Mariners Murder Mets; Paxton Goes 6-0 In July

One more time, the Seattle Mariners have scratched and clawed their way back to a .500 record, on the back of a 9-1 victory over the Mets.  That win gave them a 5-5 record on the homestand, so it’s kinda like the last 10 games didn’t even happen!

James Paxton looked phenomenal as usual, going 6 shutout innings, giving up 6 hits, 0 walks, and striking out 8.  He gave way to Emilio Pagan, who had another 2 shutout innings to throw onto his pile, as he starts to get more and more higher leverage situations to deal with.  And James Pazos closed it out by blowing the shutout in the ninth, looking no closer to being his usual awesome self, which is pretty concerning.

The real stars of this one were the hitters.  Nelson Cruz hit a mammoth 3-run home run.  Leonys Martin – in his first start since April 20th – had two hits, including a homer off of the Hit It Here Cafe.  I can’t tell you how fantastic it was to see that.  He’s been tearing it up in Tacoma, so it’s nice to have that sort of depth when a Mitch Haniger goes down.  Assuming Haniger is only gone for two weeks or so, I hope the team figures out a way to keep Martin on the roster through the month of August, until rosters can be expanded and I don’t have to worry about losing anyone of import.  It’s nice to be able to throw out three left-handed hitters in the outfield when we want to, if nothing else.

Also of note, Ben Gamel had 2 hits, 2 runs and an RBI.  Cano had 2 hits, a run and an RBI.  Seager had 2 hits, including a double.  Dyson, Segura and Danny Espinosa (who pinch hit for Segura late in the game) all chipped in with hits.  And Mike Zunino had a couple walks and a run scored.  Even Danny Valencia had a sac fly; literally everyone contributed SOMETHING to the cause.

Getting back to Paxton, he becomes the first Mariners pitcher to ever go 6-0 in a single month, raising his record from 5-3 to 11-3, which puts him tied for third in the American League for most wins (Chris Sale and Jason Vargas of all people are tied for first with 13 wins).  Also, among qualified pitchers, Paxton’s 2.68 ERA is second only to Sale’s 2.37.  Of course, Paxton is 3 starts and about 41 innings shy of Sale’s totals, what with landing on the DL for a month, but that’s still some good company.

Anyway, here we are.  The August death march unofficially starts today with a game down in Texas.  This is where we find out if the Mariners have what it takes or not.  I’d wager probably not.

Of Course The Mariners Lost To Chris Sale

Every time we run into a game like this – usually it’s right when the Mariners have clawed their way back to .500 – I always make the comment about how I wish I was at a sportsbook, or about how I wish sports gambling were legal nationwide, because I’d make a fucking KILLING just betting against the Seattle Mariners.

Cooler thoughts prevail, and ultimately keep me from picking up everything and moving to Reno, because I know in the long run I’d make more stupid decisions than smart ones.  But, if I had the will power to ONLY bet on the sure things, I’d be a plenty rich guy.

The Mariners were never going to score more than a run, MAYBE two, against Chris Sale yesterday, and that was before we found out that Robinson Cano was getting the day off to rest.  That was before Mike Zunino got the day off after an extra innings night game.  That was before we brought in Danny Espinosa to be our utility infielder, who sure looks like an offensive downgrade to Motter (saying nothing of his base running or defensive abilities).

With that in mind, factoring in Andrew Moore was starting for the Mariners, there was no way he was holding the Red Sox to anything less than 4-5 runs.  So, do the math.  You could argue both bullpens were pretty tired after Tuesday night’s 13-inning affair, but you could also argue that the closer and late-inning relievers for the Red Sox are better and more consistent than that of the Mariners.

As such, it was ABSOLUTELY no surprise that Chris Sale went 7 shutout innings, giving up 3 hits & 1 walk, while striking out 11.  It was ABSOLUTELY no surprise that Andrew Moore gave up 4 runs in 6.2 innings (maybe a little surprising he was able to get into the 7th after giving up all those runs in the first four innings).  And, it was absolutely no surprise that the Mariners lost this one 4-0.  If I had any opportunity to put money on this game, I would’ve gladly put down everything in my bank account.

Off day today before a weekend home series against the Mets.  Kinda odd that everyone is treating this Mets series like we’re going up against the worst team in the National League; their record is VERY close to that of the Mariners!  I know the N.L. is inferior in general, but it’s not like the Mariners are some juggernaut.  It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see the M’s lay an egg this weekend and blow this series!

Now, I wouldn’t recommend it.  Because August Is Coming.  We’ve been staring at this month in our pocket calendars ever since we GOT our pocket calendars!  August actually kicks off on July 31st in Texas.  From that point, through August 30th, the Mariners play 21 of 28 games on the road.  A 9-game trip that starts in Texas, rolls through Kansas City, and concludes in Oakland (with 1 off-day in between KC and OAK).  Then, after a week of games at home, the Mariners have the final 3 Thursdays off for the rest of the month.  But, we’re looking at a 2-week, 12-game trip starting in Tampa, then going through Atlanta and New York (Yankees) before concluding in Baltimore.  It’s our final east coast trip of the season, and it’s BRUTAL.

So, you know, maybe take advantage of these home games against the Mets this weekend.  Maybe try to at least win 2 of 3 to not completely embarrass yourselves.  Or don’t.  Or just lose.  Either way.  This season is a lost cause anyway.

Time To Lose Today: Yep, The Mariners Are Back To .500

Is that any way to talk about a team that just beat the Red Sox in 13 innings to win the series with one game to go?  Yes, yes it very much is.

What a game, huh?  It ended up a lot different than I thought it would when I went to bed after the second inning.  Heredia hit his 3-run bomb, Felix was doing okay, seemed like maybe this one would come easy to the Mariners.  Then, it looks like the King ran into a bit of a buzzsaw in the sixth inning, but the teeth of the Mariners’ bullpen limited the damage to 4 runs through 12 innings (Mike Zunino hit a home run somewhere in there to tie the game back up and take Felix off the hook).

In the top of the 13th, Zych – in his second inning of work – gave up a leadoff single who eventually advanced (with 2 outs) to second base on a wild pitch, before scoring the go-ahead run on a single to left.  He managed to get out of it, but I suppose it was looking pretty grim at that point.  One might’ve even felt appreciative for not staying up until all hours of the night.

Besides that, I’m pretty sure there was just one man left in the bullpen by that point, Emilio Pagan, who has been on a tear of late, but has also had to be used quite a bit.

So, 13 innings felt about right.  But, then something magical happened.  Seager struck out, Haniger walked (at least his plate discipline doesn’t slump), and Gamel hit into a fielder’s choice.  Two outs, runner on first, so what, right?  A Heredia single to right moved Gamel to third base, who would go on to score on a wild pitch to tie the game.  The key to that whole thing was that Heredia advanced two bases on the wild pitch, otherwise who knows?  Maybe they’d still be playing right now!  Anyway, Zunino walked, and Jean Segura hit a seeing-eye single up the middle of the infield and EASILY beat the throw to first base for the game-winner.  Bingo bango bongo!

I don’t know what you say about a game like this.  Probably don’t win it without Heredia, but I have to think he would’ve started even if Dyson was healthy, what with Boston starting a lefty.  The bullpen, obviously, is the real hero of this one.  Six shutout innings from the 7th through the 12th, with everyone getting a taste.  When you factor in how awesome Boston’s offense is (or at least, has the potential to be), it’s all the more impressive.

Day game today, with Chris Sale on the mound against Andrew Moore; if the Mariners win THIS one I’ll eat my fucking hat.  So, let’s take a quick look at the standings before we all get depressed again.

By virtue of losing three of four to the Yankees, followed by beating Boston twice in a row, we’ve officially brought the Bronx Bombers to within 1 game of the A.L. East (indeed, putting them 1 game ahead in the loss column).  Getting back to .500 puts the Mariners back to 2.5 games within the second Wild Card spot (with the Rays in between, 1.5 games ahead of us).  The Royals – currently holding that second Wild Card spot – are on a 7-game winning streak, so they’re due to come back down to Earth anytime now.  Also, the Rays?  Please.  GTFO of here.

Okay, I’ve done everything I can to jinx the Mariners.  I’m sufficiently prepared for them to lose today.  Someone find my bookie!  Time to bet Steven Jr.’s college fund again!

Seattle Mariners – Situation Normal: All Fucked Up

Yovani Gallardo returned to the rotation yesterday, giving up 3 solo homers across 5 innings.  Yet, in spite of his very Gallardo-like start, he left the game with a 4-3 lead, thanks to the Mariners finally doing some damage against a Yankees starter.  That lead wouldn’t last much longer, as the bullpen – led by falling star James Pazos – gave up 3 runs in the sixth inning.

James Pazos has been quietly wretched for the last month.  Over his last 9 appearances, he’s given up 13 runs (10 earned) in 6.0 innings.  Obviously, the defense let him down in a couple of those games, but for the most part he’s been terrible, getting knocked around the park.  I haven’t been watching him that closely, so I don’t know if he’s falling into hitter’s counts, or if they’re just jumping on him early, but either way I think it’s time that he starts to work through some of this in Tacoma, because he’s not doing us any favors up in Seattle right now.

One bright spot was another 3 shutout innings from Emilio Pagan to spare the rest of the bullpen.  He has been absolutely fantastic since his atrocious first two appearances back in early May and it looks like he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

The big hullabaloo out of this game happened in the ninth inning, against closer Aroldis Chapman.  Nelson Cruz smashed an infield single off the pitcher to lead off the inning, and was replaced by pinch runner Taylor Motter.  Motter proceeded to immediately get picked off in just the worst, most lackadaisical way possible.  Considering he’s been pretty awful since the league stopped feeding him fastballs on the inner half of the plate (and he’s never been able to adjust accordingly), during the game the Mariners signed utility infielder Danny Espinosa, which means Motter will be Tacoma-bound.  As such, his getting picked off wasn’t necessarily the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it was a pretty inauspicious way to close out his tenure with the Big League club (at least, for the time being).

On top of that, with the way things shook out in the ninth, he cost us at least 1 run, and really changed the complexion of the inning.  At worst, with Seager’s double, we would’ve had runners on 2nd & 3rd with no outs, which would’ve preceeded a run-scoring wild pitch.  Of course, as it stands, we still had a runner on third with one out and couldn’t get him home, so maybe it wouldn’t have mattered at all.  The point is, you want to see how guys react when confronted with such adversity, and Motter really let him off the hook.

Par for the course, though, if you’ve been following these Mariners.  Their baserunning blunders are commonplace at this point; they did not leave with the trading away of Ketel Marte.  Considering how veteran this team is, it’s VERY discouraging to see them make so many unforced errors, but what can you do?

That makes 3 of 4 lost to the Yankees, with the Red Sox coming to town for three games.  And, don’t look now, but that’s Chris Sale going against Andrew Moore on Wednesday, meaning these first two games are practically Must Wins.  Great.

This Is Why You Can’t Blow 3-Run Save Situations, Mariners

You want to know why I was so irate about the Mariners losing to the Brewers on Sunday?  I mean, shit, look on the bright side, the M’s still won the series!

Yeah, except, you had to know the Mariners weren’t going to win every single series from here on out, right?  At some point, the Mariners were going to run into just a dud of an offensive night, against an aging-yet-at-times-effective veteran pitcher, and follow that up by being manhandled by that team’s ace.

C.C. Sabathia didn’t look anything remotely like the C.C. Sabathia of old last night, but he was able to change speeds and work the edges of the plate and just generally be a pain in the ass all night.  He was able to spread 3 hits and 1 walk across 7 innings while only giving up 1 run in a 5-1 defeat.  Indeed, this was his best performance in over 2 months, which makes it all the more galling, but that’s the whole point:  the offense isn’t going to dominate EVERY SINGLE GAME.  Sometimes, you’re just going to have an off night.  You just have to hope it doesn’t become a trend, but nothing about this season would suggest that’s happening.

What’s worse, and what makes Sunday’s abortion so unforgivable, is that today we have to go up against Masahiro Tanaka, who – in 4 career appearances – has manhandled the Mariners.  There’s no reason to expect that to change, which means we’re going to need Iwakuma to be at the very top of his game and hope for the best.

In reality, it means we’ve already lost this series.

This series loss could’ve been mitigated if the bullpen and the outfield defense didn’t completely fall apart on Sunday, but that’s baseball, I guess.

Losing this series isn’t the end of the world, of course.  But, for starters, it’s a bad sign that we can’t seem to play our best baseball against teams in contention.  If THAT continues, then you better get ready for Texas to eat our lunch in the next couple weeks.

Here’s where it really comes to bite us in the ass.  We hit the road this weekend for a 4-game series against the White Sox, where we have to see both of their studs in Sale and Quintana.  Then, guess what, in Texas next week, we have to face Darvish and Hamels, two MORE guys we have a whale of a time trying to hit!  If the Mariners don’t take advantage of these winnable games (like the one on Sunday!), then they have to work that much harder to try to get those games against the really good pitchers.

I mean, how many more miracle finishes could the Mariners possibly have left?

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back In Toronto

The pitching was halfway decent this weekend!  James Paxton went a strong 7 innings on Friday, only giving up 1 run.  Iwakuma & LeBlanc combined to not shit the bed when given 14 runs of support on Saturday.  And even Wade Miley came away with a Miley Quality Start, which is a lot like a regular quality start (6 innings, 2 runs), but should’ve probably been a lot better since he started to falter around pitch 70 and struggled to get through that 6th inning (and, not for nothing, but left the game at 89 pitches, yet had to be pulled before the 7th, because Miley).

All told, it added up to a series win, though fell short of a series sweep, because J.A. Happ has been a fucking machine ever since he left Seattle, because that makes sense.  Because soft-tossing lefties like him – with all that space out there in Safeco Field – should be terrible in Seattle and BETTER everywhere else he’s called home.  Yeah.  That’s just fucking great.  If Happ had been this version of Happ when he was with us, he’d likely still be in Seattle, and we wouldn’t have to suffer Miley’s mediocrity on a regular basis!

I don’t know what you can say about Sunday’s 1-hit effort, aside from it just being one of those days.  Funny though, it seems like Sunday is ALWAYS one of those days, as the Mariners are a whopping 4-12 on The Lord’s Day.  I don’t know what it says about the Mariners that they’re 8-8 on Shomer Shabbos; I think I’ll leave that for the comments section.

I’d like to point out that I’m pretty thrilled with what James Paxton was able to do, against a potent Blue Jays lineup.  Part of me still believes we have something special in this kid, and should make every effort to keep him around.  But, there’s another part of me who wouldn’t mind seeing Chris Sale in a Mariners uniform, and believes Paxton might be the centerpiece of a nice little trade package.  Throw in D.J. Peterson, Vidal Nuno, maybe a couple of lower-level minor leaguers, I think that gets it done!  Come on, we’ll take your prima donna off your hands!

In other news, Hisashi Iwakuma has 11 wins and an ERA under 4 for the first time in forever.  Don’t look now, but he’s in a nice little groove.

Looking ahead, the Mariners have two off-days this week, which is insane when you look into August and see the Mariners will be on a streak – starting this weekend – where they play 33 games in 34 days.  23 of those games happen on the West Coast, so at least that’s something.  But, I just hope everyone has a lot of fun today and Thursday, because those are the last easy days for a while.

2-game series in Pittsburgh starting tomorrow.  Those should be fun.  Then, a 3-game series against the Cubbies that I’m going to miss because I’ll be camping all weekend.

Adam Lind: Real American Hero!

To be perfectly honest, yesterday was going according to plan through the first eight innings.  Mind you, it wasn’t an IDEAL plan.  But, they had Chris Sale coming off of an All Star Game start and we didn’t.  Sale threw 100 pitches and gave up 1 hit and 3 walks, while striking out 6.  In the meantime, the White Sox pushed across 3 runs off of Wade LeBlanc (who managed to go a respectable 7 innings while also striking out 6, making 3 of his 4 starts at least 6 innings, which is Cy Young material when compared to the rest of the Mariners’ starting rotation).

Thanks to traditional baseball roles, the White Sox went to their closer, David Robertson, who had only blown 2 saves coming into last night’s game.  Aside from a couple of random meltdowns, Robertson has been a quality reliever for the White Sox this year.  Hindsight being what it is, if I was a White Sox fan last night, part of me would understand going to your closer in a 3-run game.  But, as someone who is quickly growing tired of traditional baseball roles, when you see your starter rolling through 8 innings, having only thrown 100 pitches, it’s hard to fathom why he wasn’t out there to at least start the 9th inning.  I mean, OBVIOUSLY, the Mariners wouldn’t have done anything!  They hadn’t gotten anything over a single off of him all day, and that was back in the first inning!  The most trouble he was in all day was the 7th, when he hit two guys, with the middle of the order coming up.  But, Cano, Cruz, and Seager all went down no problem; threat erased.

Of course, had Sale gone out in the 9th, and given up a couple of baserunners, I’m sure everyone would have flipped out on their manager anyway.  Going to your closer is an effective way to push blame off of the manager and onto the closer who couldn’t get the job done.  But, I dunno.  Wins are precious in baseball.  And managers are paid to lead.  No guts, no glory, my main man.

Anyway, that 9th inning was a thing of beauty.  Seager at the plate, 2 on, 2 out, singled to center to make it a 3-1 game.  Adam Lind hit for Iannetta – who has been in a pretty stiff funk so far in July, so much so that Jesus Sucre of all people started in back-to-back games, which should NEVER happen EVER – who was in a very similar situation back on June 24th, against the Cardinals.  That game also featured the Mariners down 3-1, with 2 runners on in the bottom of the 9th (the only difference was that there weren’t any outs that time, so arguably there was more pressure last night), before Lind jacked the game-winning homer.

I don’t want to try to make an argument that Lind is some sort of super-clutch godhead or something.  I will say that, while his season has been a bit of a disappointment, he certainly knows how to pick his moments.

As always, you wonder if these moments are catalysts for potential hot streaks.  Well, after the June 24th game, he had a couple of multi-hit games (including a 4-hit day) to generate a temporary boost, but then he had an 0 for 13 stretch of 5 games that brought him back down to Earth, to the point where after last night’s heroics, he’s pretty much right where he was back on June 24th.  In other words, it’s probably crazy to expect a huge bounce back to being productive again, but at least we know he still has this in him.  He hasn’t totally let the sagging numbers of this season destroy him mentally.  And, while you probably don’t want to EXPECT great things in the second half, it wouldn’t shock me to see steady improvement, as he’s continued to be put into appropriate situations where he can take advantage of his excellence against right-handed pitching.

Adam Lind:  the hero the Mariners deserve.  Let’s hope for a repeat tonight.

Mariners Continue To Flush Season Down The Toilet

Watching the Mariners these days is worse than trying to get motivated to write on a Monday morning before I’ve had a chance to suck down a large coffee.  Of course, they’re not always going to look as bad as they did on Sunday, where they had 4 errors and grounded into 5 double plays and left the bases loaded twice without scoring either time and gave up a grand slam to Carlos Gomez of all people and once again let Jose Altuve beat them when the game was still somewhat in doubt and had a starter once again fail to go beyond 5 innings pitched.

If it weren’t for an incredible pitching performance on Saturday – highlighted by one of Iwakuma’s good starts, going 7 shutout – the Mariners rightly should’ve been swept yet again by the superior Astros.  It’s not even close how much better they are than the Mariners right now; luckily we don’t have to face them again until late September, when we’ll be so far out of contention it won’t even matter anyway.

Word to the wise:  if you want to preserve what little sanity you have left as a diehard Mariners fan, DON’T WATCH THE NEXT TWO GAMES!  The White Sox come to town tonight for a 3-game series, and I bet you’re thinking, “What’s he talking about?  The White Sox aren’t anything special!”  And that’s very true.


They have two of the best starters in the American League right now in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.  Two pitchers who are undeniably great, and two pitchers who seem to take it to another level when they play the Mariners, especially Sale.  When you consider the Mariners have The Two Wades going (LeBlanc tonight, Miley tomorrow), just save yourself a lot of pain and anguish now and plan to be doing literally ANYTHING other than watching the Mariners the next two nights.

That way, come Wednesday afternoon, you’ll be nice and refreshed for Felix Hernandez’s glorious return!

Do The Mariners Have Any All Stars This Year?

Yeah, the All Star Game isn’t until mid-July (and, frankly, doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things), but you and I know these things are determined in the first couple months of the season.  One good early-season hot streak can seep into the minds of the voting public (not to mention the fantasy baseball-playing public), and shape everyone’s opinions even if that player isn’t doing quite so hot by the time July 12th rolls around.

So, should we expect to have any Mariners on the team this year?

For starters, I think you gotta make Robinson Cano a lock.  Granted, he’s coming off of a down year, but he’s been not just one of the best second basemen in the league, he’s been one of the best all-around players in the league!  The early-season tear that he was on has cooled off a little bit, but he’s still 2nd in the A.L. in home runs, and tops in RBI.  This is pretty much a no-brainer, even with Jose Altuve’s high batting average.

Beyond Cano, I think you can make a sound argument for Nelson Cruz as the DH.  Even though the game is being played in San Diego’s Petco Park, the American League is still considered the “home team” and as such, the game will feature the DH (unless that rule has changed, and they stick with the DH regardless of who is considered the home team; in my mind, it’s home team-dependant for some reason).  I think Cruz is a solid second option behind who will surely get voted in as the starter, and that’s David Ortiz.  Ortiz is supposedly retiring after this year – so his sympathy vote will be off the charts – plus he’s just having the all-around best year as a designated hitter.  He leads Cruz in all hitting categories (except walks), and Cruz really hasn’t had any sort of hot streak to put his name on the map.  I still think Cruz makes it as a backup (because he still is one of the top power hitters in the game), but it would help his cause to have a really blistering June.

Seager has been coming on of late, but he still finds himself around 4th or 5th in most pertinent hitting categories among third basemen.  The thing is, his month of May has been re-DonkeyLips, and if he were to keep that going through most of June, he might hit his way back into the conversation.  Otherwise, there are a couple guys in Baltimore and Detroit with something to say.

That’s pretty much it, as far as hitters go.  Ketel Marte would’ve been an interesting argument before he went on the DL, as he was starting to play himself into more national recognition.  But, there are so many really good short stops in the league, Marte is probably a year or two away from really getting the sort of attention he needs.  Leonys Martin is another, what with his power numbers, but he’s never going to supplant a healthy Mike Trout, and I just think there are too many other big names out there for him to become a reserve.  He’d have to somehow maintain this hot stretch – maybe start batting in the .270s overall – and continue out-playing his career power number norms for him to make a dent.  It also wouldn’t hurt for the Mariners to keep winning.  Teams that lead the league in wins tend to have among the most All Star representatives (see:  2001 Mariners, with 8).

On the pitching side, I know a lot of fans are down on him, but Felix Hernandez is currently third among qualified starters in ERA.  It hasn’t been totally pretty, but he’s been getting the job done, and figures to be as close to a lock as there is among starting pitchers on this team.

Walker might have an outside chance, but he’s going to need to start putting up more zeroes, and start pitching more innings.  Iwakuma and Miley are both non-starters.  Indeed, if you want a REAL dark horse, Nathan Karns is currently 17th among American League starters in ERA.  He’s in a similar boat as Walker – and probably a year behind him from a national recognition standpoint – but that might be someone to keep an eye on over the next month.

As far as relievers go, it’s a little too soon to properly rate and compare among the league leaders.  I will say that Steve Cishek is tied for the A.L. lead in saves, and we all know closers are WAY more likely to make an All Star team than non-closers.  Cishek is also tied for 2nd in the league in blown saves, so that could be trouble.  If he can keep his blown saves under 5 or 6, keep his ERA below or right around 3.00, and be among the top two or three in saves, he should get in there.  Again, the more the Mariners win, the more it’ll help someone like Cishek.

And, the more it might help any relievers behind Cishek.  Like I just said, it’s really hard for a non-closer to make it.  You kinda need numbers that will blow everyone else away.  Like, an ERA under 1.00, or a fuckload of strikeouts or something.  I know Nuno has the better ERA, but if I’m making an argument for any other reliever besides Cishek, it would be Nick Vincent.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s almost nothing Vincent can do to be an All Star this year, aside from strike out literally every batter he faces between now and the end of June (or whenever voting ends for the ASG).  But, he’s got an ERA under 1.50, he’s pitched a lot of innings, he’s being used in higher-leverage situations, and he’s striking out WELL over a batter per inning.  For a guy like Vincent to make the team, we’d have to be looking at a crop of very mediocre relievers around the rest of the A.L. and I just don’t see that being the case.

In tl;dr, look for Cano to be a starter, look for Felix to be one of the top starters (but likely won’t actually start the game as long as Chris Sale has anything to say about it), look for Cruz to probably be a reserve DH after Ortiz, look for Cishek to be one of the top closers selected, and probably figure everyone else has too long of a shot to make it.

Still, that’s probably four Mariners in the All Star Game this year.  When was the last time we could say THAT?

(2014.  It was 2014.  Felix, Seager, Cano, and Fernando Rodney.  God Bless America)

Awards Season: Felix Hernandez Did Not Win The Cy Young Award

Kyle Seager winning the Gold Glove was a nice little surprise I think nobody expected.  Chris Young winning the Comeback Player of the Year was as sure of a slam dunk as can be.  Lloyd McClendon not even making the Top 3 for Manager of the Year is at least a little insulting, but it’s hard for me to say if he’s more or less deserving than the Baltimore, Kansas City, and Anaheim managers.  I’m too close to the situation; I’ve watched these Mariners bungle their way through life for too many years.  2014, and the job done by LMC, felt like a fucking miracle on par with walking on water.  Then again, I probably would’ve sent my vote to the Kansas City manager – even discounting what they did in the post-season – because if you want to talk Long Suffering Baseball Fans, followers of the Royals will chew your God damn ear off!

Yesterday, they announced the Cy Young awards.  In the NL, Clayton Kershaw won it unanimously.  In the AL, it was always going to be a 2-man race.  In one corner, you have Felix Hernandez.  The face of the Mariners’ franchise and one of the most talked-about names in baseball at every trade deadline until he signed that massive extension.  Winner of the 2010 Cy Young Award, having the single greatest season he’s ever had in what’s looking like a Hall of Fame career.  In the other corner, you have Corey Kluber.  A guy, plays for the Indians, who became a full time starter in 2013.  He had his breakout this year, coming in second overall in strikeouts, with a lot of other impressive numbers to boot.

Two worthy players (and Chris Sale, I guess, but no one took him seriously).  Two aces pitching for teams who fell just short of the Wild Card.

Felix had the ERA crown at 2.14.  Felix had the best WHIP in a generation with 0.92.  Felix was second in Innings Pitched (236, behind David Price) and fourth in strikeouts (248, behind Price, Kluber, and Max Scherzer).  Felix’s 6.8 WAR was second to Kluber’s 7.4.  Felix’s 2.56 FIP was behind Kluber’s 2.35.  Felix’s strikeout-to-walk ratio was a little better, Kluber’s strikeout-per-9 innings was a little better.

In the end, it was determined by the Baseball Writers.  Out of 30 voters, Kluber received 17 first place votes to Felix’s 13.  Overall, Kluber had 169 points to Felix’s 159.  It was that close.  Both were deserving to win it all, but one guy did, and it wasn’t our guy.  That makes me a little sad.

What irritates the shit out of me is the rationale some of these voters used.  Read this.  Or don’t.  I’ll summarize.  Here are some of the reasons why people voted for Kluber over Felix:

  • The Seattle Mariners had a good defense, while the Cleveland Indians had a bad defense.
  • Felix Hernandez had one bad game in Toronto on September 23rd.
  • Felix Hernandez plays in a more pitcher-friendly home ballpark.
  • Kluber beat Felix in their lone head-to-head matchup.
  • Kluber had a better month of September.
  • Kluber had more 10-strikeout games.
  • Kluber had better sabermetrics.

The last point I’d be willing to concede.  I’m not going to dig around and learn all the intricacies of every sabermetric statistic to try to make an argument one way or the other.  If you tell me Kluber had the better sabermetrics, and if that’s something that matters to you as a voter, then fine, I give.

But, come on.  You’re punishing Felix because of Safeco Field, and because our general manager put a competent defensive unit around him?  At that point, what more could he possibly do?  How much better than Kluber would he reasonably have to be to be considered the best pitcher in the AL?  How can he expect to compete for one of these awards again if he’s being dinged for things outside of his control?

Nevermind the fact that his home and road numbers are actually quite similar, and the fact that he gave up four more homers in Safeco than he did on the road.  Oh, and also NEVERMIND the fact that Felix had 12 unearned runs compared to Kluber’s 8, which would lead me to understand that maybe Felix didn’t have this huge defensive advantage after all.  Yeah, no, yeah, those are valid reasons.

Oh, but that month of September though!  Hang on:

  • Felix:  6 games, 1.66 ERA, 25 hits in 38 innings, 11 walks, 43 strikeouts
  • Kluber:  6 games, 2.09 ERA, 39 hits in 43 innings, 7 walks, 56 strikeouts

I dunno, not seeing this huge difference.  And pardon me if I don’t give credence to their head-to-head matchup, which saw Felix take the loss while going 7 innings and giving up 2 runs, while Kluber went the full 9, shutting out our inept offense.  If you’re going to use that as criteria in voting for Kluber, then we have to bring team offense into the equation.  Cleveland as a team scored 35 more runs than the Mariners and had a .706 OPS vs. our .676.  But, again, that’s really an argument I don’t want to make, because this is SUPPOSED to be about the pitchers.

The one thing that really burns my ass more than anything else is this whole What Have You Done For Me Lately mentality.  Really?  We’re going to boil a guy’s season down to his final meaningful start?

Corey Kluber went 8 shutout innings on September 26th to win his final start of the year 1-0.  Felix Hernandez went 4.2 innings on September 23rd down in Toronto, costing us a win and ultimately a shot at the Wild Card.  He gave up 8 runs in that game, though a scoring change after the fact determined only 4 of those runs were earned (and thereby giving him the ERA title after he pitched 5.1 innings of meaningless shutout baseball on the final day of the season).

I can see being a little cynical about that whole scoring change issue.  Seems a little self-serving on the Mariners’ part to ask for a review of the play days later, but Major League Baseball didn’t HAVE to give us the scoring change.

Regardless, one guy won his last start and one guy didn’t.  Except, here’s the thing:  at the end of the day on September 26th, the Indians were 3 full games back in the Wild Card race, with two days to go.  They had two teams to leapfrog in order to get into the playoffs even going IN to that game, so what makes Kluber’s performance on that day any more important than Felix’s performance on the 28th, after we’d found out Oakland won earlier in the afternoon?  Kluber’s big final start meant NOTHING, and yet he’s being lauded for pitching well in a meaningless game.

Was it a shame that Felix laid a stinker in Toronto?  Of course.  You can certainly make the argument that, to date, that game was the biggest of Felix’s career.  Albeit, a career that has still yet to see him grace the post-season.  Nevertheless, that was an important game, and his meltdown cost us on that day.

But, the Cy Young isn’t supposed to be about what you did last.  It’s supposed to be about your entire body of work.  And, quite frankly, I’ll never be able to forget what Felix was able to do in those 16 starts from May 18th through August 11th when he went at least 7 innings in every game while giving up 2 runs or less.  IN EVERY GAME!  Are you kidding me?  He set the Major League record!  That’s not just dominance, that’s SUSTAINED dominance, over damn near half a season!  And, it’s not like he’s just hanging his hat on those 16 starts, most of his other 18 starts were pretty fucking good too.  But, not that one in Toronto, I guess.  Fuck me.

Why are we glossing over a remarkable achievement like those 16 consecutive starts?  Why isn’t THAT the fucking headline on this Cy Young race?  Clayton Kershaw, the unanimous NL Cy Young award winner couldn’t even achieve what Felix was able to achieve!  And we’re glossing over it for what?  A lone start in September?  Bitch, please.

I’m not going to go around saying this is the biggest travesty in the history of meaningless sports awards, but it’s still pretty fucking irritating.  It’s also a reason why I choose to no longer talk about politics with anyone, even with people who agree with mine.  It’s not what you vote for, it’s HOW you vote.  And the OVERWHELMING majority of ignorant cunts in this country base their votes on the most pointless, trivial, stupid-ass bullshit you can possibly think of.  The Baseball Writers Association of America, sadly, is a predictable cross section of those very same ignorant cunts of the American voting public.