When I was a kid, I gave much more of a shit about baseball rivalries than I do now. I hated the Yankees, obviously. I disliked the Rangers quite a bit (especially when they signed A-Rod). In the early 2000’s, I REALLY hated the Athletics, because even though the Mariners won 90+ games from 2000-2003, the A’s were the reason why we only made the playoffs twice (in spite of a couple 93-win campaigns). In recent years, I guess I hate the Astros, but I don’t even know if they qualify as a rivalry, from my fan’s perspective. It’s more of a looming dread whenever I see HOU coming up on the little pocket calendar I have hanging up at my desk. When the switch flipped and Houston became HOUSTON, it’s been utter annihilation (and even before they were good, they still won an annoying amount of times). Besides, this is really the first year where the Mariners and Astros have been on the same level, record-wise. They may indeed grow to become my most hated baseball enemy when the season’s over.
But, for now, I think I hate the Angels the most. Granted, they’re clearly the better franchise. They’ve actually WON a World Series, for instance. They’ve been to the playoffs 10 times to our 4; they’ve consistently been more of a winning team in general (and haven’t had those bottom-out years like the Mariners have). Nevertheless, with the Astros way up there, I’ve always seen the Angels as more of our peers. Whenever you find the Mariners contending for a wild card spot, the Angels always seem to be right there with us. Also, from 2010 onward, the Angels only have the 1 playoff appearance, so it’s not like they’ve been super awesome of late. And, they’ve had a number of players I couldn’t help but despise, from Mike Trout to Jered Weaver to (retroactively) Chone Figgins to John Lackey to Troy Glaus to Tim Salmon to Chuck Finley. The only Angels player I ever really liked was Vlad, because he was fucking amazing and I secretly never forgave the Mariners for not making a bigger push to sign him when he was a free agent after 2003. Can you even imagine? That would’ve been so much fun!
Anyway, the Mariners just swept the Angels yesterday in the 3-game series, and I couldn’t be happier.
I didn’t hold out a ton of hope in yesterday’s game, even when the Angels’ starter was pulled after 2 innings with an injury. Marco Gonzales really wasn’t as sharp as he’d been of late, only lasting 5 innings, giving up 3 runs. We knew ahead of time that Edwin Diaz wasn’t going to be available, after pitching 3 games in a row, and in 4 games in 5 days. That slotted the bullpen all kinds of wonky, and accordingly the bullpen wasn’t as sharp as it had been of late either. Newcomer Mike Morin – in just his 2nd appearance since being called up from Tacoma – gave up a run on a triple and a sac fly. Chasen Bradford – who has been all kinds of good this year – gave up 2 solo homers in the 7th to put us behind by 2 runs. And, there we were, late in the game, facing the prospects of losing for just the third time in the month of June.
That’s when the offense went back to work. Gamel and Zunino had RBIs in the 2nd to stake the Mariners to a 2-0 lead. Then, after an RBI by Trout (who somehow didn’t homer in this one, though he did have two hits and two intentional walks), Nelson Cruz hit a 2-run bomb (which is his 5th in the last 5 games) to put the M’s up 4-1. In the 7th, after Bradford gagged up the homers, Segura hit a guy in on a double; followed by Healy solo homering in the 8th to re-tie the game; ultimately setting the stage for a bottom of the 9th showdown (thanks to a couple scoreless innings out of eventual winner Roenis Elias).
With one out, Segura on at first, Mitch Haniger took a mistake by the Angels pitcher and deposited it into the left field stands for his second walk-off home run of the season. Not for nothing, but that’s his 16th homer of the season (tying his mark of 2017) and his 52nd RBI (surpassing what he did in 2017, in 29 fewer games). Can you imagine what it’ll be like if he can stay healthy all year? He truly is deserving of a slot on the All Star team.
The Mariners are still 0.5 games ahead of the Astros, but are now 7.5 games ahead of the Angels, which is just the best.
Now, we’ve got a 4-game series against the Red Sox. I hope you like a lot of annoying Boston fans, because they’re coming out in force! The good news is Chris Sale pitched yesterday, so we lucked into avoiding one of the best lefties in the game. The bad news is the rest of their rotation is also really fucking good. And, James Paxton is saddled with Friday’s “Fireworks Night” game, which I believe the Mariners have lost every fucking time they’ve done it. Here’s to hoping for a little of that old Felix magic tonight as he squares off against David Price. This series could get REAL dicey in a hurry.