave up 1 run, so that trade is looking better and better.
Hard to be too upset by a 50/50 split, though. If you offered that to me before the series started, I would’ve taken it in a heartbeat. Now, the Mariners go on the road for a huge one: the final east coast road trip of the (regular) season. The downside to the weekend is that the Astros just completed a 10-0 road trip to take a 1.5 game lead in the division, which is just insane. In case you thought the division was in the bag or something (unlikely, I know), it’s not. We are a full 8 games up on the Angels though, so fuck them.
Thankfully, there’s an off-day today before the festivities start. One last big test before we coast to the finish line. Up first: the Yankees. Our likely rivals in that 1-game Wild Card. My stomach is all in knots just thinking about it.