The Mariners Had The Worst Weekend Possible

That’s a harsh way to look at a 4-game series where the Mariners won 3 games, especially against a team that had so thoroughly owned us this season (we finished 4-9 against the Rangers; essentially the story of our year), but that’s what you get when you dick around all month, ruining all the momentum you had in a torrid August.

The Mariners finished 11-17 in September. Can’t do that. Not if you want to make noise in the playoffs.

Anyway, nothing mattered this weekend, because the Astros swept the Diamondbacks. We could’ve swept Texas and we’d still be in the same place we are right now: out of the playoffs. What makes matters worse is that we HAD a chance to prevent the Astros from winning the division. All we needed to do was lose in the finale on Sunday. Instead, we somehow clung to a 1-0 victory, thereby ensuring that the reigning champs have this week to reset their rotation, rest their bullpen, and get nice and ready for another dominant playoff run.


Our season technically ended Saturday night. That just so happened to be the game me and my friends were going to. It’s the annual Oktoberfest game, where they have a give-away of a special Oktoberfest beer stein or boot or whatever they decide to come up with. By my count, I’ve gone six times so far; it’s the best give-away the Mariners do all year. For the price of your ticket, you get the stein or boot or whatever, AND you get a voucher for one free drink. Can’t beat it!

Unfortunately, I should’ve known I was going to be in for an annoying day when I got an email that morning from the Mariners saying our steins were delayed. I don’t know how that happens when you know about it all fucking year, but there you go. I ended up having a pretty nice day anyway, but that had everything to do with me being with my lovely fiance and my terrific friends (and nothing to do with the product on the field – another inept 6-1 loss – nor the product they were selling in the stadium).

Luis Castillo couldn’t get out of the third inning, at least not without giving up 5 walks, 5 hits, and 4 runs. That’s back-to-back pisspoor outings from our “ace” against our two direct rivals for the division. One could argue, if he was his usual dominant self in these final two games against the Astros and Rangers, we’d be division champs right now. Or, at the very least, in the playoffs. Of course, it also didn’t help that the offense could only muster a single run in each of those contests, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Mariners were trying something a little different with their 200-level concessions (I didn’t scout the other levels, but I’m sure this wasn’t the only spot), where they sell the hot dogs and sodas and whatnot. They had all the hot food sitting out, presumably under a heat lamp. So, you grab what you want (in my case, two of those junior dogs and a pretzel), take them to the check-out, order your drink and pay. Made things a lot faster! But, the hot dogs were cold and the bun tasted a bit stale. Also, I’m staying away from those pretzels from now on; they aren’t great.

Probably the most annoying thing was the fact that they weren’t taking our free drink vouchers that came with the give-away. You’d think we just drew a Mariners logo on a piece of paper and were trying to pass it off as a coupon! We went to the bar area in the 200-level and they turned us away, saying you had to get the drinks from a concessions stand. So, we went to a place that had the hard ciders we wanted – in this case, the pasta station – and they started to turn us away too. Luckily, we were standing right behind someone higher up who works for the Mariners, and they were able to text someone in charge. But, if they weren’t standing right there at that exact moment, we’d probably still be looking for a place to take these damn things!

I’ve never had this much trouble with an Oktoberfest. It was honestly really disappointing. I invited a bunch of people who’d never been to an Oktoberfest Mariners game, and it’s just a shame that there had to be so many snags.

After Saturday’s game, Cal Raleigh came out and admonished the Mariners for not spending enough, and not bringing in enough quality players to fill out this roster. HE SPEAKS FOR ALL OF US, MARINERS!!! The team made him apologize on Sunday morning, but he still got his point across, and J.P. Crawford (as well as others) backed him up after the game Sunday afternoon.

You can’t field a playoff team with the likes of Haggerty, Ford, Caballero, Canzone, Rojas, and Dylan Moore taking up everyday at-bats. Not when Ty France, Jarred Kelenic, Eugenio Suarez, and Teoscar Hernandez are so fucking streaky (to be kind; some of them were outright disasterous). Second base, DH, and left field were fucking black holes YET AGAIN. As was backup catcher after Tom Murphy went down, but what else is new? When you’re already going super-cheap on your bullpen arms – and you’ve got a ton of cost-controlled starters – it’s fucking ridiculous that this team pinches pennies the way it does. Trying to get by with the likes of A.J. Pollock, Kolten Wong, and Tommy La Stella; you should be FUCKING ASHAMED of yourselves, Mariners front office!

I don’t know how to feel looking ahead to next year. On the one hand, I guess we have to like where the rotation sits. Castillo, Gilbert, and Kirby should all be full go’s. Miller and Woo should have increased workloads. Ray will be back. You have to think we’re taking whatever we can get in trade for Marco. But, then there’s the bullpen we have to find a way to reload (presumably with more retreads that we hope we can fix).

It’ll ultimately come down to what we can do to improve the offense. I guess we like J.P., Julio, and Cal. Suarez probably isn’t going anywhere. J.P. said he’s taking Ty France with him to Driveline to fix his swing, but will he even be around after what’s become of his Major League career? Teoscar is a free agent; maybe we put a qualifying offer on him and keep him for one more go-around. Kelenic … we’ll see. We still need a boost at second base, and DH is still a nothing-burger. And the bench … ye gods.

Nobody wants to come here and hit in our stadium. That means trades. No one in the minors is ready for a call-up just yet. Our best prospects will be heading to AA – at best – in 2024. They won’t be ready until 2025 at the earliest. Is it another year just like this one? Or do we flush our farm to try to win now? Will that even bring in enough to put us over the top?

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, compared to how we felt at this time last year. This might be the most important offseason we’ve ever seen around these parts. And, for the first time since the Jackie Z era, I’m having my doubts that we have the management in place to get it done.

As usual, the common denominator is ownership. It’s all on them. So, I guess we’re fucked.

The Mariners Just Blew Their Season Once Again At The Hands Of The Astros

This Mariners season is swirling down a flushed toilet bowl like so many mushy turds enveloped in wadded up toilet paper and a soupçon of piss. What was once a massive fucking disappointment – and ever-so-briefly a crowning achievement – has returned to being what is this franchise’s destiny: The Same Ol’ Mariners.

With our season in our hands, we lost game one against the Astros 5-1. It wasn’t even as close as the score indicates. Justin Verlander – who we’ve had SOME success against a time or two – went out there and almost threw a complete game shutout. To combat that, we had our own ace, Luis Castillo, who was pretty fucking terrible when we needed him the most (6 innings, 5 runs).

With our backs against the wall, we won game two against the Astros 6-2. It was everything this team has been lacking all fucking month. George Kirby went 6 shutout innings. We jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the third, added on three more in the fifth, and got some timely insurance in the eighth thanks to a Ty France home run. Raise your hand if you can remember the previous time he hit a homer, because I sure as shit forgot!

But, this series was a microcosm of some VERY questionable decision-making by Scott Servais. First, he pulled Kirby at 84 pitches, even though we had a 5-0 lead. That’s back-to-back-to-back starts with his pitch count in the 80’s after the big stink with him complaining about going over 100 (and then immediately walking it back). Is this giving the baby his bottle? Or, was he legitimately tiring after 80? Servais put in Topa, and yanked him after three batters when it was obvious he didn’t have it (smart). But, then he proceeded to throw Brash out there for 2 innings, and roll with Munoz in the ninth even though it wasn’t a save situation. Odd.

What’s even worse has been his lineup construction lately. The Mariners don’t have an ideal roster of hitters, but Servais seems to be committed to this lefty/righty thing, and also going quickly to pinch hitters in the middle innings as soon as a different-handed reliever is brought in. This series showed us a perfect example of how this can go terribly.

Tuesday probably featured our ideal lineup: J.P., Julio, Cal, Teo, Kelenic, Suarez, Ford (DH), France, and Rojas. We scored 6 runs, won a game, let’s go.

Wednesday featured a lefty by Houston, which meant this: J.P., Julio, Suarez, Teo, Moore, France, Cal, Haggerty, Caballero. We scored 3 runs, lost a game, fuck me.

I would’ve told you this team has no business playing Haggerty or Caballero ever again. I would’ve told you batting Ty France higher than 8th is a fool’s errand. I even would’ve told you that Dylan Moore was as cold as he’s ever been this month. I might have been wrong about Moore – since he hit two blistering balls in his first two at-bats – but what does Servais do? He pulls Moore for Kelenic after those two at-bats, even though there were plenty of other alternative people for Kelenic to pinch hit for (and even though Kelenic hasn’t done much more than walk and hit singles since his return from the IL). It’s goofy! I’ve always liked Servais and thought he made smart decisions; or, at least, decisions you could defend. But, I can’t defend this. Before, he always seemed to get the best out of his players. Now, he’s like an uncoordinated child tossed into the deep end of a pool, flailing as he tries to stay afloat.

Of course, what does it matter when Bryce Miller can’t get beyond the fourth inning, having given up a 4-spot on two massive homers. We got it to 4-3 in the bottom half of that inning, but they tacked on four more runs to make it an 8-3 final. Julio struck out four times, was taunted with homophobic slurs by their relief pitcher, causing the benches to empty. That’s about as exciting as this game got. Showing no heart or backbone whatsoever, the Mariners did nothing with that bit of fuel for the fire.

Now, we’re 4 games behind Texas with 4 games to go (against Texas). We can’t win the division, unless we come up with some fakakta 3-way tie with the Astros, which would require us to beat the Rangers 4 straight times. We’ve beaten the Rangers exactly 1 time this year, so that doesn’t seem extremely likely. And, now, our wild card chances are on life support. We’re 1.5 games behind the Astros, making tonight’s game a must-win just to get it to 1 game. But, we don’t have any control over our destiny. We need the Astros to lose at least once to the Diamondbacks (spoiler alert: they won’t), or we need the Blue Jays to lose at least twice to the Yankees/Rays. And, again, that’s the bare minimum, which would also necessitate us beating the Rangers four straight times, which is something we absolutely will not do.

Shit, we probably won’t win more than 1 game this weekend. What a terrible way for a season to go. This whole year – minus a month and change – has been fucking miserable. But also REALLY fucking predictable. Coming out of a magical 2022 season, expectations sky high, OF COURSE the Mariners are going to blow it in the most agonizing way possible. They’re going to get off to a terrible start, they’re going to go on a crazy run where they win the most games in any single month in franchise history, and just when our hopes are at their peak, they’re going to throw this fucking diarrhea festival in the month of September at us to totally crush our spirits. Taking it all the way down to the very last weekend, for maximum agony, while losing to two of the most loathesome teams on the planet.

Four more days. Soak it in. It’s almost over.

The Mariners Stopped The Bleeding With A Series Win Over The Angels

That 10-game road trip felt like a month, didn’t it? It’s a good thing literally all the good players on the Angels are hurt. But, even then … couldn’t get the sweep.

Monday’s 8-5 loss was as irritating as every other loss we’ve had recently. We took a 3-0 lead in the first, gave it all back by the fourth. The game remained tied at 3-3 until the ninth, when the Mariners had a chance to walk it off. Three straight sharp singles loaded the bases with nobody out and Kelenic coming to the plate. He promptly struck out. Dylan Moore grounded into a fielder’s choice with the infield pulled in. Then, Canzone rolled over to first base to send it to extras.

The Angels hit a 2-run bomb in the top of the 10th to take a lead, but miraculously, Julio tied it with a 2-run bomb of his own in the bottom half. But, then the wheels came off in the 11th, as the Angels added three more to put it out of reach. We ended 3/12 with RISP, and left with more questions than answers from a bullpen that’s been repeatedly failing us in the later innings. I don’t know what the analytics say, but anecdotally, this group has been ass in the highest-leverage situations (unlike in previous years, when maybe we were luckier than we should’ve been). More and more, I think we’re going to point to the loss of Paul Sewald as the reason why this team fails to go all the way. Canzone sure hasn’t done much, and Rojas has once again cooled off considerably after a hot streak.

Turning things around, the Mariners executed a much-needed 8-0 victory on Tuesday. Bryan Woo looked outstanding (5.2 innings of 4-hit ball with 8 strikeouts), and we managed to close it out with Eduard Bazardo eating up 2.1 innings, and Dominic Leone finishing the ninth. THIS is the role those two were meant to fill; unfortunately, games haven’t been this out-of-reach lately to utilize them properly.

We had great games from Julio and J.P., as well as much-needed sparks from Suarez, France, and Moore. There hasn’t been a lot of production of late from the bottom of our order. Guys like Haggerty, Ford, Canzone, Rojas, Caballero, and O’Keefe have all been balls for the better part of a month and a half. It would be nice if we can get a blistering streak out of someone like Moore to fill that void. Also, it was nice to see Luis Torrens return and hit a rather meaningless double late in the game. O’Keefe is NOT a Major Leaguer, and Tom Murphy isn’t coming back anytime soon (if ever). We can’t afford to play Cal literally every single game the rest of the way.

On Wednesday, we got back to basics with some good ol’ fashioned Mariners baseball, in a 3-2 victory where Castillo pitched another Quality Start (6 innings, 2 runs, 3 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts), and the bullpen was nails from there (Topa, Brash, and Munoz locking it down). All of the scoring was completed by the end of the fifth inning, so it really was a lot of pressure pitching down the stretch. Good to see, after so much shakiness lately.

That caps off the Angels for 2023. We went 8-5, which is pretty appropriate. We’re 8-2 against the Astros, and 9-1 against Oakland, so let’s hope we can keep beating those teams. For what it’s worth, we’re 1-5 against Texas, making the seven times we see them in the last 10 games vitally important. Can we go 6-1 against them? Seems unlikely, but will be necessary if we hope to win the A.L. West.

We have this weekend series with the Dodgers coming up, before we close out against the remaining divisional opponents. We are 81-65, a half-game behind the Rangers (in the loss column), with them playing in Toronto today. We’re 1.5 games behind the Astros for the division (one in the loss column, two in the win column), and they’re off today as well.

We are currently one full game ahead of Toronto for the third wild card. The Blue Jays have lost three straight against the Rangers in this series, which is honestly pretty good for us, because they were on a massive hot streak before that (albeit, against a lot of the same bad teams we played in August). Toronto has 6 against the Yankees, 3 against the Red Sox (both have fallen WAY out of playoff contention), and 6 against the mighty Rays. We will be rooting heavily for the Rays over the next couple weeks.

So, that’s it. There are three teams all within a game and a half of one another for two wild card spots, and there are three teams all within a game and a half of the A.L. West. Win the west, earn a first round BYE, and you’re able to set your rotation and rest your overworked bullpen. Win the second wild card, and you “earn” a series against either the Rays or Orioles in their home stadium. Win the third wild card, and you get the privilege of facing the lowly Twins (who are currently 7.5 games up on the Guardians).

This is very stressful! I sure hope the Mariners do well!

I should point out – since it’s been a while where this has been a topic of conversation – that the Mariners have improved their record in 1-run games to 23-25. That is a mighty jump from where it was pre-August! We are, however, 6-13 in extra innings games, which has been an absurd drain on our emotions. Wouldn’t mind seeing that go in the positive direction asap.

Also, Paul Sewald Update: after a bad blown save early, he’s been pretty great. He had 8 consecutive scoreless appearances before his next blown save. He’s since gone 5 for 5 in save appearances in September. Right now, the Diamondbacks are tied for the third wild card spot (with two more teams right on their heels).

The Mariners Wrapped Up A Limp, Syphilitic Trade Deadline By Trading For A DFA’d Reliever

Meanwhile, the Astros re-acquired Justin Verlander, and pretty much everyone in the playoff race got better than the Seattle Mariners.

I don’t even know what to say. I’m flabbergasted. I can’t comprehend what it is the Mariners are doing. For anyone wondering, here’s the total breakdown:

  • Kolten Wong (2B) DFA’d by Mariners after being unable to find a trade partner
  • Eduard Bazardo (RP) acquired from Baltimore after being DFA’d, for minor leaguer Logan Rinehart; he’ll start out in Tacoma for now
  • PTBNL or Cash acquired from San Francisco for A.J. Pollock and minor league nobody Mark Mathias (and also cash)
  • Josh Rojas (UTIL), Dominic Canzone (OF), and Ryan Bliss (INF) acquired from Arizona for Paul Sewald
  • Trent Thornton (RP) acquired from Toronto after being DFA’d, for minor leaguer Mason McCoy

Thornton joined the club last night, along with Rojas and Canzone. Wong and Pollock being given the ax were the easiest moves of the week and the team gets no credit for moving on. Rojas is a player on the decline at this point, and platooning him with Caballero seems like a nightmare. It also seems like Dylan Moore had been playing extremely well of late, and I wonder where he’s been after his 2-homer game.

Replacing Sewald with these nothing relievers seems like a total slap in the face. It’s discouraging to say the least that the majority of the young guys we’ve called up so far this season have been kind of disasterous, but the bullpen REALLY doesn’t feel like the strength it’s been the last couple years.

Not for nothing, but this would’ve been a prime opportunity to re-acquire Kendall Graveman. I’m just saying.

What you’re really telling me with this trade deadline is it all boils down to one guy: Canzone. The relievers are meaningless, but also probably bad. The utility guy is a utility guy, who probably isn’t any better than Moore or Haggerty (or Wong for that matter). The minor leaguer won’t be ready for a year or two, if ever. So, we’re banking this whole trade deadline on Canzone, a guy just breaking into the Major Leagues, who is a coin flip at best. Sure, he’s hit at every minor league level, but that means nothing, especially once you get called up to play in Seattle. See: Abraham Toro.

If we were going to shoot our wad on one guy, why didn’t we just trade Paul Sewald for one guy? One ESTABLISHED guy who could actually make an impact immediately and down the line?

Also, what does this mean for next year? Are you telling me the Mariners are going to give Teoscar a qualifying offer? We’re going to bring him back? Then what? Is he going to DH? What if Canzone – by the grace of all that is holy – actually pans out? It’s him and Kelenic and Julio? I guess that’s a good problem to have, but if he doesn’t pan out, then we’re absolutely no better than we were this time last week. In fact, we’re considerably worse. Because I have to believe there’s a better than good chance that Teoscar walks after this season, to try to re-establish his value in a more hitter-friendly environment. We get a whatever draft pick for giving him the qualifying offer, and that’s it, huh? That’s better than whoever we could’ve gotten in a trade right now?

The other thing you’re telling me is that you’re passing the blame fully on the players. I understand they get a share of the blame. They have to. Too many of our “core” guys have underperformed at the same time. But, the organization is totally passing the buck on their role in this whole mess. Bringing in Wong and Pollock and La Stella and Hernandez. Every offseason move last year was a FUCKING DISASTER! None of those guys panned out. All but one were actively worse than a replacement-level player, and Teoscar certainly wasn’t the kind of middle-of-the-order hitter we desperately needed.

So, what did we do? Traded for a bunch of replacement-level players. Great.

The dirty little secret here is the Mariners are doing the same thing they did LAST time Shohei Ohtani was up for bids: they’re clearing the decks financially, in order to get beaten by some other team that’s going to blow him away with an insane offer. Then, once we’ve lost that race, we’re going to have no one else we’re able to aquire to fill that giant void.

What a fucking shitshow. That’s the Mariners for ya. We got who we got and we’re going to die with what they’re not giving us at the plate. Fun.

Jarred Kelenic Breaking His Foot By Kicking A Water Cooler Is The 2023 Mariners Season In A Nutshell

I’m not mad at Jarred Kelenic for breaking his foot in a fit of frustration, just like I’m not mad at the Seattle Mariners for only managing a 2-2 split with the Twins this week. It is what it is. I’ve already given up on the 2023 season, and I suggest the organization does the same, by being sellers at the trade deadline.

And believe me, I understand the instinct to take out your rage on an inanimate object. This Mariners team makes me want to punch a hole through my television. It makes me want to scream into a pillow. It makes me want to throw my remote against a wall and decapitate my bobbleheads one by one.

But, I think this past week was the last time to feel any of that. If you haven’t come to the conclusion that a .500 Mariners team almost 100 games into the season isn’t good enough to suddenly transport itself into the playoffs by October, then I don’t know what else to tell you that your eyes haven’t seen all year long. This team is NOT good. It’s not bad, necessarily, but that’s how you get to be 48-48, right? Sometimes you’re shit, sometimes you’re the best team on the fucking planet.

There’s no switch in baseball that you can turn on and magically become what you were always meant to be. Baseball is the great equalizer. Over time, it shows you who you are, warts and all. Sometimes, you’re able to skate by on an unsustainable amount of good luck in close games, but eventually all the mediocre teams are weeded out and summarily destroyed, frauds that they are.

I was happy to hear – on the same day I posted about the Mariners being sellers at the trade deadline – that it looks like my dream will come to fruition. At the very least, I don’t see any blockbuster deals for a Luis Castillo-type coming our way anytime soon. I think the tea leaves are starting to blow the way I want them to with the players I mentioned getting rid of. I mean, how does Ty France fall to 7th in the batting lineup if he’s meant to be here through next year?

Of course, also on the same day I published that post, Kelenic’s injury came to light and he was put on the IL (presumably for the rest of the season, though I don’t know how long a fractured foot is supposed to keep you out), AND the Mariners won impressively to salvage a series split. It’s baseball, nothing makes sense.

The first game on Monday was encouraging enough; a 7-6 Mariners victory. Logan Gilbert gutted his way through 5 innings, limiting the damage to 2 runs. It took waiting until the fifth inning, but the M’s put up more than enough runs in those middle innings to win the game, taking a 7-3 lead heading into the ninth (Kelenic had 2 hits and 2 RBI, Suarez had the same). But, then Ty Adcock got bashed around for a 3-run homer in the 9th to give the game its final score, necessitating Paul Sewald coming in to get the final out.

That 9th inning was a harbinger for things to come, as we lost 10-3 on Tuesday. Bryan Woo laid a total egg, and the bullpen had to wear one. Ty Adcock had to pitch 2 more innings in this one – giving up 2 more runs – before being sent down with Isaiah Campbell, to make room for two more AA relievers. I don’t know what to tell you about the offense, other than Suarez hit another homer. We actually had a 3-2 lead after the first frame, before everything went to shit.

The Mariners were arguably worse in a 6-3 loss on Wednesday. This one featured a solid, if unspectacular start from Castillo (6 innings, 3 runs, 11 strikeouts, but also 2 solo homers, leaving us in a 3-0 hole). The M’s fought back to tie it at 3-3 with a Murphy solo homer and a Suarez 2-run bomb. But, then Andres Munoz came in for the 8th and kept giving up too much of the plate and getting knocked around accordingly. He’s not good enough to leave sliders hanging in the center of the zone. Also, for a guy who routinely touches 100 mph, it’s disconcerting to see him throw so many breaking pitches, especially to lefties, who can see them coming a mile away. One of our AA bullpen call-ups – Devin Sweet – pitched the 9th and gave up 2 more runs to give the game its final score. Not a great start to a Major League career!

Of course, that led to a 5-0 victory yesterday, because the Mariners are nothing if not a .500 ballclub (+/- 1 game). George Kirby followed up a shit start with a blazing one, going 7 innings, giving up 4 hits, striking out 10. Teoscar Hernandez accounted for the first two runs, Mike Ford hit a 2-run bomb late, and we scored on a wild pitch for our fifth and final run. Not too shabby for a team that was 1/8 with RISP.

Now, Toronto comes to town. People are up-in-arms about the Mariners selling Blue Jays gear in their stadium. Everyone’s gonna be even more upset when they see how many actual Blue Jays fans show up to drown us out. I’d just as soon avoid this series altogether, which won’t be hard to do. I’ve got Oppenheimer tonight at IMAX. I’ve got a wedding to attend tomorrow. And, we’re throwing a board game day on Sunday, complete with barbecue and bottled cider. MUCH more enjoyable than the stinky ol’ Mariners. Might even kick a water cooler for old time’s sake!

Do The Mariners Have What It Takes To Get To 90 Wins?

And, more importantly, is 90 wins enough to get the Mariners in the playoffs?

As we sit here, the Mariners have played 89 games out of a 162-game season. Doing my very best mathematics, I believe that means there are 73 games left to go. In those first 89 games, the Mariners have gotten to 45 wins. I know we talk about pre- and post-All Star Break as the first and second “halves”, but as you can clearly see from my math above, we don’t actually have half of our games remaining. We have considerably less than half. And yet, somehow, we have to find a way to double our win total just to get to 90 wins, in 16 fewer games. Which, as I noted above, might not even be enough to get us in the playoffs.

The Mariners have dug themselves an annoying little hole here. Let’s take a look at the damage before we assess the likelihood of pulling out of this nosedive.

The Mariners are 45-44, in third place in the A.L. West. We had been in fourth place for most of the season, until this 7-2 stretch to close out the first half led to us taking a game lead over the Angels. But, we’re 4 games behind Houston and 6 games behind Texas. That’s not completely insurmountable, but obviously a tall order.

As for the wild card spots, we’re squarely in the thick of it. There are 8 teams (not counting the current division leaders) in the running for 3 spots. Currently, those spots are held by the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Astros. Since we know the Mariners are 4 games behind the Astros, that means we also know the Mariners are 4 games out of the final wild card spot. There are two other teams ahead of us as well: the Yankees are 3 games better, and have a tiebreaker over us thanks to winning 4 of 6 in our season series; the Red Sox are 2 games better, and are currently leading the tiebreaker advantage by having beaten us 2 of 3 times so far.

I should also point out, for tiebreaker purposes, that both the Blue Jays and Orioles have a 2 of 3 advantage so far. The Angels lead our season series 4-2, the Guardians have already won a tiebreaker advantage over us 4-3, and Texas has a 5-1 advantage. Currently, we have an edge over the Rays 2-1 (probably meaningless, since they figure to have a far-and-away better record than us by season’s end, and will likely win their division), the Astros (a significant 5-2 lead, with 6 games to go), and we’ve yet to play the Twins, which feels important if – indeed – the Mariners have decided to start playing more competent baseball.

So, there’s kind of a lot to overcome. It’s never easy, is it?

To get to 90 wins, the Mariners will have to go 45-28, or win at a .616 clip the rest of the way. That’s very nearly winning 2 of 3.

I mean, it’s not impossible, but it also leaves us with a razor thin margin for error. Is this team capable of going 45-28? Sure. If the pitching holds up (meaning: both it performs well, and doesn’t suffer any more catastrophic injuries). If the hitting turns itself around. It’s not like we’ve gotta turn into a completely new team; we just need to do a little bit better than we’ve been doing all year. Maybe a new bat helps. Or maybe we’re not able to find that difference-maker, but a guy or two already on the roster starts playing to his expected abilities.

There are some built-in challenges we have to overcome as well. Bryan Woo almost certainly won’t make it to the end of the season. He has a hard innings limit, and I don’t think there’s a way for us to manipulate that without risking his arm long term. My hope here is that he’s able to bridge the gap between Marco Gonzales’ IL stint. But, I haven’t heard any news about Marco in quite some time.

There’s also the Bryce Miller factor. This IL stint for a blister issue might be the best thing for him and us. I believe we have a little more leeway with Miller as far as an innings limit is concerned, but at some point his season is likely to end before we get to the playoffs, even if it is in September. There doesn’t appear to be any guarantee that Marco comes back, but even if he does, there’s a strong likelihood we may need another starter at some point. That means any number of Quad-A guys in Tacoma (like Tommy Milone, for instance, or Darren McCaughan), or maybe we give Emerson Hancock the ball (who surely has innings issues of his own, not to mention a shaky start to his AA season).

Does all this mean the Mariners might need to bring in another starter? I doubt we’ll do that – unless someone gets hurt in the next three weeks – but you never know.

Gun to my head: what do I predict?

I think the smart money is on the Mariners NOT making the playoffs. What needs to happen for this to come to fruition is simple: the Mariners need to continue playing the way they’ve played all year. We will, at some point, make a trade, but I can’t imagine it will be for any sort of high-impact bat. I think it’ll be one of those hedge moves. Maybe it’s a guy with club control – where we can shed Wong and/or Pollock – of the Abraham Toro variety. Maybe there’s an aging Carlos Santana type to be had for cheap. But, what’s working against us is the simple fact that there are so many good teams looking for improvements (11 out of 15 teams in playoff contention the American League alone, with another 8 out of 15 in the N.L. all within just a half-game of the post-season, not counting the Padres and Cubs, who have losing records but positive run differentials). So, either the Mariners have to over-spend in trade to get someone who might not even be enough to get us to the playoffs anyway, or we settle for someone on the fringes and hope for the best.

Conversely, what needs to happen for the Mariners to right the ship?

We need Julio, Eugenio, and Cal to all pick up their games significantly on the offensive side of things. We need Teoscar, Ty, Jarred, and J.P. to just be who they’ve been and no worse. We need a little more out of second base, whether that’s Wong getting hot or Caballero being more than just a walk machine. And then we just need a bat to be in that middle range of Teoscar/Ty/Jarred. Like a Mike Ford, or a Tom Murphy, or an A.J. Pollock, or TBD.

But, the majority of this stretch run needs to be dominated by our stars: Julio, Eugenio, and Cal. Those are our monsters, and it’s about time for them to be unleashed.

On the pitching side of things, no notes from our starters, other than: no more injuries. As for the relievers, I want to see some unsustainable hot stretches from our back-end-of-the-bullpen guys. Brash, Munoz, and Sewald. No more blown saves. No more back-breaking homers allowed. Just zeroes, by whatever means necessary.

I believe in Julio. I think he has a helluva second half in store. I’m less bullish on Suarez or Raleigh. And the bullpen kinda scares me a little bit.

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to root like crazy. That doesn’t mean there’s a small, simple part of me – buried deep down, underneath decades of insufferable Mariners play – that believes in a playoff run. If it happens, it’ll be up there with the ’95 comeback. But, I’m bracing myself for disappointment. This is the way.

The Mariners Got Back Over .500 At The All Star Break

All year long, we’ve been waiting around for the Mariners to do their thing. They start off slow for a month or two, then they get their shit together and go on a run.

Obviously, that’s not true. That’s not “their thing”. They did that in 2022, and now we’ve deemed it their modus operandi for some reason. So much of what the Mariners did in 2022 was unsustainable. Their record in 1-run games. The timely hitting, the cluster luck, the 14-game winning streak to close out the first half and their 22-3 run in that same span.

What is sustainable is the quality of their pitching. What’s set to turn around in our favor is our hitting luck that’s gone wacky the wrong way thus far. If there’s a run to be had, maybe we’re in it right now.

The Mariners just finished beating the Astros down in Houston 3 out of 4 games. I’m not going to hand them any prizes or anything; frankly, given how banged up the Astros are, that’s the result we should expect, even if it’s involving the Mariners (who have notoriously struggled against them since they joined the A.L. West). But, in conjunction with series wins over the San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays, we’re looking at a nice little run to close out the first half. We’re 45-44, thanks in large part to going 7-2 in our last nine games.

I’ve written about it a lot so far, but this is a .500-ish team. Even when the Mariners have gone in the tank, they’ve managed to pull themselves back to baseline (mostly by beating the very worst teams baseball has to offer). This recent stretch is a bit different, in that our foes are actually good, and probable playoff participants. Even a banged-up Astros team is usually good to keep their heads above water. But, this weekend, we really took it to them, and came OH SO CLOSE to sweeping them.

Thursday’s 5-1 victory was extremely enjoyable. Suarez and Crawford homered early to take a 3-0 lead. Cal Raleigh added an insurance run in the 7th, and Suarez put a cherry on top with a second homer in the 9th. Getting Suarez hot will be paramount to keeping this run going; we’ve yet to see him really go on a tear this season, so I can only imagine good things if it continues.

Meanwhile, All Star George Kirby went 6.2 innings (without his very best stuff), limiting them to 1 run on 6 hits and a walk, while striking out only 3.

Friday’s 10-1 manslaughter was even better, with lots of production up and down the lineup, and a special shout-out to the very bottom. Kelenic, Ford, and Wong combined to go 7 for 10 with 6 runs scored, 7 RBI, a double by each of them, and an additional homer by Ford.

All Star Luis Castillo went 7 innings, giving up 1 run (0 earned) on 5 hits, 0 walks, and 3 strikeouts.

The lone blemish of the weekend came on Saturday, with a frustrating 3-2 defeat, highlighted by the Mariners loading the bases with 0 outs in the 8th inning of a tie game, only to leave them loaded with a couple of strikeouts and a foul out. Andres Munoz promptly gave up a cheap solo homer in the bottom of the 8th and that was the ballgame.

It ruined another quality start by Bryan Woo (6 innings, 2 runs, 1 earned, on 3 hits and a walk, with 4 strikeouts), and wasted what might’ve been a come-from-behind victory after ceding the Astros a 2-0 lead to start the game. The Mariners, in general, can’t afford to blow very many more games this year, but they especially can’t afford to lose ’em like this. Bases loaded with no outs needs to lead to a minimum of a single run!

Thankfully, we bounced back with a 3-1 victory on Sunday. Logan Gilbert went 7 innings, giving up 1 run on 3 hits and 0 walks, with 6 strikeouts. The Mariners scored all of their runs in the 4th inning on doubles by Teoscar Hernandez and Jarred Kelenic, but the pitching really stole the show.

What’s critical is keeping this run alive. We have some not-so-great opponents on the horizon, but that can’t matter anymore. Going 7-2 will mean nothing if we start dropping winnable games again. So, let’s take this week, rest up, and get back on the horse next weekend.

The Mariners Have Played Slightly Better Lately

Still not good enough to entirely draw my interest. But, I’m cautiously encouraged. It’s not like I haven’t seen flashes of competence before, so I’m not jumping into this pool until I see a more consistent stretch of dominance.

The good news is that the Mariners have won back-to-back series against quality baseball teams in the Rays and Giants. The bad news is that in our two losses over that span, it showcased everything that’s still wrong with this team.

Last Friday, the Mariners lost 15-4 in the series opener against the Rays. We’ve been seeing these types of defeats more and more in the last month. This one might’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back, though. We were up 4-0 heading into the top of the fourth. The game was tied 4-4 heading into the top of the eighth. Bryce Miller had blister issues on his throwing hand, and the bullpen obviously wasn’t super sharp from there. We know this because the Rays scored a whopping 8 runs in the 8th, then another 3 runs in the 9th off of Mike Ford to give the game its final score. 15 unanswered runs led to an avalanche of boos from the home crowd. Well deserved boos.

The Mariners managed to bounce back the next day, winning 8-3 behind another strong start by George Kirby (7 innings, 2 runs). J.P. and Julio each had 3 hits, Teoscar and Kelenic each had 2 hits, and a smattering of other guys chipped in. A real team effort in this one, too few and far between if you ask me.

We managed to sack up in the finale, coming back to win 7-6. It looked extremely ugly to start, as (at that time) our lone All Star – Luis Castillo – gave up 6 runs in the first three innings (4 earned), and we were down 6-1 heading into the bottom of the third. But, the M’s came roaring back with a 4-spot in that frame to make it 6-5. Tom Murphy tied it with a solo homer in the sixth, and we scored the go-ahead run in the seventh off of a hit by pitch. Everyone in the lineup, 1-9, contributed in some way. Castillo settled down to get through six innings, and the bullpen was nails from there.

The good times kept on rolling in San Francisco with a 6-5 victory on Monday. Bryan Woo had his best start of the year so far (6 innings, 2 runs), but things were deadlocked at 2-2 until the 9th inning, when all hell broke loose. The M’s rallied for four runs to seemingly run away with things. Except, Paul Sewald, in the bottom half, gave up a 3-run bomb to tighten it up again. Luckily, the offense nabbed that insurance run. Great games by Julio (3 RBI), Teoscar (2 for 5 with a run and RBI), Eugenio (2 for 4), Ford (2 for 3 with a walk), and even Kolten Wong (a hit and 2 runs scored).

The 4th of July had all the fireworks coming from Logan Gilbert, who pitched his first-ever Major League complete game shutout. It was a breathtaking experience, where he only gave up 5 hits and 0 walks, while striking out 7. The offense put up 6 runs thanks to Mike Ford’s 4-hit day (including 2 doubles, a homer, 2 runs scored, and an RBI), and multi-hit days from J.P., Julio, and even A.J. Pollock (who also got in on the action with a homer). What we’ve been seeing from Ford so far is nothing short of amazing, and I really hope he’s able to keep it up.

Unfortunately, the winning streak stopped at four games (tied for a season high), thanks to a 2-0 loss yesterday. I guess a sweep was just too much to ask. We needed a Tommy Milone spot start thanks to Miller’s blister; he gutted out 4.1 innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits and 4 walks. The consummate Good Enough start from a Quad-A pitcher, who gets in and out of trouble all day long. The bullpen shut it down from there, but it didn’t matter, as we were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

For a day there towards the end, the Mariners were back to .500; now, we’ll have to settle for 42-43. It’s a 4-game set down in Houston, and then it’s the All Star Break. I can virtually guarantee I will watch none of this Astros series, but you never know. I can be fickle, especially if the M’s look to be nursing a lead.

I should point out that George Kirby was named as an alternate to the All Star Game (very much deserved), as was Julio thanks to some drop-outs. I don’t know if Julio was as much deserved of this honor, but he was already going to be there for the Home Run Derby, he’s still one of the biggest young stars in the game today, and Seattle is the host city. A little padding of our All Star representation never hurt nobody. Softens the blow of what could’ve been quite the embarrassing situation of potentially only having the one guy in a Mariners uniform.

The Mariners Went 4-2 On That Homestand

There has been a lot of surprising things about these 2023 Mariners, most of them bad. Like their record in 1-run games. Like the slow starts from a variety of hitters (and, by contrast, the hot start of Kelenic). One thing I really didn’t see coming is the fact that the Mariners have been better at home than on the road. Especially at this point in the season, usually it’s the other way around. My instinct – whenever the Mariners are struggling – is to kick at the dirt beneath my feet and blame the home stadium, or the marine layer, or whatever the fuck it is that makes it impossible to hit well in Seattle. Yet, here we are, 4 games over .500 at home. Huh.

I also saw a stat during the game yesterday that said Ty France is hitting considerably WORSE on the road, which is shocking to me. I don’t know why ANYONE would hit better in Seattle than away from it. Yet, here we are. France sucks on the road, A.J. Pollock can’t hit lefty pitching, and Gold Glover Kolten Wong can’t field a ball to save his life. Nothing makes sense!

The Mariners just won 2 of 3 against the lowly White Sox. Similarly to the Marlins series that preceeded it, I can’t help but feel like there was an opportunity for a sweep that we let slip through our fingers.

The Mariners have been exactly .500 13 times out of 70 games. The Mariners have been +/- 1 game around .500 39 out of 70 games. I don’t know if that’s impressive. I couldn’t tell you if that’s a lot – compared to the rest of baseball – or just another number, but it really gets to the heart of this team. They’re just treading water. The more meaningful number is the 70. We’re 70 games in. We’ve got 92 to go. Time’s a-wastin’! We’re 8.5 behind the Rangers, 4 games behind the Angels, and 3 games behind the Astros. We’re also behind the entire fucking American League East!

This isn’t like last year, where there was a pretty clear path to the playoffs. It’s also not like last year in that divisions don’t swallow one another up quite as much as they used to. We always lamented having to play the Astros 19 times, but imagine how different the playoff picture might be if everyone in the A.L. East had to play one another 19 times apiece. There might be a little more leeway for a team like the Mariners to hide in the weeds and sneak into one of the last wild card spots.

That being said, .500 ain’t gonna cut it. We need a hot streak and we needed it a month ago.

In case you were wondering, this upcoming 6-game road trip is comprised exclusively of A.L. East opponents, in the Yankees and the red-hot Orioles. I … don’t see this week going well for the Mariners.

Enjoy that White Sox series while you can, in other words!

There was pretty phenomenal pitching throughout this series. Or, to put it another way, there was some atrocious hitting. We won 3-2 on Friday due to one or the other. Bryan Woo went 5.2 innings, giving up two runs. The bullpen of Brash, Munoz, and Sewald was dynamite in locking the game down from there.

The top of the lineup really carried the mail in this one. Julio, Ty, and Teoscar each had 2 hits, with Teo being the hero of the day with an early game-tying RBI double and a late go-ahead homer.

In an ideal world, the M’s would’ve won on Saturday by the same 3-2 score. Unfortunately, Sewald blew the save in the 9th, and the offense went hitless after the fifth inning. Logan Gilbert wasn’t sharp, but left himself in line for the victory. And, other than Sewald, the bullpen was as good as you’d expect. But, we were 2/14 with RISP, with 12 left on base, ensuring a 4-3 defeat in extra innings.

Not to be outdone, the offense on Sunday struck out 18 motherfucking times. A career-high (and tying a franchise-high) 16 by Lance Lynn of all people! Thankfully, Bryce Miller was on one, going 7 innings and holding the White Sox to just a single run. The offense did show up, with a 2-RBI double by Julio in the 3rd (pretty much all we were able to get off of Lynn in this one) and a 3-RBI triple by Kelenic in the 8th. With the offense as bad as they were – I think I heard we swung and missed against Lynn over 30 times in the game – it’s almost impossible that we were able to win 5-1, but there you have it. Baseball is dumb.

Mariners Can’t Complete The Sweep Of The Marlins

I’m not bothering to get my hopes up, but that was a series victory over a superior baseball team. An extreme rarity for the Mariners this season.

On Monday, we won 8-1. Bryce Miller went 6 innings, giving up 1 run on 1 hit and 3 walks, with 6 strikeouts. The one hit was a solo homer, otherwise he was brilliant. This game also featured the Major League debut of Ty Adcock in relief, going 2 shutout innings after being called up from AA.

This was also one of those rare games where, offensively, we poured it on early and added to our lead late. Really as complete a game as we’ve seen from this team. Crawford, Hernandez, Suarez, and Murphy each had 2 hits. France chipped in with a hit and 3 RBI, and Julio also had a hit and RBI.

The M’s were similarly impressive on Tuesday, winning 9-3. George Kirby went 6 innings, giving up an unearned run on 3 hits and 0 walks, with 10 strikeouts. Chris Flexen (of course) gave up 2 garbage-time runs, otherwise the relief was stellar.

The bottom of the lineup really did the bulk of the damage in this one, with Mike Ford and Jose Caballero combining for 5 of our 8 hits. In fact, the 5-9 hitters did all of the offense in this one. Ford had 3 hits (2 homers), 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored. Raleigh, Suarez, and Kelenic each scored 2 runs, with Cal also knocking in 3 RBI on a second-inning homer. And Caballero had 3 RBI on a sixth-inning triple.

Unfortunately, as the title of this post indicates, the Mariners couldn’t complete the sweep on Wednesday, losing 4-1. Luis Castillo didn’t have his best command, walking 6 and giving up 2 runs in 5.2 innings. But, that didn’t matter, because the offense didn’t do anything until the ninth inning, when the M’s scored their only run on a sac fly robbery of a would-be game-tying Grand Slam by Suarez.

All in all, a somewhat encouraging series for the Mariners. But, of course, taken in total with the rest of this season, it’s not really much of anything, is it? We’re still below .500. We’re still in fourth place in the A.L. West. We’re still too wildly inconsistent to even think about a positive run of quality baseball. And it’s not like the schedule is easing up anytime soon.