The Mariners Losing Games Isn’t So Much A Concern As Losing Players

The good teams can withstand a few injuries and still be great. The good teams can withstand players underperforming expectations, or otherwise going through prolonged slumps, because they have enough depth to fill things out and compete at a high level.

The Mariners aren’t there yet. The Mariners are on a shoestring tightrope they’re trying to walk, with pretty much zero depth and therefore zero margin for error when it comes to players getting injured. That’s why, this slew of guys either suffering severe injuries, or otherwise playing through nagging ones, is much more of a nightmare scenario than the Mariners having a sub-par road trip.

Julio Rodriguez had to be pulled from the outfield yesterday, as he’s dealing with back tightness that it sounds like will land him on the IL. Eugenio Suarez is famously already on the IL with an injured hand that might prevent him from playing third base again this season (rendering him as exclusively a DH, which really does a number on our team defensively). Mitch Haniger is playing through aches and pains. Ty France is playing through aches and pains (and has to try his glove at third base for the first time in years). J.P. Crawford missed yesterday with a leg issue or some damn thing. Cal Raleigh has an injured thumb on his glove hand.

This is forcing us into a position we’d rather not be in. Like having Carlos Santana out there every day (when he’s probably best served with regular rest days, at his advanced age). Like being forced to use Winker in spite of his struggles both at the plate and in the field. Like riding Sam Haggerty and Dylan Moore, when you figure both will come with diminishing returns the more they’re exposed to MLB pitching. Like playing Toro even though he’s a nonsense man with zero bat-on-ball skills whatsoever. Like taking stabs in the dark, with Kelenic called back up even though he can’t hit Major League bendy pitches (and, from what I recall, his prowess at hitting Major League straight pitches isn’t all that elite either).

Everyone feels this need for the team to fight to the bitter end for that top wild card spot, when that’s just asinine to me. Rest everyone who needs to rest – putting them on the IL for 10 days, if need be – and let’s just back into the playoffs as Wild Card #3!

There’s no way Baltimore is catching us. They play Houston for 4, the Red Sox for 4 on the road, the Yankees for 3 on the road, and the Blue Jays for 3 to close out their season. They won’t have the wins when all is said and done. And the White Sox aren’t even on my radar; they’re too far back. I don’t give two shits about the #1 or #2 wild card slots. Just give me #3 and let’s call it a season.

Meanwhile, let’s use these remaining 2 weeks to get healthy! We need all these guys for the post-season. How we finish the regular season is irrelevant! We did it! We’re good enough with the pitching we have to coast into that third wild card slot. But, if we keep pushing guys before they’re fully healed, then it’ll all be for naught.

I only care about what happens in the playoffs, against the Guardians of Cleveland, the Yankees of New York, and whoever we might face in a potential ALCS.

So, you can panic about this Oakland series all you want. It’s not phasing me. We lost 4-1 on Tuesday after managing all of one hit. Seems like a bad luck game to me more than anything (Luis Castillo falling apart against that lineup for a second time is a bit perturbing, though). We lost 2-1 on Wednesday, but that was even crazier of a scenario, where Robbie Ray went 6 shutout innings and some poor defense behind Erik Swanson doomed us.

Sanity was restored (at least for one day) in yesterday’s 9-5 victory. Sure, Julio had to leave, but Kelenic had a couple of monster hits (has he FINALLY turned a corner? We’ll see over the next week and change), and France and Haniger seem to be waking up from their slumber. It wasn’t a good outing by Kirby, but it was nice to see the offense overcome against a team they’re supposed to beat.

One final trip – to Kansas City – and then we’re home until the playoffs. We’ve only got a half-game cushion with the Rays keeping us in that third wild card spot. We’re still 4 up on Baltimore (but really we’re 5 up, since we hold the tiebreaker).

The Mariners Dropping A Series In Anaheim Isn’t The Worst Thing Ever

The most important thing regarding the Mariners is simply Making The Playoffs. In that sense, it might not have been too cool if we’d been swept in that 4-game series. But, I wouldn’t have been totally opposed to that either.

We sit 5 games ahead of Baltimore, all alone as the third wild card team. That’s the sweet spot. Honestly, we could probably stand to give the Rays and Blue Jays a little bit of a cushion. Because, the second-most important thing regarding the Mariners is holding onto that third wild card spot. That means we avoid the aforementioned Blue Jays and Rays in the wild card round, plus we avoid the Astros in the ALDS (if we are to make it that far). A 3-game road trip to Cleveland is absolutely my top choice for the Mariners. And, losing 3 of 4 to the Angels went pretty far towards reaching that goal.

I will say this was a fairly ugly series, for numerous reasons. The pitching shit the bed on Friday, with Robbie Ray giving up 5 runs in 5 innings. Matt Festa followed by giving up a 3-run home run in the sixth to really put us away. The offense somehow managed to claw its way back (thanks to homers by Julio and France, and two homers by Carlos Santana), but ultimately we didn’t have enough, and lost 8-7.

Then, the hitting went to sleep for a couple games. That’s not too surprising when you factor in the injuries to Suarez (who hit the IL after getting hit on the hand with a pitch on Friday), Julio (who has yet to hit the IL, after tweaking his back in batting practice), Haniger (who did … something; maybe fielding for a ball?), Raleigh (who has a left thumb/hand injury from sliding into a base), and Ty France (who is allegedly dealing with a nagging something or other, and is playing through it in spite of his struggles at the plate). The only “good” injury news – if you want to call it that – is the fact that Dylan Moore returned from the IL, to help mitigate some of this damage.

Anyway, on Saturday we lost 2-1. Ohtani went 7 shutout innings. Kirby gave up 2 runs in 6 innings. Trammell homered against their bullpen, but that was it.

We lost 5-1 on Sunday, with Marco having one of those Bad Marco days, giving up 5 runs in 6.1 innings. Not a lot of positives to hang our hat on here.

In the rare 4th game of a series landing on a Monday, we salvaged one on the back of Logan Gilbert going 6 innings, giving up 1 run while striking out 11. It’s in the running for most dominant outing of his career, that’s for sure. And, it came with a relatively soft landing, as the bats decided to wake up again. France hit an RBI double in the first, Santana hit a grand slam in the fifth, France hit a 3-run bomb in the seventh, and Santana added a solo homer in the ninth (all adding up to a 9-1 victory). It’s been cool to see Santana get hot at exactly the right time, with France and Haniger starting to find their swings again.

The hope is for Julio to return sometime this week. But, we’ll see about Raleigh, and obviously Suarez is a HUGE concern (since he’d been red-fucking-hot over the last month or so). At this point, I think we’d be thrilled if Suarez is back by the playoffs, but you have to worry about his health at that point; will he be able to return to form? Or, will this injury essentially wipe out his season with ineffectiveness, even if he does return to the field? I think it’s safe to say the Mariners need EVERYONE to be healthy and producing, if we want to make some noise in the playoffs. If we lose any vital cogs, it’s going to decimate our chances.

The road trip concludes with three in Oakland, followed by three in Kansas City. Now is not the time to go on a massive winning streak, although I don’t know if it can be helped. Those teams are SO BAD and our pitching is still really damn good. Then, we’re home for 10 games in 9 days against Texas, Oakland, and Detroit. Ditto there. Here’s to everyone getting healthy over the next couple weeks, but also here’s to the team finishing with the third wild card spot. We deserve it!

The Mariners Split Against The Padres Before Their Final Road Trip Of The Regular Season

This was more or less what you might expect from the Mariners against a good team. Lose a game 2-0, then win a game 6-1.

The shutout was pretty rare compared to what we’ve seen over the last three months. It certainly harkens back to those dark days of April and May, but the Mariners have been remarkably improved since then, as we’re all well aware of. That being said, I don’t think the shutout in a vacuum was all that shocking. Yu Darvish has had a lot of success against the Mariners in his career. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the game’s best. In this one, he showed that in spades, going 8 innings, giving up 2 hits and 0 walks, while striking out 7.

We didn’t stand a chance. It was cool to see Logan Gilbert go 5 innings and limit their offense to just the one run, but obviously that ended up being one run too many.

It was awesome to see the bounce-back yesterday, with Luis Castillo leading the way. 6 shutout innings on 4 hits and 1 walk, with 9 strikeouts. Julio Rodriguez led off the game with a homer, Eugenio Suarez continued his torrid power pace with a 2-run bomb later in the first inning, and Carlos Santana proved he’s still among the living with a 3-run dinger in the fifth.

This was kind of a cool week for the Mariners, even though it’s a little unsatisfying for us fans. Off-day Monday, 2-game series, off-day today. Right before we go on the road to play 10 games in 10 days. We have our final four games against the Angels (just in time for Mike Trout to be the hottest he’s ever been at the plate), three down in Oakland, and then three in Kansas City. All of those teams should be pushovers, but we still have to go out and get the job done.

Then, we get an off-day, before the closing stretch of the regular season. Three vs. Texas, three vs. Oakland, and four vs. Detroit in three days (what in the fuck is baseball thinking putting a doubleheader on the second-to-last day of the regular season?). This is it! Then, we finally, FINALLY break the streak of playoff-less seasons!

We’re 80-62. We are a half-game behind Toronto (in the win column) for the top wild card spot. We’re a full game up on Tampa. But, most importantly, we are 5 full games ahead of Baltimore (the first team out of the playoffs). With 20 games remaining. That’s as sure of a thing as it gets.

Now, we get to obsess over seeding. Do we want to be the top wild card team – to host the 3-game series – but have to go to Houston in the ALDS if we advance? Or, do we want to be the last wild card team – to go on the road against the worst divisional winner for the 3-game series – and get a crack at the relatively slumping Yankees?

I know everyone is gung ho about the Mariners hosting a series and that’s everyone’s first choice, but it’s not mine! I want to give the Mariners the best chance to win. We’re better on the road than we are at home. Also, the best A.L. Central team is worse than ANY of the wild card teams. When you combine that with the chance to avoid Houston for as long as humanly possible, it’s no contest. Give me the worst wild card slot, hands down! And, who knows, maybe someone else might do our dirty work for us and take out Houston in the ALDS, so we could play a lesser team in the ALCS.

Of course, these are the Mariners, and even when things are going good, we can’t have REALLY nice things. So, we’ll almost certainly end up as the second wild card team, and get fucked five ways from Sunday.

The Playoff-Bound Mariners Took Down The Defending Champs

You never want to put too much stock in any one series, but this past weekend’s set against the Atlanta Braves was a good barometer to see where the Mariners are at among playoff contenders. Granted, the odds of actually facing the Braves in the playoffs are astronomical – both teams would have to endure their respective gauntlets to meet in the World Series – but it’s still important to see the Mariners play good teams and actually perform accordingly.

Friday’s 6-4 loss was a little wonky, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see the likes of it come playoff time. Robbie Ray was just a little off. He gave up a couple homers (4 runs in total) in five innings; it wasn’t his best work. But, then again, the Braves have an outstanding lineup, so you kind of expect them to lean into some of these pitches. Then, Matt Festa came in and gave up a couple of solo jobs that proved to be the deciding runs of the game. The only noteworthy hitting performance by the M’s was Carlos Santana’s 2 homers. But, obviously, he can’t do everything himself.

I was in attendance for Saturday’s 3-1 victory, and it was everything I could ever want. It was a fun pitcher’s duel, with George Kirby really putting his stamp on being this team’s third-best starter. He made it through the first six innings with ease, and should’ve gone further were it not for an untimely J.P. Crawford error that cost us at least one, if not two outs. With two runners on and no outs in the top of the sixth – against that Braves lineup – Scott Servais did the sensible thing and went to Andres Munoz, who got out of the jam while only giving up the one (unearned) inherited run. Very nice line for Kirby overall: 6 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts. Swanson and Sewald closed it out from there.

Offensively, we had a Sam Haggerty solo homer to kick off the scoring in the bottom of the fifth (he also made a couple of fantastic defensive plays in left, proving once again why he needs to be this team’s everyday left fielder). Eugenio Suarez mashed a solo bomb in the bottom of the sixth to give us our winning run. And Julio Rodriguez clubbed a double in the bottom of the seventh to give the game its final score. All in all, a fun and entertaining game throughout (capped by a White Sox fan (?) running onto the field in the middle of it).

Sunday’s 8-7 victory topped them all though. Marco Gonzales continued his hot streak, going 6 innings and limiting the Braves to 1 run on 2 hits (0 walks, 5 strikeouts), in what might be his best performance of the year (especially when you factor in the offense he was going up against). It looked like we were going to cruise to a 6-2 victory, thanks to a J-Rod homer in the first, a Suarez homer in the fifth, and some nice rallies in the 4th and 6th innings to give us a nice little cushion.

But, Swanson gave up a run in the 8th, and Diego Castillo came in to close out the 9th with a 4-run lead. He proceeded to basically give it all away, giving up 3 runs in 0.2 innings. Paul Sewald had to come in and try to salvage the game, but he too didn’t have it, giving up a go-ahead 2-run bomb. All told, the game went from a sure-thing series win, to the Mariners being down 7-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

I don’t know who the Braves’ closer is, but apparently he’s pretty highly regarded. Seems suspect to me, given his numbers. This would be his 7th blown save on the season, which seems absurdly high for someone who’s supposed to be elite. Anyway, with one out, Julio jerked a slider harder than anyone’s ever hit anything in life, for the tying solo homer. Then, with two outs, Eugenio Suarez muscled a fastball to left center for the game-winner. That’s 25 homers (and counting) for Julio, and 30 homers (and counting) for Suarez, who have both been pretty red-hot of late.

We’re now 79-61 on the year, and we close out this homestand with two against the Padres starting tomorrow. I believe those are our final games against winning teams until the playoffs. We’re in a virtual tie for the top wild card spot with Tampa (they have one fewer victory and one fewer defeat), which means we’re in the second wild card spot (a half-game – in the win column – ahead of the Blue Jays). More importantly, though, we’re 6 games ahead of Baltimore (who are on the outside of the playoffs, looking in). Our odds of making the playoffs are 99.8%. There are 22 games remaining.

What a wonderful time we’re all having right now!

Sluggish Mariners Dropped A Series To The White Sox

I’m struggling to find it problematic that the Mariners lost this series. Although, I will say, it’s mystifying that we had a chance to prevail in the rubber match against an inferior opponent – much like that last A’s series we lost a few weeks back – but Luis Castillo couldn’t muster a dominant outing once again.

You could argue we lost the series in Game 1 on Monday. That game notoriously followed the one in Cleveland on Sunday that took all damn day due to rain delays, necessitating us returning to Seattle in the wee hours of Monday morning. And yet, we got a quality start out of Marco Gonzales (7 innings, 3 runs), and ultimately made a game of it in the end, before falling 3-2. One more timely hit and who knows how things turn out?

Tuesday’s game was pretty damn fun, with Logan Gilbert throwing 6 shutout innings, giving up 5 hits, 0 walks, and striking out 9. We were clinging to a 1-0 lead into the 8th inning, before Sam Haggerty worked a walk, stole a base, and was rewarded by scoring on a 2-run bomb by Cal Raleigh. The bullpen locked it down and it was a clean 3-0 victory.

Then, we get to the aforementioned Luis Castillo game, which I should say wasn’t totally his fault. He actually WAS pretty dominant to start – striking out the first seven batters he faced, a Mariners record – but the defense let him down and things went off the rails. A missed opportunity on a double play – where the runner beat it out by a hair, which was correctly overturned on replay – led to the next batter mashing a 2-run home run after all the M’s thought they were out of the inning. That kind of lapse didn’t seem big at the time – we were up 4-0 at the time, so 4-2 isn’t terrible – but it loomed large.

From there, I don’t even know. Everyone went into the game lauding the Mariners’ defense – mostly to contrast the shitty D of the White Sox – but we ended up with 3 errors on the day, and however many other mishandled balls that didn’t quite reach the level of error. The White Sox scored 3 unearned runs in the sixth (4 runs total), an unearned run in the eighth, and 2 unearned runs in the ninth. The offense did what they needed to do – including two homers by Eugenio Suarez – but the end result was a 9-6 defeat.

But, like I said up top, I’m not mad. We just swept an entire fucking road trip, we can afford to lose 2 of 3 to the White Sox (a team we’re almost certainly not going to see in the playoffs). Now, we get a much-needed off-day before a weekend series against a VERY good Braves team. I’ll be there on Saturday, I’ll let you know how we look.

The Mariners Had An Annoying Split Against A Terrible Team

The Athletics and the Nationals have lost a combined billion games this season. They are – no if’s, and’s, or but’s – the two worst teams in all of baseball. And, in the last five games, we’ve gone a combined 2-3 against them.

This isn’t an outrage to end all outrages, but it’s like, what are we doing here? The whole point of getting to enjoy this fluffy pillow of a schedule is beating up on crap teams like these! Then, you coast into a comfortable #1 wild card spot, and off we go.

Nothing ever comes easy for this franchise, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It just goes to show how much work we’ll need to do this offseason. We’re not a championship team, by any measure.

Tuesday’s game pretty much went according to plan. We got a dominant start out of Robbie Ray (6.2 innings, 1 run on 2 hits & 2 walks with 7 strikeouts) and some rock-solid bullpen work until the ninth, when Sewald gave up a run. The offense did just enough, though, with 2-run homers by Haniger and Suarez, and that all adds up to a 4-2 victory.

Yesterday’s game, on the other hand, was God damned insufferable. Our offense shit the bed against a terrible starter and they were pretty useless against a whatever bullpen. We totally squandered a fantastic start by George Kirby (7 innings, 1 run on 8 hits, with 9 strikeouts) and for a while there it looked like he might take the hard-luck loss. Thankfully, Julio bowed up with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth to tie it. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, as Paul Sewald gave up a 2-run homer to cost us the game. Bad time for our trusty best reliever to go into a slump.

We have a huge series coming up starting today. The Cleveland Guardians née Rippers, Lake Shores, Bluebirds, Bronchos, Napoleons, & Indians come to town for a 4-game set. They’re currently the leaders in the A.L. Central, but as things can change in an instant, they could very well be contenders for one of our wild card spots (especially if the Twins get hot down the stretch). Right now, we’re effectively tied with the Guardians (we have one more victory and one more defeat), so if we want to make sure we have the edge over them heading into the playoffs, it would behoove us to win a bunch of these games. Because oh by the way, we also play them in Cleveland in about a week. So, get used to this team, because we’re going to be seeing a lot of them!

Also, if Ty France could find his swing again, I’d really appreciate it!

What A Weird, Disappointing Mariners Road Trip

Ultimately, the Mariners had a winning road trip, though. There’s something to be said for a 9-game trip in the dead of August and coming out of it with more wins than losses. 5-4. Not great, but not terrible.

That being said, the Mariners had a lot going for them heading into this one. For starters, they were coming off of a series victory over the then-vaunted Yankees (who have since gone in the tank for reasons) and if you believe in momentum at all, you’d like to think we could parlay that into continued success (especially as a team that had previously won 14 games in a row). Then, when you factor in our opponents on this road trip, it just felt like this was a real opportunity to soar into the exosphere.

By August, the teams have largely differentiated themselves. You know who the best teams are, and you know who the bad teams are. Everything isn’t a foregone conclusion at this point – there are still lots of wild card contenders (as well as wild card “contenders”) who could play their ways in or out of the actual postseason – but we’re getting to the point where the picture is starting to come into sharp and clear focus. We’re in a division with the mighty Astros, but also the lowly Rangers, Angels, and Athletics. The Rangers are just your ordinary kind of bad. The Angels have – at times – looked like the worst team in all of baseball. And the Athletics might legitimately BE the worst team in all of baseball. So, that alone begs the Mariners to get to 6-3 on such a road trip. Combine that with the relatively limited travel requirements (compared to many of our east coast road trips this year), not to mention the two off-days we enjoyed, and you’re talking about a pretty soft landing, especially for a 9-game August road trip.

Yet, we screwed the pooch down in Texas as well as Oakland, and our only saving grace was a sweep down in Anaheim. That’s how you get to 5-4, but really we should’ve been at least one game better in that span. There’s also no reason why we shouldn’t have gone 7-2 or even 8-1 against those teams. This is the big Give Up portion of the season, where bad teams stop trying so hard. Considering we’re desperate to get back to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, you’d think that alone would’ve made all the difference.

And there’s not one thing you can pin the blame on. As much as we like to shit on the offense, they racked up double-digit runs on Friday to win 10-2. Even better when you consider Marco Gonzales was on the mound, and he’s in a very up-and-down stretch of his season. You saw the very best of what this offense can do when things are going right, immediately following an Angels series where we scored a combined 25 runs in three games.

Then, the offense kind of hit the skids again on Saturday. Logan Gilbert continued his relative slump, giving up 3 runs in 5 innings, and it looked like we were going to lose 3-2, until an 8th inning Suarez RBI single scored Haniger to tie it up. We got the game to extras, but couldn’t push our run home in the 10th. They were able to get it done with relative ease (Diego Castillo had no business trying to field that dribbler, when he was falling away from home plate, so even if he’d gotten to it cleanly, he never would’ve had the momentum to throw the runner out from third) and that became the one that got away.

The most shocking game of the road trip happened yesterday. I figured even with the annoying loss the previous night, we still had a great chance to win the series with Luis Castillo on the mound. Against those A’s? No contest! Except, he just didn’t have his usual pinpoint command, and they knocked him around for 4 runs in 5 innings, and there was no point in trying to extend him to triple-digit pitches when he didn’t have it (he finished throwing only 86, which will hopefully mean he’s fresher on his next turn). Once again, though, the offense couldn’t get it going. Haniger had a solo homer, and Cal & Julio rallied for a couple runs in the 7th, but that was all she wrote. A 5-3 defeat.

The good news is, we still have a combined 13 games against those three teams. But, we’ve also got a lot of games against the A.L. Central coming up. We’ll see how that shakes out. We gotta try to flush that road trip and go back to steadily winning series. That’s our best route to getting to the playoffs.

The Mariners Had A Very Enjoyable Sweep Over The Angels

In their first series down in Anaheim since The Brawl TM, the Mariners did what they needed to do: took care of business against an inferior opponent, who also just so happens to be lacking one Mike Trout, Mariner Killer TM. It was a sight to behold!

Things looked a little dicey in the first game, and I can already hear you asking how things could get dicey in a 6-2 victory. Well, for starters, the game was 2-2 heading into the ninth, before the Mariners rattled off four unearned runs (thanks to some laughable – to say the least – Angels defense). It was yet another monster pitching matchup; what did Luis Castillo do to deserve going Gerrit Cole-Gerrit Cole-Shohei Ohtani in his first three Mariners starts?!

This one wasn’t quite as dominant for Castillo, but it was still pretty fucking good. He pitched Ohtani to a draw through six innings, and with our bullpen, I’ll take that all day. The offenses touched up both pitchers just a hair – as each gave up 2 runs – with Winker hitting a solo bomb in the first, and scoring on a Crawford single in the third. I will say that not only is it great to have a dominant guy like Castillo, but it’s a breath of fresh air to see someone so regularly go beyond 100 pitches in his starts. I’m used to being that Cinderella-esque magic number where starting pitchers turn back into pumpkins, but Castillo seems to be one of the few in all of Major League Baseball who is sort of bucking that trend.

As one might expect, the Mariners’ bullpen was rock solid through the final three frames. But, we did bring our A-Squad just to make sure: Castillo, Munoz, and Sewald. The Angels had … less than.

Cal Raleigh led off the ninth with a groundout. Sam Haggerty followed with a single. He ended up on second base after a ball got away from the catcher, who blindly threw it into the outfield (thinking Haggerty was going to run, when he initially wasn’t). Then, Haggerty swiped third base with relative ease. Carlos Santana walked and Dylan Moore ran for him. That brought up Julio Rodriguez who lined a screamer up the middle that hit and bounced off the glove of the Angels’ second baseman. Haggerty was initially caught in a run-down, but no one from the Angels opted to cover home, so we got not only a free run out of the deal, but Moore made it all the way to third base, and J-Rod was safe at first. If that wasn’t enough insanity, Ty France followed with a grounder to the short stop. Once again, the runner at third (Moore) was running on contact. He should’ve been dead to rights at home, except the ball got knocked out of the catcher’s glove and everybody was safe (with J-Rod at third and France at second). Winker followed with a simple RBI groundout, then Haniger was intentionally walked. J.P. Crawford knocked an RBI single into the outfield to give the game its final score.

It was the perfect storm of Mariners speed being pesky, a lefty reliever with very hittable stuff, and manager incompetence leaving him out there about four batters too long. Phil Nevin, don’t listen to anyone who says anything to the contrary, we’re going to miss you when you’re gone.

If you thought 4 unearned runs in the ninth was cool, stick around for Tuesday’s game and our 5 earned runs in the ninth!

There’s nothing quite like going back-to-back with Castillo, then Ray. Ray went 6 innings, gave up 2 runs, and struck out 10. He left the game with a 3-2 lead, which of course, the bullpen carried the rest of the way. Let’s just get to that ninth inning straight away, because it was so good!

A Suarez walk was sandwiched between two outs before things got going. New backup catcher Casali singled to keep things going. Then, Adam Frazier ripped a triple down the right field line to make it 5-2. Haggerty singled to make it 6-2. And Julio homered to the opposite field to make it 8-2. That’s some efficient baseball killing right there.

Wednesday’s getaway game featured offensive firepower on both sides. Almost exclusively the top of the Angels’ lineup accounted for their 7 runs. You’d think with the way the Mariners have played throughout the year that 7 runs would be about 4 more than they needed. But, we jumped on ’em early and kept playing add-on to win it 11-7.

Cal Raleigh had 2 homers to lead all baseball catchers in homers (18 on the year and counting). Suarez hit his 20th bomb on the year, and Winker hit his 13th. Haniger had two hits and two runs scored, Crawford got on base four times (including 3 walks) and scored once. Santana had a 2-RBI single. Oddly enough, everyone except Julio got in on the action.

George Kirby did okay – 5.2 innings, 3 runs – and the bullpen picked the perfect game to get a little roughed up. Ohtani is as hot right now as I’ve ever seen anyone, so it’ll be good to get away from this team for a month or so. Maybe he’ll have cooled off or be shut down by the time we see them again in September.

We’re up to 65-54 on the year, and our road trip continues with three over the weekend against the lowly A’s. We’re officially the top Wild Card team at the moment, leading by three games in the win column over the Rays and Blue Jays (who are tied for the 2nd/3rd spots). Onward and upward!

The Mariners Really Blew It In Texas

With the Yankees and Astros behind us, with Julio Rodriguez back and mostly healthy, with our starting rotation solidified and our bullpen playing like a pack of Godzillas, we’re at the point in our season where we need to make some hay. THIS is where the Mariners are supposed to be overwhelming their opponents and solidifying our mark as a wild card team in the American League. There’s a real opportunity here to strangle the life out of the top wild card spot and leave the rest of the A.L. fighting for those other two lesser spots.

So, suffice it to say, every defeat to an inferior opponent from here on out is going to be met with freaking the fuck out from a starved fanbase desperate to break this streak of playoff-less seasons.

Losing to the Texas Rangers is especially demoralizing, because we’ve been beating them like red-headed step-children all year. Our victory on Friday marked 9 in a row. George Kirby looked solid – 5.2 innings, 2 runs – and the bullpen held it down from there. A Ty France ground-out scored one in the third, with a Julio 2-RBI single in the fourth giving us the lead for good. A J.P. sac fly gave us one insurance run in the 8th, and a Suarez double gave us two more in the 9th. 6-2 victory.

The series was there for the taking at that point! But, of course, we saw the return of Bad Marco Gonzales (along with, reportedly, some spotty defense behind him; you can’t have bad defenders with Marco on the mound, he relies on the guys behind him too much!). He went 5 innings and gave up 5 runs. To make matters worse, even though we knocked the Rangers’ starter out before he could complete the 5th inning, our offense could never get over the hump with a truly big inning. We were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position, and that certainly played a big part in it. 7-4 defeat.

The rubber match was even more annoying. Logan Gilbert bounced back and did what he needed to do, 6 innings, 3 runs. He kept us in the game; I’ll take it. Unfortunately, Matt Brash got two quick outs, then couldn’t complete his inning of work. We – for some reason – pitched to Adolis Garcia with a runner in scoring position and first base open, and of course he made us pay.

Yet, against some more mediocre pitching, the Mariners continued to flail with the bats. 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Ty France is in the slump of his life right now, and that’s not helping matters whatsoever. Also, another 0’fer day for Carlos Santana. Yeesh. 5-3 defeat.

The bad teams continue on our schedule, so let’s hope that was just a blip and not the start of a full-blown losing trend.

The Mariners Won Another Wildly Impressive Series Over The Yankees

The thing is, you can’t talk about this series victory over the Yankees without talking about the miserable 9-4 loss on Monday. Oh believe me, I don’t want to talk about it; I want to ignore it and move on! But, there’s cause for real alarm, because Logan Gilbert gave up a season-worst 7 runs in 4.0 innings of work.

That follows Gilbert’s previous-worst mark of 6 runs given up last week in New York against this very team (that was in 5.1 innings). It’s been a terrible month of August (13 runs in 9.1 innings over the two starts) and a concerning overall inflation of his numbers as the season has gone along. Now, MAYBE the Yankees just have his number; I guess we’ll see the rest of the way. But for a guy who had been the best and most consistent overall starter for the Mariners (at least, until Luis Castillo came to town), that’s not what you want to see from someone who’s slated to play an important role in this team’s playoff run. Especially when you consider he’s most likely to join the top two guys in any post-season rotation we roll out there. The Mariners need Gilbert to continue being great, is what I’m getting at.

One of the problems seems to be the fact that he’s so fastball-heavy, especially early in games and early in counts. The Yankees have jumped all over Gilbert, and I don’t see why others wouldn’t do the same.

Other than that, I don’t have much to say about Monday’s game. That’s because Tuesday’s game was so thrilling, that’s ALL I want to talk about, ever again, for the rest of my life!

Round 2 of the heavyweight matchup between Luis Castillo and Gerrit Cole was always going to be better and more impressive than Round 1 last week (where Cole gave up a 6-spot in the first inning, and we cruised to a 7-3 victory). But, even if you had high expectations for this one, the game exceeded it by leaps and bounds!

Cole was brilliant: 7 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts.

Castillo was even better: 8 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts.

There wasn’t anything even close to offensive output through seven innings. That’s mostly because whenever the Mariners managed to get to first base, they ran themselves out of the inning (a blunder by Frazier trying to turn a single into a double, and a caught stealing by Haggerty that wasn’t even close to succeeding). The Yanks almost served a knockout blow to Castillo in the eighth – as they had two runners on for the first time all day – but with his 110th pitch, Castillo was able to induce a ground ball to get out of the mini-jam.

Then, it was a battle of the bullpens. We got the best the Yankees could throw out there, and they got the best of what we had to offer. Andres Munoz not only struck out the side in the ninth, but he struck out the top of the order. Paul Sewald took care of the 10th (thanks to a nifty pick-off move as the ghost runner tried to steal third before he threw his pitch). Matt Festa looked a little erratic out there, but he generated a line-drive double play to second to once again eliminate the ghost runner, before allowing another line drive – this time to right field – that was caught before it hit the ground.

Enter Matt Brash – game still scoreless – for the 12th and 13th innings. In his very first at-bat, Brash snagged a groundball behind his back in some sort of miracle play that resulted in him forcing the ghost runner into a pickle (he would run himself out of the baseline for the first out), and as the batter tried to reach second base, he too ran himself out of the baseline for the double play. It was as absurd of a play as you’ll ever see, and I loved every second of it. Brash got a strikeout to get out of the inning.

In the bottom of the 12th, it looked like we might FINALLY end this thing. With one out, Haggerty (the ghost runner) advanced to third on a ground out from France. With two outs now, Haniger and Jake Lamb walked to load the bases, with Suarez at the plate. But, he couldn’t get that elusive base hit (indeed, the Mariners hadn’t gotten a single base hit since the 8th inning at this point), striking out swinging and breaking his bat in two with his knee as he walked back towards the dugout.

That seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. I should point out that at some point in extras, we pinch hit Santana for Kelenic, which necessitated the Mariners putting Haniger (the erstwhile DH) in right field. That meant we lost our DH, and Brash’s time was limited (since there’s no way you’re letting a pitcher bat in a game this important).

He was able to go back out there in the 13th inning though, and once again he worked some sort of voodoo to keep it scoreless. Right off the bat, we intentionally walked Aaron Judge, because there’s no way we’re letting that freak of nature beat us. Then, after a strikeout, Brash walked the bases loaded. Thankfully, he was able to get another strikeout, followed by a ground out, and that kept the game right where we needed it to be.

Cal Raleigh led off the 13th by singling to right; with Judge’s arm, there was no way Suarez (the ghost runner) was scoring there. With no outs, though, that’s a pretty enticing scenario! J.P. Crawford ended up tapping it back to the pitcher, but it advanced Raleigh to second. That led to an intentional walk of Sam Haggerty (the second time they’d done that to him in the extras), which brought up the Brash spot in the lineup. Luis Torrens – who has been having a God-awful season to date – pinch hit, which was risky in its own right, because he’s the only backup catcher we have right now. If he failed, that would’ve put a lot of pressure on Raleigh to stay healthy through the end of the game.

Thankfully, Torrens came through! He took strike one looking, swung at strike two (both pitches 97 miles per hour and nasty looking), and then put the third fastball into play, pushing it to right field for the game-winner. 1-0, an all-time classic. Absolutely unreal!

The M’s would be forgiven if there was a bit of a hangover on Wednesday afternoon’s getaway game. Once again, it was another amazing pitching matchup – Reigning Cy Young Award Winner Robbie Ray vs. All Star (and former Mariners reliever) Nestor Cortes – and while this one didn’t quite live up to the magic of Tuesday night, the game was still scoreless through five and a half innings.

Indeed, Cortes was spinning a no-hitter until the bottom of the sixth, when Sam Haggerty jerked a line drive home run off of the left field foul pole for a 1-0 lead. That would prove to be short-lived, as Ray – maxing out at 115 pitches – couldn’t quite get out of the seventh unscathed. It’s understandable – given how many relievers we had to use the night before – that Servais would try to squeeze an extra inning out of Ray (especially when he was dealing so hard through six), but he walked one too many guys, then paid the price with a 2-run homer to the Yankees’ #9 hitter.

That ended Ray’s day, but it didn’t end the Yankees’ seventh inning scoring spree. Aaron Judge (of course) saw a hanging slider from Penn Murfee, and did what he does with those pitches, depositing it to left for a solo homer and a 3-1 lead. I figured that was the ballgame, but boy was I wrong again!

In the bottom of the same inning, France reached second on a single and a passed ball; he would end up scoring on a Haniger RBI single to make the game 3-2. After a Suarez strikeout, Carlos Santana did what he does: hit go-ahead bombs. This one was jacked to right field for a 4-3 lead.

That lined us up for Diego Castillo’s return from the IL (a 1-2-3 eighth inning), followed by Sewald’s 15th save on the season. The best part: no Aaron Judge coming around in either of those innings to rain on our parade.

We have an off-day today, and boy is it well-earned! Those last two games felt like 40. It’ll be nice to go back on the road and (hopefully) beat up on the Texas Rangers some more.

Some quick bits of news that I don’t think I’ve mentioned on the blog: Abraham Toro was sent down to Tacoma earlier this week for sucking. Kyle Lewis was sent down to Tacoma more recently, also for sucking. Chris Flexen has been put into the bullpen, because it’s impractical to run a 6-man rotation out there with only 13 pitcher spots allowed. And, it looks like Julio Rodriguez is going to return soon (possibly as early as tomorrow).

In other news, Jake Lamb sucks (and was batting in the cleanup spot in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory for some God-foresaken reason; he went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts and a meaningless walk) and I don’t know why he’s here. Also, Jarred Kelenic sucks as well, and figures to get the demotion upon Julio’s return. Oh, and Jesse Winker had to leave Monday’s game with back spasms, so we’ll see how long he’s out for.

We’re so close to a lineup without any black holes, I can almost taste it!