Same Ol’ Mariners Give Us That Sweet Home Cookin’

Were you getting a little too excited about the Seattle Mariners? Did you watch in awe as they completed one of the hottest streaks in franchise history? Indeed, one of the hottest streaks in MLB history, relatively speaking.

We’ve talked about this before. It’s a bit of a running joke with the Mariners. First, it requires decades upon decades of sucking: check. Then, it requires the M’s to get off to a slow-ish start to the season: check. Next, the Mariners need to play well enough to climb back into contention: check. Usually, this culminates with an impressive streak of wins (though, 14 is truly a bit much), maybe a well-timed series sweep or something, always on the road: check.

Now, the table is set. Sometimes, we get an off-day between games. An extra 24 hours to really sit and relish in our excitement. The Mariners are returning home! Let’s keep the good times rolling! This time, we had four days, the All-Star Break. We were the toast of baseball, our young phenom made a name for himself in the Home Run Derby and for an inning or so during the game itself (when Julio was interviewed while playing on the field). Fan interest was at a fever pitch!

I should also point out that invariably, the team we’re coming home to face after playing so well is almost always the Cheating Houston Astros. If there was ever a team that made you want to give up the sport of baseball and renounce your Mariners fandom in one fell swoop, it’s the Asstros. Whether actively cheating or not, they have our number. It won’t be that way forever, but it kinda feels like it will.

If I could’ve had one victory this weekend, I would’ve chosen Friday’s game. Get me to 15 consecutive wins, with Marco on the hill, in front of a sold out crowd. But, I couldn’t have ANY victory this weekend, as the M’s got completely obliterated. Oh sure, the scores all look close enough, but don’t let that fool you. The Mariners weren’t competitive. There was no point where we were realistically going to win any of these games.

Marco didn’t have it on Friday. He gave up 5 runs in 5.2 innings. The Astros’ starter – the worst in their rotation, and someone we’ve pounded multiple times this year – went 6 innings and gave up 1 run. That’s it. Game. 5-2.

No one had it on Saturday, as Verlander once again dominated us (7 innings, 1 measly run). Logan Gilbert gave us a nice quality start (6 innings, 2 runs), but the offense shit the bed, save a Carlos Santana homer. 3-1.

And Robbie Ray came back down to Earth on Sunday (3 innings, 6 runs). If we were still playing like we did during our winning streak, this would’ve been one for the win column, as the Astros managed to give up 5 runs on the day. However, we were already losing 6-0 through the first six innings before the offense woke up. We lost 8-5 when all was said and done.

It should be noted that Julio Rodriguez was scratched from all three games with a wrist injury. Apparently he hurt it in the Rangers’ series, and proceeded to do all the All Star festivities with it.

Part of me wants to be annoyed by this. Seems irresponsible. Seems like more of a Me First attitude. At the same time, he’s a 21 year old kid, he’s excited for his first All Star Game appearance. He’s trying to make a name for himself and build his brand. He’s literally trying to double his baseball salary on the year. And, he’s got that kind of attitude where he thinks he can do anything, he can succeed in whatever he wants. At some point, if you’re a fan of the kid, you’ve got to take him with all of his exuberance. He’s not perfect.

That being said, I hope this is a learning experience. Because at some point, I don’t think you can help but question his desire to win. What’s more important, a flashy All Star Break, or games against your bitter divisional rivals when you’re fighting for your playoff lives? Every game matters. All 162. They all count in the standings, and when the season’s over, it’s going to come down to just a small handful of them.

In this specific scenario, I wonder if it would’ve mattered. Would he have been 100% healed if he’d skipped the All Star festivities? Can’t say. He very well still might’ve been sore and the team might’ve held him back anyway. Maybe he would’ve been better, but still not 100%; would that have made a difference in the outcomes of these games? Would a Julio at 85% have made up for the 3, 2, and 3-run deficits we lost by? Seems like a stretch. Even if he WAS 100%, I don’t know if it would’ve mattered. We really would’ve needed him to be on fire, mashing all kinds of RBI throughout the weekend. That’s not totally outside the realm of possibility. But, the way the Astros were pitching – and the way we struggled to limit damage in two of the three games – I find it hard to believe he would’ve made a difference. Therefore, I find it hard to blame him for what he did.

I’ll say this, though, I’m going to be more than annoyed if he ends up on the IL. The longer this injury keeps him out, the harsher my opinion is going to be. Because you can’t put the kind of strain on an already-injured wrist that he put it through – with 80+ dingers in the Home Run Derby, to say nothing about all of his practice swings – and not do more damage to it.

The Rangers are up next. Let’s hope we can get right back on track, but I dunno. It kinda feels like we’re about to undo a lot of the good we just did.

The Mariners Won In Houston To Cap Off An Impressive Road Trip

I’m spending the long weekend in Maui, so I couldn’t care less about what’s going on with the Mariners right now. That being said, I’m pretty delighted with how this Astros series went, and with how the road trip went as a whole.

The 7-4 victory on Monday was as fun as it gets. Robbie Ray pitched like mediocre dog shit once again (5 innings, 4 runs, 3 earned). But, the offense showed up and matched them run for run through three innings, and even set up Ray for the victory when it was said and done.

Cal Raleigh was the real star in this one, jacking a 3-run home run in the second, then following that up with an RBI single in the fourth.

This game got interesting later on, as the bullpen managed to shut them down (with Penn Murfee getting 5 outs to bridge it to the later innings). Ty France was hit by a pitch in the ninth, damn near leading to a brawl as both teams jawed at one another. Once the dust settled, Julio Rodriguez muscled a 2-run homer to right field to put the game out of reach. Following that, the pitcher threw at Eugenio Suarez’s head, earning himself an ejection and a 4-game suspension.

Tuesday’s 4-1 loss really wasn’t interesting in the slightest. Justin Verlander dominated (7 innings, 1 run, 12 strikeouts) and while Chris Flexen was very good (6.2 innings, 2 runs), the offense just didn’t have it, and the D-squad bullpen couldn’t keep it close.

The rubber match 6-3 victory on Wednesday was entertaining as all get-out. Logan Gilbert was a rock in an otherwise shaky outing for him (6 innings, 3 runs). But the offense did more than enough. Cal Raleigh had a 2-run bomb to tie it in the 4th, Ty France had a solo homer the very same inning to take the lead for good, and we played add-on from there.

The Mariners are still 10 games out of first in the division, and in 4th in the A.L. West overall. But, a 6-3 road trip is nothing to sneeze at. We get an off-day tomorrow, then go up against the Red Sox this weekend. Shrug emoji!

The Mariners Managed A Surprisingly Dominant Series Win Over The Astros

If anything seemed unlikely to happen after the Mariners lost a series to the lowly Athletics, it was these very same Mariners turning right around and winning a series against the first place Astros. Yet, lo and behold, there it happened. And, not only that, but very nearly a series sweep!

While I was away, splashing around at the Great Wolf Lodge (and probably getting myself sick in the process, but it’s a small price to pay for family fun and entertainment), the Mariners put up some very impressive performances. What’s irked me so far this year is that we’re not super timely, in that I mean when the pitching is dominant, the hitting is also pretty good. But, when the hitting is bad, the pitching is also kind of mediocre; thus our losing record through two months of the season.

On Friday, we got 7 innings of 1-run ball out of Chris Flexen; he sprinked around 7 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6. I’m going to go ahead and say that based on opponent, it was easily his best performance of the year. Flexen has been adequate to good at times this year, but usually the offense falls on its face, so it was nice to see the Mariners jack so many homers to win it 6-1. Nevertheless, this kind of start would’ve been better placed in one of those earlier games where the offense wasn’t quite so strong. Then again, beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

Julio Rodriguez and Kyle Lewis each hit 2-run bombs, while Ty France and the newly called up Taylor Trammell hit solo homers to give us all the offense we needed. This was all the more impressive considering Justin Verlander was on the hill opposite us, who gave up all 6 of those runs in his 6 innings of work. Outstanding!

Not to be outdone, the Saturday Mariners won 6-0, in a rare shutout victory for our side. Logan Gilbert, again, had easily the best start of his season, going 7 shutout innings, giving up 4 hits while striking out 5. The difference between him and Flexen is that he’s been performing at a high level all year. Nevertheless, this was true ace shit Gilbert was dealing with, not to mention it’s his third straight game of 7 innings. When you consider he’s still on something of a pitch count in his young career, I don’t know what more you can say. Gilbert is the real deal!

We saw another Kyle Lewis homer in this one. That’s two in back-to-back days, with a day off on Sunday (spoiler alert). The team is being extra cautious with him, which I like. Because, at this point, it’s abundantly clear we need his bat in the lineup as many days as possible. If that’s only 4 out of 7 days, so be it. That beats the hell out of whoever the fuck being in the lineup 7 out of 7 days.

The offense as a whole was strong in this one yet again, with 13 hits, only a day after notching 10 hits. That would not last (again, spoiler alert), but I’ll take as many promising developments as I can get (another one being that after a rough first couple of weeks down in Tacoma, Jared Kelenic is finally starting to look like the hitter we know he is, at least against PCL opponents).

Our 2-1 defeat on Sunday was not due to Marco Gonzales, who kept the outstanding start train rolling, going 7.2 innings, giving up 2 runs (though, it should be noted that Paul Sewald gave up the second – inherited – run, and thus was unable to do his job of keeping the game tied in a sticky situation, which has otherwise been his M.O. since the start of last year). Marco’s been a little up and down this year, but I still feel like he keeps us in ballgames more often than not. He does need a better offense – and for our defense to play up to its abilities – to be a truly great starting pitcher. Hopefully in 2023, things will finally come together for him. I feel like he’s damn near a 20-game winner on a team with a high-functioning offense.

There, unsurprisingly, wasn’t a lot of offense in this one. Ty France had the lone RBI, and is a manimal against pretty much anyone you put out there against him. Unfortunately, it gets to be pretty bare bones at the bottom of the lineup, especially when Kyle Lewis needs to sit. Mitch Haniger can’t return soon enough. This was proven in the bottom of the ninth when we loaded the bases, only for Luis Torrens to hit into a game-ending double play. Can’t have that. For one thing, with better hitters returning, you’d like to think you won’t need the Torrenses of the world covering your ass. But, also Torrens needs to be better. What hitter doesn’t relish that opportunity? Be a professional hitter and get that fucking runner home!

There was a holiday off-day yesterday as the M’s flew back across the country to face Baltimore in a 3-game set. They’re pretty much as bad as we are, so we should at least have a fighting chance the next few days.

The Mariners Lost Another Series, Still Can’t Hit

Did you know the Mariners have already been shut out five times this year, including most recently on Monday against the Phillies in an embarrassing 9-0 rout? We’ve played all of 32 games so far this year, so you probably had some sort of inkling that the number was rather high. Did you know, though, that over a full 162-game season last year, the Mariners were shut out only eight times?

Of course, the 2021 Mariners were fun and interesting; the 2022 Mariners are abysmal and largely boring in how bad they’ve been. We’ve seen this same exact punchless team repeatedly over the last decade and a half, and it’s getting fucking old. They even moved the fences in during that span, seemingly to no avail. It’s their inability to properly develop their young hitters – to say nothing of somehow also ruining the established veterans they manage to bring in – that’s the ultimate culprit. The fences could be 30 yards away from home plate and they’d still manage to flail more often than not.

The 2021 Mariners also had 10 shutout victories, while the 2022 M’s have zero. The most games back of first place they were in 2021 was 5.0; we’re already at 6.5 games behind the Angels and that figures to only get worse. Most telling, perhaps, is our record in 1-run games; last year, we were 33-19 (for a .635 winning percentage) and this year we’re 5-5 (an even .500). There’s no magic, no spark, no juice. These 2022 Mariners are rolling over like so many Jesse Winker groundouts.

As I’ve noted repeatedly, J.P. Crawford and Ty France are the only two guys propping up this offense. Finally, Adam Frazier is starting to pull his weight, having raised his slash line to a respectable .270/.346/.377 (that’s FAR more in line with his career norms). And, as we’ve all been giddy about over the last week or so, Julio Rodriguez is really starting to look like the superstar we were all promised. Between those four guys and the dynamic injury duo of Mitch Haniger (who likely won’t return until July now) and Kyle Lewis (who is in the midst of a AAA stint that is doubling as his own personal Spring Training, which will almost certainly lead to a re-aggravation any day now), we might be onto something with this offense.

With the dynamic injury duo out of commission, and with the rest of the lineup being what it is, we’re essentially fucked.

Eugenio Suarez is who we thought he was, which might be okay if he’s batting 8th in the lineup. But, for pretty much the whole year, he’s been batting in the top 5, and for a guy barely scraping a .200 batting average, that’s not going to cut it.

Words can’t express how disgruntled I am with Jesse Winker. Everyone keeps saying he’s going to turn it around, but I think Safeco T-Mobile is in his head, and it’s extending his slump to every other stadium we play in. I’m not expecting him to ever turn it around, and this trade with the Reds will go down as one of the all-time disasters.

Raleigh, Kelenic, and Toro just aren’t Major League hitters, period. They’re clearly too good for the wasteland that is AAA, but that’s not saying a whole lot. Maybe they would be Major League hitters if they weren’t saddled with this Mariners organization, but that doesn’t do us much good now, does it? Because we, as fans, ARE saddled with this Mariners organization, and we’re forced to sit helpless as prospect after promising prospect goes down in flames thanks to the litany of issues and deficiencies they’ve got to overcome.

What really gets me is, once again, Luis Torrens has fallen into a slump of all slumps. Last year, he was sent down to Tacoma, figured it out, and returned to be a pretty productive member of this offense. Now, he’s right back to sucking as he did before and it’s all just so baffling to me.

And, it’s not like these guys are running into buzzsaw after buzzsaw. Sure, opposing bullpens have been pretty stout, but the starters haven’t been anything special. And the Phillies’ starters have been downright atrocious! These are the types of arms this struggling Mariners offense should be “getting right” against. Instead, they’re making these guys look like Justin Verlander!

I don’t have the energy to get into my gripes with the pitching, but suffice it to say, no one is really stepping up and helping out the offense. Chris Flexen had his worst outing of the year on Monday, giving up 6 runs in 5 innings. And, Diego Castillo’s freefall continued in that same game. In 3 appearances in the month of May, he’s pitched all of 1.0 innings while giving up 9 runs. DISASTER!

It was nice to see Robbie Ray bounce back on Tuesday, pitching 5.2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 10. The 5-4 victory was only as close as it was because Paul Sewald gave up a meaningless solo homer while getting the 4-out save.

The Mariners had a chance to win the series in the Wednesday matinee, but Logan Gilbert had “one bad inning”, this time on “one bad pitch” that just so happened to result in a grand slam for the Phillies. We lost 4-2. Something tells me Gilbert won’t be the Pitcher of the Month of May.

Now, we’re 14-18 and embark on a crazy 10-games-in-10-days road trip to play the red hot Mets, the offensive powerhouse Blue Jays, and the struggling-but-probably-still-better-than-us Red Sox. I’m expecting something in the realm of a 2-8 record in this span, so watch us actually hold our own and come away with a 6-4 record.

The Mariners Did A Number On The Astros

My friends and I kept up on our almost-every-year tradition of going to Opening Day and, as expected, there were some strikes and gutters (as there is with pretty much anything). The game was a full-blown sellout, which meant that by the time I looked into buying tickets, I couldn’t even bother with Ticketmaster. That comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, which I’ll save for another time. Long story short, four tickets in the 300-level ended up coming to $52 apiece, including fees and whatnot.

They weren’t the best seats in the world, nor the worst. The four of us had our own row, which is nice. No getting up and down for restless patrons needing to pee or buy food every other inning. But, we were right on the stairwell going into the upper 300-section, in clear view of the 300-level walkway, which meant occasionally people were standing in our way. Thankfully, we had a VERY good usher in our section – literally the only time I’ve ever said that at a Mariners game – who was not only on top of getting people out of our sightlines, but was very chill about our (mostly) clean jeers of certain Astros players.

With it being a sellout, that comes with the usual sellout issues. Namely: people. A lot of them. The Mariners have done a lot to try to speed up the concessions process. They have refillable sodas now where the people can just do it themselves. They have cashless concessions, so we’re not dealing with old people fumbling for quarters. But, I don’t know what to tell you. The walkways were constantly jammed pretty much from the first inning onward. We got there right before first pitch and were able to get food and drink okay. But, once the game got going, it was a nightmare to ever leave your seats. I don’t know if they were having technical issues, or if that’s just the way it is whenever you have anything approaching a sellout crowd, but if the Mariners end up being really good, this could be the norm more often than not, and they probably need to figure something out on those occasions.

One solution should be: have more vendors walking around. Where are all the guys with tubs hanging around their necks, hollering about beer and peanuts and whatnot? The lower sections might’ve had a couple, but the 300’s got the shaft, and that feels like a mistake. We needed beer, we needed hot dogs, and we needed popcorn but would’ve gladly settled for peanuts if it meant not having to miss 1-2 innings of action just to go out and get it. By the way, I don’t even know if they have hot dog vendors walking around anymore, but dammit, they need to come back, because there’s nothing like a plain ballpark hotdog!

I will say that getting INTO the stadium was pretty painless, so that was nice. I had expected a lot more trouble with that part of it, and was pleasantly surprised.

The game itself was fantastic! Five stars, no notes!

As you can imagine, I hate the cheating Astros. I hated them before it was cool to hate them. I even hated them before they were cheaters! They’ve never had any business being in the A.L. West and it’s ridiculous we’ve had to endure them for as long as we have. So, anytime you can beat their fucking asses by double-digit runs, you have to relish the experience.

It didn’t hurt that we had the over 8.5 combined runs, as well as the Mariners to win the game outright. If only Kelenic’s fly ball to right in the bottom of the fifth had another 10 feet or so on it, we would’ve REALLY made a killing (but that’s neither here nor there).

Marco Gonzales was remarkably efficient in this one, going 7 innings, giving up just the 1 run on 4 hits (no walks), with 6 strikeouts, all on 93 pitches. That was a far cry from his first start of the season, but I’m willing to call that one an outlier for the way our error derailed things. It was great to see Marco bounce back, and I hope this portends to better things to come this year over last.

Offensively, the M’s did everything to make me eat my words about how bad they looked up until that point. Adam Frazier had 4 hits (including a double and a triple), 2 runs, and 4 RBI. Suarez had a 2-run bomb and 3 RBI. Winker and Haniger both had 2 hits. Ty France had 2 RBI, Tom Murphy had 3 runs scored, J.P. Crawford scored 2 runs, and Kelenic and J-Rod both had positive contributions. Up and down the lineup, everyone chipped in!

It just felt like a celebration from the very first inning, and it was great to see the likes of Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman get the everloving shit booed out of them. My friends and I were on it all the way through, and like to believe we had an effect. Fuck those guys, and everyone else on those cheating Astros teams. The fact that Altuve couldn’t even finish the game (I like to believe he asked to be taken out because he couldn’t handle it) was the cherry on top.

Of course, nothing can ever be perfect. Justin Verlander started on Saturday and went 8 shutout innings, en route to a 4-0 Astros victory. I missed this one, but I wouldn’t say I was “missing” it, Bob. Flexen had a so-so Quality Start (6 innings, 3 runs), but we were never going to win this one regardless. We had 3 hits on the day, two by France. So, you know.

But, we bounced right back with a 7-2 victory on Sunday! Matt Brash got his first win, going 5.1 innings, giving up 2 runs (both in the sixth inning on a 2-run homer). He was … effectively wild in this one, walking 6, but he only gave up the two hits (both in that sixth inning). It was never going to be a true No Hitter for Brash, given the limitations on his pitch count this season, but it was great to see him handle some adversity when he didn’t totally have command of his stuff. It gave the M’s enough time to stake him to a big lead.

We scored 1 in the first on a Suarez double, then rallied for 5 more in the fourth, highlighted by a France 3-run homer. Frazier and Kelenic both had two hits apiece, and Torrens, Toro, and J-Rod all chipped in. Take that, Fun Differential! We’re +4 in run differential on the year!

Paul Sewald closed out the sixth inning without any more damage, and the rest of the bullpen was lights out from there. This time, it went Steckenrider, Munoz, and Castillo over the final three frames. Interesting to see Munoz already in that mix, but his stuff is so nasty, you can see why.

We get our first off-day today, followed by a home set against the Rangers. Now, we’re in it! Baseball season! Catch the excitement!

The Mariners Drafted Emerson Hancock In The First Round

The Mariners had already been pretty hard at work – in previous drafts, as well as their bevy of step-back trades – in bolstering what looks to be the future of the Mariners’ everyday roster. Evan White (first base), Jarred Kelenic (outfield), Julio Rodriguez (outfield), J.P. Crawford (short stop), Cal Raleigh (catcher), Kyle Lewis (outfield) among others are either at the Major League level or very close to it. If the M’s are ever destined to break the playoff drought, most or all of these guys will have to hit in a big way.

The glaring issue was (and still is) pitching, particularly starting pitching. Starting in 2018 – with first round pick Logan Gilbert – and really coming to prominence last year (when nine of their first eleven picks were pitchers, including George Kirby in the first round), the Mariners have gone crazy trying to replenish their minor leagues with high-upside hurlers. Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn – among others who are at or near the Majors – are also obviously in the mix, but it was clear what we had the last few years wasn’t going to cut the mustard.

The streak continues with first round pick Emerson Hancock out of Georgia, who fell to the Mariners at #6 in yesterday’s first round of the MLB draft. Apparently, he was once deemed to be elite enough to be considered a potential #1 overall pick. While his most recent season did little to lower his value, as with many players who stay in college a year too long, scouts found reasons to pick apart his game to the point that he slid. He, nevertheless, has a mid-90’s fastball that can nearly touch triple digits. He’s got a great slider, a good change-up, and a curveball that needs work, but otherwise is still a quality part of his arsenal.

I’ve yet to read any concerning news about him from the blogs or whatnot, which I find promising. It seems like whenever the Mariners pick someone, there are immediate stories about how so-and-so projects as a future reliever, or a future fourth-outfielder or whatever. While it’s obviously too early to put ANY projections on a guy and expect them to stick across the board, it seems like those underwhelming predictions come true more often than not, especially where the Mariners are concerned. In other words, this doesn’t sound like a reach. It doesn’t sound like the M’s picked a guy with a “high floor but low ceiling”. This isn’t a safe pick of someone who can rush his way to the bigs (a la Danny Hultzen, when he was drafted second overall in 2011). This guy sounds like a LEGITIMATE top-end starter with a very real possibility to be a future Ace in this league (something, to my knowledge, the Mariners are sorely lacking at the moment, from a prospect perspective).

He could very well be the best pitching prospect we have in our organization RIGHT NOW!

This is very exciting to me! There are, of course, any number of things we have to worry about; he could refuse to sign (holding out for a crazy amount of money), he could get a big head and opt to not really put in the work required to advance his career, he could get injured and have his development delayed or even destroyed (again, a la Danny Hultzen), or he could just suck and start getting smacked around in the minors. The point is: there are COUNTLESS ways he could flame out before ever wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform in a game that counts. So, you know, don’t get your hopes up TOO much.

But, you know what I like? I like comparisons to Justin Verlander. I like dreaming that one day in 2-3 years, he could be anchoring a starting rotation for an exciting, young Mariners team looking to contend for a post-season berth. If nothing else, I like this strategy of selecting a SHIT-TON of pitching prospects in the hopes that a small handful will stick! It’s smart. As I outlined above, there are any number of ways prospects – especially pitching prospects, with all the possible injuries that can derail their effectiveness – won’t pan out. So, the best chance we have in succeeding is to throw as many resources at this problem as possible.

I’ll be concerned if the remaining five picks are so pitching-heavy, because you don’t want to TOTALLY neglect position players. But, for our needs right now, A+ in my book!

Yesterday’s Game Was Almost The Epitome Of A Perfect Mariners Loss

Picture this: a delightfully pleasant-weather spring day in Seattle. After a morning tastefully celebrating D-Day, as I do every year, I scrambled to get as much work done as I could, elated that my workday would be wrapping up around noon.

At the strike of twelve, I was in my Mariners hat and on my way out of the building. The wait for the light rail to arrive was longer than the ride from Westlake to International District, but it beats the hell out of walking all the way there I guess. I was starving, so I bought a $4 hot dog in the alley next to CenturyLink Field and had just enough time to wolf it down before I met my friends next to the Left Field Entrance.

Section 332 …

We got seats in section 332 for the 12:40pm start time and JUST missed first pitch, as we were waiting in line to get our first beers of the day. When we finally sat down, the Astros already had runners on base with nobody out. This was the second time Scott Servais used an Opener in this series alone – apparently he doesn’t trust soft-tossing lefties against the top of the order, because he did the same thing in the Wade LeBlanc start (who went on to pitch 8 innings of 1-run ball) – and it was the second time it totally backfired. In the aforementioned LeBlanc start, Cory Gearrin went 1.0 innings, giving up 3 runs in a 4-2 loss. I’m not saying had LeBlanc gotten the actual start – and subsequently went 8 innings of 1-run ball in this hypothetical scenario – that we would’ve won 2-1 (because, lord knows we’re more than capable of blowing a save in the 9th), but going down 3-0 in the first inning was a hole too big to dig our way out of.

Welp!

Yesterday someone named Austin Adams, who I’ve never heard of before, was somehow WORSE! Yes, he gave up 3 runs in the first inning, putting us in a would-be insurmountable hole against the likes of Justin Verlander (or so we thought), but he didn’t even have the decency of going a full inning! He threw 30 pitches and got 2 outs; starter Tommy Milone had to come in with a runner on base and get the final out of the inning (he would go on to throw 5 more on top of it, giving up a Wade LeBlanc-esque 1 run).

Can we fucking stop with the Opener now, Scott Servais? Or, at least, can we put a reliever in there who knows his ass from a hole in the ground? I don’t even know if that phrase makes sense here, but I’M STANDING BY IT!

The Mariners got a run back in the bottom of the first thanks to some weird defense by the Astros (deciding to NOT catch a pop fly by Encarnacion was an interesting choice, I must say), and then things settled in a little more predictably for a while. The Astros’ lead ballooned up to 5-1 before things started getting interesting.

We chased Verlander in the bottom of the seventh and worked a nice 2-out rally against the bullpen, pulling the game to 5-4. The Astros got one back in the eighth, and the M’s did the same in the bottom half. Then, against their closer in the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners pulled it to 6-6 to force the game into extras.

The Astros took the lead in the top of the tenth, but Omar Narvaez jacked a solo bomb to re-tie the game in the bottom frame. Things stayed that way until the 14th inning, when a line drive got past Domingo Santana in right for a leadoff triple (he would score the game-winning run on a sac fly). Spoiler alert, but the M’s lost with the bases juiced full of walks, but I’m gonna stop here for a moment to talk about Santana.

Servais wasn’t all Opener Gaffes this week; he also made what I thought was a pretty savvy move. For most of the year, the outfield has been Santana in left, Mallex Smith in center, and Mitch Haniger in right. It made sense. Haniger is probably better suited as a right fielder, and his strong arm plays well there. Smith was supposed to be a defensive whiz and a natural in center. And, while Santana’s natural home is in right, the left field in Safeco isn’t unreasonable, and it would seem to mask his weaker throwing arm (at least compared to Haniger’s).

Well, that ended up backfiring miserably, as Santana has led all of baseball in errors and misplayed balls while in left field, and Mallex’s defense has completely fallen apart for some reason since he re-joined the Mariners. So, this week, Servais moved Smith to left, Haniger to center, and Santana to right. That would take some of the mental pressure off of Mallex, and hopefully do the same for Santana. While we might have less range with Haniger in center, overall you’d think it would be a net positive throughout the outfield.

Well, that miscue by Santana in the 14th inning – taking a terrible GODAWFUL route to the ball, letting it get over his head, then bounce around allowing the runner to get to third – proves once and for all that he’s just not an outfielder. He’s a fucking defensive disaster. At this point, I don’t know if the team has any other choice but to keep him there, hope he improves, and find a way to trade him for prospects or something (assuming his bat continues to play).

It’s doubly imperative to keep him there, as Haniger left the game yesterday halfway through with an injury; we’ll see how long that keeps him out.

Anyway, yesterday was ALMOST perfect. The Mariners lost, which is important for us getting that top draft pick next year (still hanging tough with that 5th spot, 5 games back of Baltimore/Kansas City), but the Mariners were also entertaining in that loss! Hell, I was getting as hyped up as anyone with Vogelbach in there making life miserable for Houston’s pitching (he finished 2 for 5 with a run, an RBI, and 2 walks).

The only downside to the whole thing is, of course, the ballpark cutting off beer sales after 7 innings! There was DOUBLE that amount of baseball left to be played! We all ended up leaving the game early – some of us to go get another beer at a nearby bar – because we were TOO sober!

All in all, though, a pleasant way to spend a Thursday in early June.

The Astros Put The Mariners Out Of Their Misery

The Mariners went into the weekend series against the Astros 13-2, wildly successful against the dregs of the A.L. Central, a slow-starting Red Sox team, a mediocre Angels team, and an A’s team playing the villain in Japan. This weekend was to be the first real test since Expectations shifted ever-so-slightly.

And they just pounded us into submission. On Friday, it was a more traditional pounding, as the Astros clubbed two grand slams en route to a 10-6 victory. One could almost write it off, and find a silver lining in the Mariners’ scoring 6 runs yet again, but even those good vibes were countered by the loss of Wade LeBlanc to an oblique strain that will keep him out at least two months.

That makes Erik Swanson the first of the brand new pitching prospects to get his crack on our 25-man roster. Of course, he already made a relief appearance earlier in the week, but it’s looking like he’ll take LeBlanc’s role in the rotation, which should prove interesting. I can’t envision high hopes for him right out of the gate, but this was never supposed to be about Winning Now. If he improves over time, or at least shows flashes of potential, I’ll be hopeful.

As we got to Saturday and Sunday, it was time to face the Astros’ big guns. Would the Mariners’ New & Improved lineup pose a challenge to Verlander & Cole?

Well, Verlander gave up 1 run on 2 hits while walking 0 and striking out 11. The only thing our lineup was good for was to get his pitch count moderately high. He threw 105 across 6 innings, which simply means we prevented him from going 8 or 9 innings, because seriously his shit was filthy and we had no chance whatsoever (Felix put up a nice game, though, for what he is now; 6 innings of 3-run ball you’ll take every time).

The Mariners were only marginally better against Cole, who went 6 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, with 0 walks and 11 strikeouts on 101 pitches. Again, all we managed to do was keep their starter from the CG. Marco Gonzales did his damnedest, but he ultimately faltered in the 6th and the bullpen gave it away in the 7th.

So, now we’re 13-5. The Astros, in one 3-game series, clawed their way back to within a game of the M’s (tied in the loss column), and we can stop envisioning Ewing Theory scenarios. The 13-2 start was, as we all expected, just a hot streak that randomly happened at the very beginning of the season. The only thing the Mariners accomplished this weekend was to extend their streak of games to start a season with at least one home run, now at 18. I’ll be curious if we can get to the point where we start talking about the all-time Major League record for games with a home run regardless of whether or not it’s the start to a season.

The Mariners Messed With Some Of Texas

The last time I wrote about the Mariners, they just lost a demoralizing “home” series against the Blue Jays and were setting out on a 10-games-in-10-days road trip through the teeth of the American League West, starting with 7 down in the state of Texas.  So, let’s get into it.

Well, it feels like a million years ago, but last Monday we got a much-needed 12th inning win to open up the series against the Rangers.  Wade LeBlanc pitched exceedingly well, but was pulled with one out in the 7th after giving up just 2 hits all day on 82 pitches.  Newcomers Adam Warren and Zach Duke continued their Sucking For The Seattle Mariners campaign, giving up the tying runs, but the rest of the bullpen was good enough to keep it scoreless the rest of the way.  In the 12th, the M’s manufactured the go-ahead run, and Edwin Diaz came in to lock down his 42nd save.

Well, it feels like we’ve talked about it a million times, but last Tuesday was Felix’s last turn in the Mariners’ rotation for a while.  He got off to a great start, keeping it scoreless through two innings, then he (and the defense, thanks Kyle Seager) just fell apart.  Since our bullpen was so wiped out from the previous evening’s game, Felix had to wear it, giving up 11 runs (7 earned) in 6 innings.  I wish I could’ve seen the game where we had a clean defensive effort, because even though Felix was giving up hard contact, it was right at guys (Seager) who should’ve made those plays.  I know you can’t assume double plays (which is why he gave up as many earned runs as he did), but if we did assume some of those double plays, I think Felix would’ve looked a lot more competitive.  But, it is what it is, and you don’t yank a legend from the rotation based on one start alone.  He was essentially going start-by-start, and might’ve indeed been on borrowed time based on his prior outings.  You know how I feel about it; it makes me sad and I never would’ve pulled him from the rotation no matter how he pitched, but I’m in the obvious minority and it has no basis in reality or rooting for this team to succeed.  In almost every situation, I’m a fan of the team first and the player second; in this case I’m a Felix Hernandez fan first, and a Mariners fan, like, 10th.

In spite of that effort, the M’s had a chance to at least win the series, with the reliable Marco Gonzales on the mound, but it wasn’t meant to be.  He just didn’t have it – giving up 7 runs in 5 innings – and while the Mariners were able to put up 7 runs of our own, that wasn’t enough to power through these new bullpen arms.  Zach Duke gave up 4 runs on 4 hits in the 7th inning while only getting 2 outs, and there’s your ballgame.  What a fucking disaster of an addition.

So, yeah, heading into a 4-game series with the Astros, it was looking pretty grim.  On top of it, the Astros apparently shuffled their rotation so we had to run the gauntlet.

Game 1 – Paxton vs. Verlander.  The M’s knocked Verlander out after 2 innings (giving up 6 runs in the process), and we were able to hold on for an 8-6 win (Diaz got his 43rd save).

Game 2 – Leake vs. Cole.  Cole pitched into the 8th inning, but we were able to touch him up to the tune of 4 runs.  Leake went 6, giving up 2, and the bullpen held on for a comfortable 5-2 victory (Diaz got his 44th save).

Game 3 – LeBlanc vs. Morton.  Again, the M’s were able to get to their starter a little bit, as Morton went 6, giving up 3; and again, the Mariners’ starter held his own (LeBlanc went 5, giving up 2).  Both bullpens were clean in this one, and we won a nailbiter, this time 3-2 (Diaz got his 45th save).

Game 4 – Ramirez vs. Keuchel.  Erasmo Ramirez took Felix’s spot in the rotation, coming back from the DL.  Ramirez didn’t look great in the minors, but the M’s didn’t need great, they just needed reliable.  He gave us all more than we ever could’ve expected, going 5 shutout innings before giving way to the bullpen.  Alex Colome had pitched the three days prior, so he was out.  That left everyone else in play, which equates to Diaz (for a 4th game in a row) and a bunch of twits.  We were able to get 2 runs off of Keuchel, in his 7 innings of work, but we couldn’t hold that 2-0 lead for long.  Pazos and Vincent were the turds in this one, giving up 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th.  Shockingly, Warren and Duke were real heroes, putting up zeroes in multiple innings of work for each of them (by multiple innings, I mean 4 outs apiece).  The Mariners were able to spoil a save opportunity in the 9th, with a homer by Ryon Healy to tie it; and we took a 1-run lead in the 10th on a double by Haniger (with Dee Gordon running on the pitch from first base).  That was all we needed, as Diaz got his 46th save on the year (so close to an emaculate inning).

So yeah, that’s an interesting week of baseball to say the least!

The good news is, obviously, we picked up 4 games on the Astros when we absolutely needed them.  The bad news is we’re still 4 games back in the division.  We go to Oakland for a 3-game set (1.5 games out of the second wild card), almost certainly without the services of Edwin Diaz at least for Monday’s game.

It feels unfathomable – even with all of Houston’s injuries – that the Mariners should win ANY games down there, let alone sweep all four.  They’re going to need that impossible magic to continue if we hope to chip away against the A’s.

Mariners Lose To Astros Yet Again As Shit Gets Depressingly Real

With two games to go on the season series, the Mariners are 5-12 against the Astros.  I don’t want to put all the blame on them for the Mariners not making the playoffs this season, but if stupid fucking Major League Baseball had given us Arizona or Colorado instead of the fucking Astros when they realigned their divisions, we might be in the catbird’s seat right now.

Indeed, if you REALLY want to be depressed, you should check out the Mariners’ record against the Astros since they entered the A.L. West back in 2013.  Remember, at that time, the Astros were the very worst team in baseball.  In spite of that, the M’s were only 10-9 against them that first year.  In total, the Mariners are 40-53 in these five seasons, soon to be 40-55.  In that same span, here’s the Mariners’ records against the other A.L. West teams:

  • Anaheim – 44-48
  • Oakland – 56-36
  • Texas – 46-46

I mean, that’s unbelievable, right?  It’s not like the M’s have been all that great in the last five years, but there’s two winning seasons in there, with a chance for a third this year.  The M’s have been okay, but the Astros have had our number every step of the way!

Yesterday was no exception.  James Paxton returned, which was the good news; but he stunk and couldn’t get out of the second inning, which is the bad news.  Yovani Gallardo tried to keep us in the game, but failed as usual, and the Mariners lost 5-2.  Honestly, it felt lucky that the M’s could even manage those two runs.  So much for that hot offense spilling over into this series.

The Twins also lost, which is good I guess, so the Mariners are still 3.5 games back.  They’re going to need to lose a lot more if the Mariners are going to get swept in yet another Astros series.  Don’t forget, yesterday’s game was the only one this series where the Astros didn’t feature a Cy Young-calibre starter, as we’re set to face Keuchel and Verlander today and tomorrow.  Again, I would recommend you find something else to do with your weekend than watch our offense flail for 18 innings.

God fucking dammit I hate baseball.