It’s hard for me to tell if this is a Same Old Mariners situation, or if this is the final death rattle of those Same Old Mariners, where natural instincts kick in – and the M’s play like those Same Old Mariners for a very short while – before mercifully passing and morphing into a new and exciting team for a generation to come.
Either way, this all tracks for what we’ve come to expect from this organization. What was the one fear we all had? As soon as the expectations to win became REAL, the clock would strike midnight, the team would turn back into a pumpkin, and we’d be left holding the tattered rags of a once-beautiful dress, sitting in mud next to a dog and a couple of mice.
If you want to put a positive spin on it, then you’re probably expecting this team to perform up to snuff in late-May or early-June. And, if that’s the case, it’s easy to make the argument that this series would’ve been a Mariners sweep if we’d only played it then. But, it was played now, and instead of winning all three, we went 1-2.
To be fair, we probably didn’t have any business winning the first game. Luis Castillo was fine, but had one bad inning and left with the team losing 2-1 after six innings. Then again, we also had no business letting Drew Smyly dominate us through five innings (which easily would’ve been seven or eight, if his arm was stretched out enough).
I’ll tell you this much, the bottom of this lineup is REALLY starting to piss me off. The only reason A.J. Pollock was brought here in the first place is to be a right-handed platoon partner for Jarred Kelenic, who is supposed to mash left-handed pitching! He has exactly one good game under his belt so far, but otherwise Scott Servais can’t wait to get him out of any game he starts. In this one, as soon as Smyly left, all the usual left-handed bats were inserted into the lineup to try to kickstart some offense. Wong in for Haggerty (Wong hasn’t been any great shakes at all, but had a couple of singles in this one), Cal in for Tom Murphy (who has a whopping one hit on the season), and most importantly, Kelenic in for Pollock.
We have all these platoon opportunities, but they’re all shit. We have this deep bench of rotating DH candidates, but it’s almost exclusively WASTED on them, rather than giving other guys rest days from the field. What the hell are we doing here?! Why is Cooper Hummel a DH? What kind of a sick joke is that, perpetuated by the team who employed the greatest designated hitter of all time?!
If this was the only year we were trotting out baseball’s worst DH, I might let it go. But, we’ve been ABYSMAL at filling that spot ever since Edgar retired, and it’s a God damned embarrassment.
What’s decidedly NOT embarrassing is the way Kelenic is playing. He yanked a solo homer in the top of the 9th to tie it at 2-2, leading me to wonder if things were going to turn around here. Instead, Matt Brash came in to pitch the 10th (after we failed to score our own ghost runner), botched a pick-off move, and allowed the game-winning RBI single to blow another one.
Still waiting for that dominating relief pitcher we were all promised.
The game on Tuesday got off to a fabulous start, with the Mariners jumping out to a 7-0 lead and chasing their starter in the second inning. Unfortunately, this was Chris Flexen’s turn in the rotation, and it wasn’t exactly his best performance. He got chased in the bottom of the third (giving up 8 runs in 2.1 innings) and the rout was on from there. How a game that featured the M’s being up by 7 runs at one point, turned into a rout for the OTHER team, is something that only the Mariners could achieve. 14-9 defeat, I shit you not.
Diego Castillo looks officially broken, which is great. Perfect timing with Brash’s struggles and Munoz being on the IL. We got some mop-up relief from Jose Rodriguez (3 innings, 3 runs), who was just called up before this game and promptly sent back down afterward. Tough luck, but at least he gets a mention in my blog.
At least the offense came to play. On a normal day, 9 runs is plenty, so that’s not nothing. France, Suarez, Cal, and J.P. all had good games. But, Kelenic gets a special shout-out for hitting a homer in back-to-back games (more on him in a bit).
We salvaged one in the Wednesday finale, 5-2. Logan Gilbert was dominant (6.2 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, on 94 pitches), the bullpen did its job (Justin Topa looks like he’s maybe a breakout reclamation project we didn’t see coming), and the offense both jumped out to an early lead and played add-on late in the game.
Julio, France, and Suarez all did well, Teoscar hit his third homer of the year, and not to be out-done, Kelenic hit his third homer in three games. This one a whopping 482-foot shot to the upper deck in center field, which is the longest Mariners home run in the Statcast era, and the longest regular season home run at Wrigley Field in the Statcast era. Just a fucking BLAST!
That leaves Kelenic hitting .351/.415/.703. This is everything we ever imagined he’d be and then some! Of course, it’s a 2-week sample. But, I would argue he’s never had a 2-week sample at the Major League level like this. Hell, he might not have had a 2-week sample like this EVER. Also, this is at the beginning of the season, not at the very end when nothing matters. Up to this point, it’s been about his minor league success and his hot stretches in September (hoping they’d carry over into the next season). But, now he looks confident, his swing is on point, the power is shining through, and he looks like the best player on this team.
On a team that, mind you, has Julio Rodriguez.
Whether that holds for the rest of the season is anybody’s guess. But, this adjustment he’s made (or series of adjustments) looks legit. This looks like it’s set to stick. And if that’s the case, the rest of the league better watch out!
There’s a lot of talk on Twitter among fans saying they’ll take this Kelenic hot start over the Mariners having a hot start; I think that’s a pointless conversation.
What I’m more interested in is how long the Mariners stick to their plan to both platoon Kelenic, while keeping him in the bottom third of the lineup.
I don’t have a major issue keeping him where he is in the lineup; there’s still obvious run-producing opportunities down at the bottom, and his hotness will help turn the lineup over to Julio at the top again. But, my patience with Pollock and La Stella and Hummel and all these other scrubs is wearing thin. I’m about two weeks away from abandoning the platoon, and taking my chances with Kelenic against left-handed pitchers. Maybe he gets a day off every two weeks or something, if there’s a particularly nasty southpaw. But, otherwise, I’d rather have the young stud over the fucking washout nobodies.
Who knew we’d miss Carlos Santana so much?