It’s cool to defeat the A’s – it certainly beats the alternative – but at some point the Mariners need to start winning series against competent teams, not just the absolute bottom-feeders. Obviously, the M’s are desperate, so any and all victories are welcome (except moral victories, they can fuck right off), but if nothing else, for our confidence, we needed to take down a team that’s actually decent.
Enter: the Pittsburgh Pirates.
No one’s confusing them with the Astros or Rays. But, they’re a team that has pretty much the same record as the Mariners. They have a good amount of offense, and not the worst pitching in the world, so in my book that’s a worthy challenge to see where we are coming off of that 4-game sweep of the A’s.
Immediately losing 11-6 on Friday sure didn’t do much for my well-being! That’s about as big of an anomaly as you’ll see, though. George Kirby has been the best pitcher on this team – and one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues – so I wouldn’t expect to see him giving up 4 homers in a game again anytime soon. All told, he couldn’t get through five, while giving up 7 runs (all earned) on 9 hits.
If you are looking for a moral victory, it’s the fact that the M’s scored 6 runs, and the way we scored them. The Pirates went up 1-0 in the first; we got a run back in the bottom half, then scored again in the second to take a short-lived 2-1 lead. The Pirates re-tied it in the 4th, then scored a whopping 5 more in the fifth. But, we got 2 more in the bottom half to make it somewhat interesting at 7-4. Unfortunately, our bullpen also didn’t have it, and kept letting them score. It was 10-4 in the bottom of the seventh, when we got two more runs. Every time we got it within reaching distance, they stepped on the gas. It was somewhat encouraging, but overall more of the same. This Mariners team just finds ways to lose. Sometimes, they’re a broken record, sometimes they find ways to surprise us. This time was a definite shocker.
As we do, though, the pitching bounced back. Luis Castillo on Saturday went 6 shutout innings, striking out 10. It was masterful! The bullpen completed the task and we ended up winning 5-0. J.P., Ty, and Julio had 2 hits each, and Suarez had a couple big RBIs.
Then came the Sunday rubber match. All too often, these series have been swung by the rubber match, which often comes down to a single run or a single at bat. In this case, behind a strong start from Marco (5.2 innings, 1 run), we had a 3-1 lead heading into the eighth inning. But, the combo of Topa and Sewald blew it, sending us into extras. This time, however, we managed to keep them off the board, and Suarez won it for us in the bottom of the 10th with a 3-run blast. His power numbers had been severely lacking, so this weekend was a welcome return to form for our third baseman.
All in all, this was a pretty great weekend for our struggling hitters. Suarez, Julio, Ty, and even Teoscar had key hits to lift up the offense. Not a moment too soon, as the Yankees come to town this week. We’re going to need all the bats we can get if we want to make it back-to-back-to-back series victories.