Is anybody else wiped out by this 4-game series? I mean yeah, the Mariners had to fly from Seattle to Kansas City without an off-day and play in four hard-fought back-and-forth games, down to the bitter end each and every day, in sweltering heat, minus their short stop and regular backup catcher (Murphy, who landed on the IL this week), with just a pesky, free-swinging opponent that didn’t play for one minute like the bottom-feeders they are. But, as fans, I would argue it was even MORE exhausting! Yeah, I said it! I need a cigarette and a nap!
On the one hand, you hate to lose even one of those games against a team like the Royals, who are pretty clearly the second-worst team in the entire MLB, in a tier with only the A’s as the absolute beans of baseball. But, on the other hand, I think I’m just relieved we won the three we did, and didn’t endure an insufferable split. Following our recent scorching hot stretch by blowing two games against the Orioles, and then treading water against KC would’ve been a nightmare, if not totally on brand for the Mariners.
Still … could’ve had the sweep. The M’s were three outs away from one of the most impressive potential comeback victories of the year, with ostensibly their best reliever on the mound starting a clean 9th inning with a 1-run lead. That’s the table that was set on Monday, after an absolutely abysmal first 7 innings of that game, where we were no-hit through most of them. We headed into the top of the eighth nursing our wounds down 5-0, when finally the offense got things going.
With one out, Mike Ford doubled to right and Dylan Moore reached on a HBP. Josh Rojas singled sharply to load the bases for Julio Rodriguez, who mashed a double to left to clear them. After a J-Rod steal of third, Suarez singled him home to make it 5-4, before Raleigh and Canzone struck out to end it.
No matter, with two on and two out in the top of the ninth, Rojas singled to tie the game, and Julio singled to take the lead. What a reckoning! If only …
All you can say is that Brash didn’t have it. He gave up three hits, managed only one out, and even that was a sac fly to tie the game. I’m hard-pressed to say he was even overworked in that one; sure, he pitched the night before against the Orioles, but that was coming off of three days off.
As for Tuesday’s 10-8 victory in ten innings, I don’t even know what to tell you. I missed the whole thing, as full disclosure, I was out in the sweltering heat sweating my way through engagement photos; I hope our photographer can photoshop out my perspiration. I’m kinda glad I didn’t have to sit through the nonsense of this game though.
Not to be out-done by the Royals gagging away a 5-run lead the previous day, the M’s decided it would be fun to somehow send a game that was once 7-0 into extra innings. We scored those 7 runs in the fourth, with a massive deluge of hitting prowess. Suarez homered, France homered, Cal walked and Teoscar homered. Caballero doubled in a run, then Rojas homered him in. I don’t know if there are many things I love more in baseball than when my team fully bats around; it’s always a tremendous amount of fun!
Unfortunately, Emerson Hancock had a bit of a crushing rookie moment. He was more or less cruising through two outs in the fifth inning, but then gave them 5 runs back, including a grand slam that I don’t know how didn’t end his day right then and there. 5 of his 9 hits given up were in that inning; I don’t know if he got tired, or if the Royals just figured him out in their second and third time through the order. I’m not inclined to freak out about the results (again, I wasn’t able to witness the actual stuff), because the Royals kind of did that to all of our starters in this series. Maybe not in such a massive clump like that, but no one was safe.
Certainly not our bullpen! We even went so far as to add on an insurance run in the seventh with another Teoscar RBI (he was 5 for 5 on the day with a homer, a double, and 3 RBI) to make it 8-5, but Andres Munoz – on the heels of back-to-back late-game suck-jobs against the Orioles – gave up a whopping 3 unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth to send this to extras. Luckily, he was bailed out by Ty France with his 2-RBI single, and we won 10-8.
Wednesday’s victory I want to say was less frustrating, but how can I? The Royals went with a de facto bullpen day, gave us 4 runs in the first two innings, with Luis Castillo on the mound; how WASN’T that a cake walk?! Well, with the bullpen so taxed over the last few days, Castillo was forced to get us 7 innings if we wanted to survive this series. That meant pitching more to contact – with less focus on strikeouts – to keep his pitch count down. Quite frankly, he didn’t have his best stuff, and for whatever reason, when he managed to throw a good pitch out of the zone, they were hitting them fair.
Anyway, the offense went into hibernation from the third through the seventh innings. Well, I can’t say that’s totally accurate; we were getting guys on base, but not hitting them in (finishing a disrespectful 4/15 with RISP, with 13 LOB). That gave the Royals enough time to tie the game 4-4 heading into the eighth, when we finally woke up. We didn’t quite get the big hit we needed, but Teoscar hit a medium foul ball to right field and the resultant throw just BARELY missed the sliding Dylan Moore. For good measure, Julio knocked in another run in the ninth to give us some extra cushion (his 4th hit and 2nd RBI of the day), which was absolutely necessary since Brash gave up a solo homer before recording just his third save of the season.
To wrap it all up, we had Kirby going yesterday morning, coming off of his 9 innings of shutout ball. Even HE had trouble with this lineup, ultimately giving them 4 runs in 6 innings of work. Three of those runs came in the sixth inning, taking a 2-1 lead and turning it into a 4-2 deficit. It all started to feel a little hopeless until the eighth, when Julio mashed a 3-run bomb to give us the lead. Cal hit a pinch hit bomb in the top of the ninth, and this time Brash worked a clean bottom half to get his fourth save.
What does this all mean? Well, for starters, I can’t envision a scenario where Brash pitches tonight, since he’s gone 4 games in 5 days, all of them extremely high-leverage. Campbell and Thornton helped mop up Thursday’s in-between later innings, so that should free up the rest of our (better) bullpen members to take the reins.
But, I dunno. That series looked like we played 8 games in 4 days. No rest, no easy ones, constantly battling for nine and sometimes nine-plus innings. Now, we gotta go to Houston to play a team that’s gone 20-11 since the All Star Break? A team that’s still 3.5 games up on us, that’s had our number (especially in their home ball park) for ages now, without our top two starters (Castillo and Kirby). I just can’t envision a scenario where we win this series. We likely won’t even win a game! J.P. France dominated us earlier this year, and Framber Valdez has been a force against us (and everyone in baseball). The only guy we’ve had success against – Hunter Brown – goes up against Emerson Hancock, who I have to imagine is going to struggle mightily in this ballpark, against that offense.
Don’t forget, the Astros have four guys who are slugging well over .500, with Alex Bregman to boot, who always gives us fits.
This is NOT the time you want to play the Astros. That doesn’t even mention how we’re riding a 3-game winning streak; you want to know the best cure for that? The best cure for Mariners fan excitement? Play a series down in Houston and rant and rave while getting swept and it’s not even particularly close. And oh by the way, it’s not even a given that we’ll have J.P. Crawford back yet, as he still needs to play at least one rehab game in Everett.
Weather’s still nice, folks. I’d recommend making other weekend plans. I’ve got a Paul Reiser stand up comedy show in Tacoma on Saturday night, and a trip to Wild Waves on the agenda for Sunday morning. I’ll see y’all there!