The Mariners Fucked The Astros Right In Their Pig Anuses

Is there anything better than the Mariners being in first place while the Astros are in last place with the Angels, who just suffered yet another Mike Trout injury that’s going to cost him a significant chunk of the season? Whatever you’re doing, don’t stop, because I’m about to fucking come all over the place!

Would it have been ideal if the Mariners’ bullpen didn’t gag away Friday’s game, costing us the sweep? Of course. Who doesn’t enjoy a sweep down in Houston? Those fucking smug, self-satisfied fans can eat a thousand bags of shit-covered dicks for all I care. But, knowing they had a series win practically in the bag, only to lose the next two, kinda makes their tears of unfathomable sadness all the sweeter.

The only reason to be pissed off about Friday’s game is because it was the Astros. If that happened against any other team, I’d shrug my shoulders and say, “Listen, this bullpen has been better than I could’ve possibly imagined so far this season; they’re bound to drop one here and there.” You could’ve quibbled during the game, when a masterful George Kirby was pulled after 6 innings and only 88 pitches, but we later found out he’s been dealing with a nagging knee issue that’s going to limit him for a bit. You could’ve also lamented going to Trent Thornton in that spot, but the dude just spent the entire month of April having only given up 1 run in 10 appearances. He was on a very impressive streak; and that doesn’t explain why Gabe Speier – who relieved Thornton – also shit the bed, when he’s been bar none one of our best relievers period.

It’s a bummer, shit happens, and also Mariners? Score more than 3 runs for a change.

Saturday’s game was everything that the doctor ordered. 5-0 shutout. Logan Gilbert going 8 innings, giving up 2 hits and 4 walks, while striking out six. We got to Framber Valdez (5 runs in 5.1 innings), and we got to save our best relievers, with Saucedo mopping up the 9th.

The Chef’s Kiss happened on Sunday, though. We had a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth, before Bryce Miller gave up a 2-run bomb to close the gap. He limited the damage there, but we tried to squeeze a 7th inning out of him, only for him to give up a go-ahead (for the Astros) 2-run jack. Under usual circumstances, this would be a predictable fate, and the Astros would’ve gone on to win the game (maybe even blowing us out over the final couple innings).

Instead, we powered back with a game-tying RBI single by Urias in the 8th, followed by a Cal Raleigh right-handed solo homer in the 9th to take the lead. That got Munoz the win, after another 4-out appearance.

There’s been a remarkably interesting development with the offense, as Josh Rojas – one of the better stories of the early season, as far as hitting has been concerned – has simply continued to be a massive offensive presence. He’s slashing .360/.442/.587, with 4 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 homers. He’s been mostly hitting leadoff since J.P. Crawford went down, and he’s actually picked up his game! I can’t fathom any way this continues, because come on! He’s Josh Rojas! But, how crazy is it that with all the guys we thought might step up and be the surprise bat in this offense – Polanco, Garver, Raley, Canzone – it was actually Josh Fucking Rojas of all people?!

As I said, it won’t continue (I might’ve even jinxed the hell out of him by even mentioning his name here), but I also don’t expect him to totally fall flat on his face either. He might not be a .360 hitter, but he could level off around .270 or .280, which would still be really fucking good, especially since it looks like he’s going to be an everyday player going forward (even against left-handed pitchers, Scott Servais announced). Start him at third, play him in left field in a pinch, leave him right there at the top of the lineup (and maybe push Julio down in the lineup for a while, until he figures his swing out). Not a bad way to run a railroad.

This Is Not A Drill: The Mariners Swept The Astros In Houston

Well, then I guess there’s only one thing left to do

I can’t even begin to tell you how unlikely all of this is. We’re now 14 games over .500; remember the All Star Break? We were one game over .500, and needed to go 45-28 to get to 90 wins. Remember the next week after the All Star Break? Remember how we lost a series at home against the lowly Tigers, and were in the midst of breaking even against the Twins? Remember how – at that point – we’d dipped down to one game below .500? It’s insane to think of how this season has turned around in such a short period of time.

Now, all we need to do is go 21-17 to get to 90 wins. Not that 90 wins are any sort of guarantee. Might take 93-95 wins this year, with the way things are going in the American League. Regardless, as of this weekend, we are in the third wild card spot by half a game. Time will tell if this is our emotional high-water mark on the season, or if we’ll power through to the finish. But it’s been a lot more fun to watch this team over the last month.

It was especially fun to watch the Mariners this weekend, because fuck the Astros! As you know from my post on Friday, I didn’t have high hopes. It just seemed like our bullpen was taxed, our starters were iffy, and we were in their home (where we’ve rarely done well). I don’t think this weekend could’ve gone more perfectly.

On Friday, we just barely scraped by with a 2-0 victory. Bryce Miller had his good stuff going in this one, completing 6.1 innings, giving up only 2 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 2. Justin Topa – who was pretty fresh – bridged that gap to the ninth inning, where Andres Munoz (also pretty fresh) nailed down the save.

Offensively, this was the Julio Rodriguez Show. It’s been his show for the last week, and really since the All Star Break. He went 4/5 in this one with a solo homer in the third. Mike Ford had the other solo homer in the sixth off of J.P. France, who was otherwise very good.

On Saturday, Julio went 4/6 with 2 runs scored en route to a 10-3 Mariners victory over Framber Valdez (who went 5 innings, giving up 6 runs). It was largely a team effort in this one, as Teoscar Hernandez had a big game (3/5 with 2 RBI and a run), as did Dylan Moore (2 home runs, 3 RBI), Ty France (2 hits, 2 runs), Sam Haggerty (2 hits, including a homer), and Jose Caballero (1 hit, 1 walk, 1 run, and 1 fight instigated by the Astros battery, who just hate him).

Logan Gilbert gave us 6 innings of competent pitching in this one, giving up 2 runs on 8 hits and a walk, with 3 strikeouts. Thankfully, we kept adding on runs throughout, so we got away with our back-of-the-bullpen arms to finish this one. That ended up being pretty fortuitous, considering what happened on Sunday.

It looks like Emerson Hancock’s season might be done. He left the game after 2 innings with a right shoulder strain. He had a lat strain in 2022 that delayed the start of that season, so I would say this is pretty concerning. For him, anyway. The Mariners were all set to bring back Bryan Woo from the IL in this upcoming series in Chicago. Now, the intention was to go to a 6-man rotation for a spell, and that appears to be in jeopardy. But, maybe the time off was all Woo needed to at least get us to the finish line. Either that, or maybe we sprinkle in a spot start or two out of one of our AAA starters. It’s already almost September, so it’s not like the guys have a ton of starts remaining.

Anyway, on Sunday, the M’s had built up a 6-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third, when our bullpen was forced to take over. Unfortunately, that bullpen gave us quite a scare right off the bat. Tayler Saucedo had zilch, getting no outs, giving up 5 runs on 4 hits and a HBP. Of course, two of those runs came around to score by his successor, but that’s still his fault.

The rest of the bullpen was pretty much nails! Thorton ate up 1.2 innings (including getting us out of that Saucedo scrape with a lead intact), Brash went 1.1 innings, Campbell went 1 inning (giving up the Astros’ sixth run, after we’d already gotten our seventh), and Topa, Munoz, and Speier locked it down from there, keeping the score where it was, 7-6. As it happened, I was at Wild Waves, following along on my phone. I saw that Munoz did the 8th inning – taking out the top of the order – and was sure he’d be in there for the 2-inning save. Instead, Speier of all people got the job done, starting with Destroyer Of All Things Mariner Yordan Alvarez and striking him out. I’m glad Y.A. was relatively cool in this series; it’s nice not to see him homer against us literally every single day.

Julio doubled in the first in this one, before coming around to score. Otherwise, he was quiet, but if he’s not the Player of the Week, there’s some shenanigans going on. Canzone was 4/5 with a RBI and a run, Moore was also 4/5 with a RBI. Rojas had 2 hits and 2 runs; Suarez had a 2-run homer; and even Brian O’Keefe had a 2-run double (though he’s still yet to finish a game he’s started, with Cal pinch hitting late both times).

The Mariners got all the way to be within a half game of the Astros (tied in the loss column). On top of that, we have officially taken the season series against them! So, bring on the tiebreaker! Again, we’ll see if this is our high-water mark or not. We have three more against the White Sox starting tonight, before we get to go back home for what – ON PAPER – looks like the cheesiest of all homestands (3 vs. the Royals, 3 vs. the A’s), but we saw what happened the last time we faced the Royals. Off-days are starting to get scarce, but we rustled up a well-deserved one this Thursday.

On the plus side, we finally get J.P. Crawford back from his concussion. On the downside, we’ll see how long it takes him to get back in the groove.

The Mariners Completed An Exhausting Series Victory Over The Royals

Is anybody else wiped out by this 4-game series? I mean yeah, the Mariners had to fly from Seattle to Kansas City without an off-day and play in four hard-fought back-and-forth games, down to the bitter end each and every day, in sweltering heat, minus their short stop and regular backup catcher (Murphy, who landed on the IL this week), with just a pesky, free-swinging opponent that didn’t play for one minute like the bottom-feeders they are. But, as fans, I would argue it was even MORE exhausting! Yeah, I said it! I need a cigarette and a nap!

On the one hand, you hate to lose even one of those games against a team like the Royals, who are pretty clearly the second-worst team in the entire MLB, in a tier with only the A’s as the absolute beans of baseball. But, on the other hand, I think I’m just relieved we won the three we did, and didn’t endure an insufferable split. Following our recent scorching hot stretch by blowing two games against the Orioles, and then treading water against KC would’ve been a nightmare, if not totally on brand for the Mariners.

Still … could’ve had the sweep. The M’s were three outs away from one of the most impressive potential comeback victories of the year, with ostensibly their best reliever on the mound starting a clean 9th inning with a 1-run lead. That’s the table that was set on Monday, after an absolutely abysmal first 7 innings of that game, where we were no-hit through most of them. We headed into the top of the eighth nursing our wounds down 5-0, when finally the offense got things going.

With one out, Mike Ford doubled to right and Dylan Moore reached on a HBP. Josh Rojas singled sharply to load the bases for Julio Rodriguez, who mashed a double to left to clear them. After a J-Rod steal of third, Suarez singled him home to make it 5-4, before Raleigh and Canzone struck out to end it.

No matter, with two on and two out in the top of the ninth, Rojas singled to tie the game, and Julio singled to take the lead. What a reckoning! If only …

All you can say is that Brash didn’t have it. He gave up three hits, managed only one out, and even that was a sac fly to tie the game. I’m hard-pressed to say he was even overworked in that one; sure, he pitched the night before against the Orioles, but that was coming off of three days off.

As for Tuesday’s 10-8 victory in ten innings, I don’t even know what to tell you. I missed the whole thing, as full disclosure, I was out in the sweltering heat sweating my way through engagement photos; I hope our photographer can photoshop out my perspiration. I’m kinda glad I didn’t have to sit through the nonsense of this game though.

Not to be out-done by the Royals gagging away a 5-run lead the previous day, the M’s decided it would be fun to somehow send a game that was once 7-0 into extra innings. We scored those 7 runs in the fourth, with a massive deluge of hitting prowess. Suarez homered, France homered, Cal walked and Teoscar homered. Caballero doubled in a run, then Rojas homered him in. I don’t know if there are many things I love more in baseball than when my team fully bats around; it’s always a tremendous amount of fun!

Unfortunately, Emerson Hancock had a bit of a crushing rookie moment. He was more or less cruising through two outs in the fifth inning, but then gave them 5 runs back, including a grand slam that I don’t know how didn’t end his day right then and there. 5 of his 9 hits given up were in that inning; I don’t know if he got tired, or if the Royals just figured him out in their second and third time through the order. I’m not inclined to freak out about the results (again, I wasn’t able to witness the actual stuff), because the Royals kind of did that to all of our starters in this series. Maybe not in such a massive clump like that, but no one was safe.

Certainly not our bullpen! We even went so far as to add on an insurance run in the seventh with another Teoscar RBI (he was 5 for 5 on the day with a homer, a double, and 3 RBI) to make it 8-5, but Andres Munoz – on the heels of back-to-back late-game suck-jobs against the Orioles – gave up a whopping 3 unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth to send this to extras. Luckily, he was bailed out by Ty France with his 2-RBI single, and we won 10-8.

Wednesday’s victory I want to say was less frustrating, but how can I? The Royals went with a de facto bullpen day, gave us 4 runs in the first two innings, with Luis Castillo on the mound; how WASN’T that a cake walk?! Well, with the bullpen so taxed over the last few days, Castillo was forced to get us 7 innings if we wanted to survive this series. That meant pitching more to contact – with less focus on strikeouts – to keep his pitch count down. Quite frankly, he didn’t have his best stuff, and for whatever reason, when he managed to throw a good pitch out of the zone, they were hitting them fair.

Anyway, the offense went into hibernation from the third through the seventh innings. Well, I can’t say that’s totally accurate; we were getting guys on base, but not hitting them in (finishing a disrespectful 4/15 with RISP, with 13 LOB). That gave the Royals enough time to tie the game 4-4 heading into the eighth, when we finally woke up. We didn’t quite get the big hit we needed, but Teoscar hit a medium foul ball to right field and the resultant throw just BARELY missed the sliding Dylan Moore. For good measure, Julio knocked in another run in the ninth to give us some extra cushion (his 4th hit and 2nd RBI of the day), which was absolutely necessary since Brash gave up a solo homer before recording just his third save of the season.

To wrap it all up, we had Kirby going yesterday morning, coming off of his 9 innings of shutout ball. Even HE had trouble with this lineup, ultimately giving them 4 runs in 6 innings of work. Three of those runs came in the sixth inning, taking a 2-1 lead and turning it into a 4-2 deficit. It all started to feel a little hopeless until the eighth, when Julio mashed a 3-run bomb to give us the lead. Cal hit a pinch hit bomb in the top of the ninth, and this time Brash worked a clean bottom half to get his fourth save.

What does this all mean? Well, for starters, I can’t envision a scenario where Brash pitches tonight, since he’s gone 4 games in 5 days, all of them extremely high-leverage. Campbell and Thornton helped mop up Thursday’s in-between later innings, so that should free up the rest of our (better) bullpen members to take the reins.

But, I dunno. That series looked like we played 8 games in 4 days. No rest, no easy ones, constantly battling for nine and sometimes nine-plus innings. Now, we gotta go to Houston to play a team that’s gone 20-11 since the All Star Break? A team that’s still 3.5 games up on us, that’s had our number (especially in their home ball park) for ages now, without our top two starters (Castillo and Kirby). I just can’t envision a scenario where we win this series. We likely won’t even win a game! J.P. France dominated us earlier this year, and Framber Valdez has been a force against us (and everyone in baseball). The only guy we’ve had success against – Hunter Brown – goes up against Emerson Hancock, who I have to imagine is going to struggle mightily in this ballpark, against that offense.

Don’t forget, the Astros have four guys who are slugging well over .500, with Alex Bregman to boot, who always gives us fits.

This is NOT the time you want to play the Astros. That doesn’t even mention how we’re riding a 3-game winning streak; you want to know the best cure for that? The best cure for Mariners fan excitement? Play a series down in Houston and rant and rave while getting swept and it’s not even particularly close. And oh by the way, it’s not even a given that we’ll have J.P. Crawford back yet, as he still needs to play at least one rehab game in Everett.

Weather’s still nice, folks. I’d recommend making other weekend plans. I’ve got a Paul Reiser stand up comedy show in Tacoma on Saturday night, and a trip to Wild Waves on the agenda for Sunday morning. I’ll see y’all there!

A Bummer Of A Mariners Series In Houston Could’ve Been Worse

We didn’t get swept! That’s something, anyway. Of course, losing the two games the way we lost them was pretty demoralizing, and it took us 11 innings to get that lone win, but I’ll take what I can get.

The Mariners lost 12-3 on Friday, giving up all of those runs in the first five innings. Yusei Kikuchi had easily his worst game of the season, 2.2 innings, giving up 7 runs. It’s a shame for him that he didn’t get to appear in the All Star Game this year, because I don’t know if he’ll ever get a chance again. Through July 1st – just before he was named to the All Star team – he was 6-3 and had a 3.18 ERA. Since then, he’s had two Quality Starts out of eight. His last two appearances in particular have been pretty brutal. We’re in the stretch run here! We need to win every game we can possibly win! He failed to go five innings against the Blue Jays, then couldn’t even make it through three against the Astros (his overall record has fallen to 7-7). The Mariners have a HUGE decision to make on Kikuchi after this season, whether or not they pick up his remaining option years. Before the All Star Break, I would’ve said it’s a no-brainier to keep him around. But, if he continues to lay eggs the rest of this season, I don’t think it’s smart to sign on for more at that salary. If he can’t handle THIS pressure, what makes you think he’d handle the pressure of being on a team in an actual pennant race (which is our stated goal) in the next 2-3 years?

Kikuchi wasn’t the only bad thing about Friday’s game. Wyatt Mills (a guy presumably only up here to eat innings in these very types of situations) gave up 3 runs in 1.1 innings of work (he has an ERA over 10 in his 10 appearances). Erik Swanson continued his slide by giving up another 2 runs in his 1 inning of work (looking much more like the Erik Swanson we’ve been used to the last couple years). The only pitching bright spot on Friday was Yohan Ramirez’s two innings of shutout ball, striking out 4.

The offense didn’t stand a chance, obviously. Ty France had 3 hits (including a solo homer). Kyle Seager had a solo homer, and Abraham Toro had an RBI single.

If you thought 12-3 was bad, wait until you get a load of 15-1!

Logan Gilbert had to wear this one. 4.2 innings, 9 runs on 8 hits (including 2 homers) and a walk, with 5 strikeouts. Obviously, he’s in a very different point of his Major League career than Kikuchi, but he’s nevertheless been just as up-and-down in his rookie campaign. He just needs to work, to refine his breaking pitches, and to get used to the talent at this level. I think he’ll be fine, but it would be encouraging for him to take a step or two in his development over the next few weeks. We need him to be a foundational starter for this team in 2022 and beyond.

Thankfully, we were able to save the rest of the bullpen by calling up Robert Dugger and getting him to mop up the remaining 3.1 innings. He, nevertheless, gave up 6 more runs and was immediately DFA’d before Sunday’s game.

The only run for the Mariners came on a Haniger solo homer in the sixth.

For all of the pointlessness of the first two games, Sunday’s was quite a thriller!

Houston got two runs off of Tyler Anderson in the second inning, but that was it, as Anderson went 5.1 innings to at least give us a chance. The bullpen was pretty lights out from there. Joe Smith closed out the sixth. Anthony Misiewicz got four outs in a nice comeback for him. Steckenrider got five outs, and Paul Sewald had the greatest inning of relief I’ve seen all year! More on that in a moment.

The Astros starter, Framber Valdez, went 7 shutout innings, giving up only 3 hits and a walk, striking out 6. This one looked grim, especially with Kendall Graveman taking the hill in the 8th. BUT, we scratched a run off of the ex-Mariner to make the game 2-1 in the ninth inning. It’s only the second run he’s given up since we traded him over there at the deadline, but the first time he actually contributed to an Astros loss. That run meant a lot when Ty France hit the game-tying solo homer in the ninth to eventually send this game to extras.

The M’s botched their chance in the 10th, as Torrens – the ghost runner – got taken out at third base on a running error with the ball being hit to the short stop. Cal Raleigh’s double managed to get Fraley to third, but would’ve scored Torrens had he done his job. J.P. Crawford struck out to end the threat, in spite of some questionable umpiring that went his way.

Sewald came in to pitch the 10th and immediately gave up a single to Altuve to put runners on the corners. We intentionally walked Michael Brantley to load ’em up and get a play at any base. Sewald struck out Correa looking (on yet another terrible call by the home plate ump) for the first out, then overpowered the next guy at the top of the zone to get another strikeout. That brought up Yuli Gurriel, a notorious Mariners killer. He wasn’t biting on the slider, but fouled off two high fastballs to make the count even. Sewald threw a perfect slider on the low-and-outside corner for what should’ve been strike three, but the umpire AGAIN blew the call. The count was full, with Gurriel fouling off the next two fastballs, before swinging through the last one – the 8th pitch of the at-bat – to end the inning. What a performance!

In the top of the 11th, Haniger walked before Ty France hit a single the opposite way to take a 3-2 lead. Kyle Seager promptly extended the lead to 6-2 with a 3-run home run, his 29th of the season (his career high is 30). It turns out, we needed all of these runs, because now we were getting back into the dregs of our bullpen.

Keynan Middleton started the bottom of the 11th, getting a first-pitch groundout to Seager. He then gave up a first-pitch single to the next guy to make it 6-3. The bases ended up loaded after the next two guys singled and walked respectively (the walk, of course, being helped greatly by a CLEAR strike being called Ball 4). Servais had to pull Middleton, who clearly didn’t have it. The only other alternative was Yohan Ramirez, who struck out Altuve on a nasty slider at the bottom of the zone. Michael Brantley – the leading hitter in the American League heading into the game – lined out to center to end it.

This was the first save of the season for Ramirez – the Rule 5 guy we took from the Astros prior to the 2020 season – and it’s nice to see him starting to develop into someone we might be able to trust in higher leverage situations. His problem has always been his control; he has a live fastball and a nasty slider. If he can rein it in a little bit, that’s another diamond in the rough reliever who could be good for us for a good, long time (or, at the very least, a nice little trade chip in the offseason).

Now, we’re off to Oakland for a quick 2-game series. We’re three games behind them in the standings, so it would be nice to get the series win here.