The Mariners Have Played Slightly Better Lately

Still not good enough to entirely draw my interest. But, I’m cautiously encouraged. It’s not like I haven’t seen flashes of competence before, so I’m not jumping into this pool until I see a more consistent stretch of dominance.

The good news is that the Mariners have won back-to-back series against quality baseball teams in the Rays and Giants. The bad news is that in our two losses over that span, it showcased everything that’s still wrong with this team.

Last Friday, the Mariners lost 15-4 in the series opener against the Rays. We’ve been seeing these types of defeats more and more in the last month. This one might’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back, though. We were up 4-0 heading into the top of the fourth. The game was tied 4-4 heading into the top of the eighth. Bryce Miller had blister issues on his throwing hand, and the bullpen obviously wasn’t super sharp from there. We know this because the Rays scored a whopping 8 runs in the 8th, then another 3 runs in the 9th off of Mike Ford to give the game its final score. 15 unanswered runs led to an avalanche of boos from the home crowd. Well deserved boos.

The Mariners managed to bounce back the next day, winning 8-3 behind another strong start by George Kirby (7 innings, 2 runs). J.P. and Julio each had 3 hits, Teoscar and Kelenic each had 2 hits, and a smattering of other guys chipped in. A real team effort in this one, too few and far between if you ask me.

We managed to sack up in the finale, coming back to win 7-6. It looked extremely ugly to start, as (at that time) our lone All Star – Luis Castillo – gave up 6 runs in the first three innings (4 earned), and we were down 6-1 heading into the bottom of the third. But, the M’s came roaring back with a 4-spot in that frame to make it 6-5. Tom Murphy tied it with a solo homer in the sixth, and we scored the go-ahead run in the seventh off of a hit by pitch. Everyone in the lineup, 1-9, contributed in some way. Castillo settled down to get through six innings, and the bullpen was nails from there.

The good times kept on rolling in San Francisco with a 6-5 victory on Monday. Bryan Woo had his best start of the year so far (6 innings, 2 runs), but things were deadlocked at 2-2 until the 9th inning, when all hell broke loose. The M’s rallied for four runs to seemingly run away with things. Except, Paul Sewald, in the bottom half, gave up a 3-run bomb to tighten it up again. Luckily, the offense nabbed that insurance run. Great games by Julio (3 RBI), Teoscar (2 for 5 with a run and RBI), Eugenio (2 for 4), Ford (2 for 3 with a walk), and even Kolten Wong (a hit and 2 runs scored).

The 4th of July had all the fireworks coming from Logan Gilbert, who pitched his first-ever Major League complete game shutout. It was a breathtaking experience, where he only gave up 5 hits and 0 walks, while striking out 7. The offense put up 6 runs thanks to Mike Ford’s 4-hit day (including 2 doubles, a homer, 2 runs scored, and an RBI), and multi-hit days from J.P., Julio, and even A.J. Pollock (who also got in on the action with a homer). What we’ve been seeing from Ford so far is nothing short of amazing, and I really hope he’s able to keep it up.

Unfortunately, the winning streak stopped at four games (tied for a season high), thanks to a 2-0 loss yesterday. I guess a sweep was just too much to ask. We needed a Tommy Milone spot start thanks to Miller’s blister; he gutted out 4.1 innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits and 4 walks. The consummate Good Enough start from a Quad-A pitcher, who gets in and out of trouble all day long. The bullpen shut it down from there, but it didn’t matter, as we were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

For a day there towards the end, the Mariners were back to .500; now, we’ll have to settle for 42-43. It’s a 4-game set down in Houston, and then it’s the All Star Break. I can virtually guarantee I will watch none of this Astros series, but you never know. I can be fickle, especially if the M’s look to be nursing a lead.

I should point out that George Kirby was named as an alternate to the All Star Game (very much deserved), as was Julio thanks to some drop-outs. I don’t know if Julio was as much deserved of this honor, but he was already going to be there for the Home Run Derby, he’s still one of the biggest young stars in the game today, and Seattle is the host city. A little padding of our All Star representation never hurt nobody. Softens the blow of what could’ve been quite the embarrassing situation of potentially only having the one guy in a Mariners uniform.

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