That’s right, after being 11 games up back in June, we’re now tied with the A’s for the second wild card spot. The A’s have won a million games in a row and the Mariners have lost every single day since I can remember. Everything sucks and now Toronto and their shitty fans invade our stadium for the next four days.
That series with the Astros started off promising enough. James Paxton out-duelled Gerrit Cole to take the first game 2-0. It was all down hill from there, though. We got a very Mike Leake-y start the next day (6 innings, 3 runs) and the offense couldn’t do shit. The bullpen gave up a 2-run ding dong late, and we lost 5-2. That left us with an opportunity to still win the series, with folk legend Wade LeBlanc on the mound. Bad time for him to have his worst start of the season, though, as he was knocked out after 4.1 innings, having given up 7 runs in the process. He left meatballs out over the plate all day and was getting crushed accordingly. The offense had few opportunities to make a comeback, and couldn’t take advantage of any of them as we lost 8-3.
So, that’s that, then. The A’s are here to stay, and the Mariners are pretty much done.
This is just the worst feeling, you guys. We’re talking about a team with the longest playoff drought in all of the major North American professional sports. A team that – FINALLY – 17 years later, got off to just a torrid start. Heading into the 4th of July holiday, the Mariners were 55-31. They were locked into that 2nd wild card spot with no enemies in sight. We were talking about maybe even challenging the Astros for the division! Sure, it was a pipe dream, but those were simpler times! We could afford to daydream, because THIS was the year! We were finally going to break the curse!
We’re also talking about a team, mind you, with a very narrow window for contention. The farm system is garbage. Some of our very best players are getting up there in age (and some of them are over the hill already). There’s a nice core of guys in Haniger, Segura, Diaz, Gonzales, and Gordon, but by and large this team is made up of guys no one else wanted. We’re not laden with young, superstar talent like the Astros or Yankees or Red Sox or Athletics. The Mariners are a fragile ecosystem that needs everything to go right just to eke out a victory; but if even one little thing goes wrong, it all implodes and we lose by a ton!
This wasn’t a team built for the long haul; it’s a team built for 2018 and that’s it. We’re 18 games over .500 with a -9 run differential; it’s not a sustainable model and it never has been! This is a once in a generation type of team that’s been coasting on the very best luck the league has seen in years. You could make carbon copies of every single player on the roster and try running it all back again in 2019 and you know what you’ll get? A Mariners team desperately trying to stay around .500. We were always going to be screwed in 2019 and beyond; at some point, it’s going to crumble, and with no help on the horizon in the form of a development system, the Mariners will crater and be among the very worst teams in all of baseball. That time is coming, and it’s coming very soon.
Which is what made 2018 so important. If we don’t break this playoff drought this year, it might not happen for another decade or more. That’s why this sucks as much as it does. Because it now feels inevitable that the A’s are going to keep on winning, and the Mariners are going to play .500 ball the rest of the way.
Sure, the hitting has been abysmal, and even with the return of Cano, how much better can we reasonably expect it to get? Jean Segura is starting to slow down from his unsustainably hot pace. Same with Dee Gordon. Ben Gamel had been one of the team’s hottest hitters of late, and they just sent him to Tacoma for no fucking reason, just so we could keep the black hole that is Guillermo Heredia on the roster. Nelson Cruz still has plenty of pop in his bat, but his average is dipping down into the .260s (showing his age, and the need for this team to probably move on from him after this season is over, if for no other reason than to move Cano to DH next year). Haniger’s been slipping, Healy is an 0’fer on most nights, we’re mired in Seager’s very worst year as a Major Leaguer, and Mike Zunino STILL can’t manage to bust through the Mendoza Line!
That’s not even factoring in how we have absolutely no business having any faith in any starting pitcher not named James Paxton or Marco Gonzales. LeBlanc has been ridiculously good, but that can’t last. Leake is who he is, and Felix looks like he’s just about done. And you think Erasmo Ramirez is going to save this rotation? Please! Also, I love Edwin Diaz as much as the next one, but a string of blown saves is coming, mark my words. No closer is this good for this long without at least a little hiccup along the way. We won’t be able to blame using him in tie games for his struggles, is all I’m saying.
It’s all darkness and evil thoughts. Thank God football season is starting back up again.