I dunno, maybe more like delayed the inevitable, but you have to admit that a 2.5-game deficit is much more tenable than a 4.5-game deficit.
Yesterday’s was my favorite type of baseball game. Just a clean, scoreless bout through 11 innings until the Mariners busted through with a 2-spot in the 12th. LOVE me some pitcher’s duels! With the Seattle offense still mired in a ridiculous slump, they needed every bit of Mike Leake’s 8 innings of shutout ball (2 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts); it’s just too bad I had to work and couldn’t see any of it.
I did catch the entirety of the extra innings portion of the game in my car ride home, which was fun, if a little odd. The Seattle to Tacoma slog down I-5 usually takes anywhere from 60-90 minutes depending on the severity of traffic (there’s always a backup in Fife, for instance, but if that backup extends all the way up into Renton and beyond, good fucking luck), so to make it all the way home (in time to catch the 12th inning on TV) was a bit of a miracle.
I mean, these are the A’s! They’ve been winning games in remarkable fashion for a while now. How Khris Davis or Jed Lowrie didn’t walk it off is beyond my mortal comprehension.
Following Leake’s stunning performance – which saw his ERA drop under 4 for the first time since early April – Colome got 4 outs (including Davis to lead off the 10th before being pulled for a lefty), Zach Duke did diddly squat, Nick Vincent got 4 outs, and James Pazos got a critical strikeout of – YOU GUESSED IT – Khris Davis!
If all of that wasn’t amazing enough, the fact that we witnessed a Mike Zunino walk, followed by a Dee Gordon 2-run home run, takes this game right into fantasyland (although, the Gordon homer was certainly a wall scraper in every sense of the phrase). From there, it was Edwin Diaz with a single and 3 strikeouts to get his 47th save, one shy of the Mariners’ single season record (with 40 games left to play).
That wrapped up a 20-games-in-20-days stretch of baseball for the Mariners that saw them go 9-11, which obviously isn’t going to cut it. And while there won’t be a stretch of games that daunting the rest of the way (the most they face in a row is 10 games in 10 days to close out the regular season), the opposition doesn’t get a whole helluva lot easier.
Up next, we’ve got a weekend series against the very good Dodgers, followed by three more at home against the Astros. Then, it’s back on the road against the division-leading Diamondbacks. Looking ahead, we play Oakland 7 more times, the Yankees 3 times, the Angels 4 times, the Astros 3 more times in September, and the Rangers 7 more times (which, yeah, they have a terrible record, but they also ravaged the M’s just a week ago).
If you’re looking for soft landings the rest of the way, we have 4 games against the bottom-feeding Padres and 3 games at home against the hapless Orioles. That’s 7 out of 40 of what you could call push-overs. Against everyone else? The Mariners are going to have to continue to scratch and claw. I can’t say that I have a lot of hope, but maybe they’ll surprise me.