Mariners won last night on a 3-run homer by designated hitter Adam Lind. Lind’s walk-off homer is the fourth time the Mariner’s have done that, leading the majors in that category.
The win takes some of the sting out of the horrific month of June which put’s them at 7-14 for the month and for the first time since April 23rd, at .500 for the season.
Granted, we all know that teams will go thru some rough patches and this version of the Mariners does at least, for the most part, stay in games unlike last year, where if the opposing team got any kind of lead, they folded up like a cheap tent.
Injuries haven’t helped matters much with starters Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker and Wade Miley out for extensive periods of time. And the fact that the rest of the staff, sans Hisashi Iwakuma, can’t get past the 5th inning, which depletes the bullpen and in turn, have been battered around by opposing teams.
There are signs of hope though. James Paxton seems to have found a groove and with his new arm slot location, has been hitting in the 95-98 mph on his fastball, occasionally hitting 100 mph to go along with a good curveball and slider.
Last night’s starting pitcher, Wade LeBlanc just recently traded for the infamous “player to be named later” was thrust into the starting rotation. The left-hander channeled a favorite Mariner icon, one Jamie Moyer with a quality change-up and pin-point control, holding the Cardinals to zero runs, three hits and one walk in six innings.
The Mariners did there best to give back the game in the eight inning when the Cardinals scored three runs without the benefit of a hit. Relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit did the most damage, walking the lead-off hitter and then promptly hitting the next one, and then walking the next two to force in a run that tied the game.
Next was the debut of Donn Roach but I can’t blame him for giving up the two runs. He did what he was supposed to do and that was to induce the Cardinal’s Matt Holliday to hit the ball on the ground. But the normally sure-handed Mariner 3rd baseman Kyle Seager misjudged the 103 mph grounder for an error and off it went into left field allowing two runs to score.
But baseball is a funny game and more often than not, it allows for players to amend any screw-ups they may have made. Seager came back by hitting a double and Dae-Ho Lee, the Mariners most pleasant surprise this season, worked Cardinal closer Trevor Rosenthal for a walk, setting up Adam Lind’s heroics in the ninth.
Here are some things we can take away about the Mariners during this nasty stretch:
- Seventh best hitting team in the American League with a .259 team batting average.
- Second in the American League in runs scored with 359.
- Second in the American League in home runs with 110.
- Second in the American League in RBI with 347.
- Fourth in the American League with a .326 OPB percentage
- Fourth in the American League with a .437 slugging percentage
- Second in the American League pitching staff with 630 strikeouts of opposing batters
- Second in American League with an ERA of 3.78 runs per game
Newsflash: Despite recent play, this team is pretty good.
Right now the Mariners are banged up but still in contention for a Wild Card spot. And with some luck (and hopefully the Texas Rangers go into a spin late), they might even have a shot at winning the American League West title.
What I hope happens when Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker and Wade Miley return from their injuries is that they keep James Paxton in the rotation and send Nathan Karns down to the minors to figure out how to get past five innings.
So down the stretch, the Mariners starting rotation would be:
Keep Wade LeBlanc for long relief and spot starts.
With the exception of Walker (and I think that it’s a short term issue), all of the starters have the ability to go at least seven innings each time they pitch. Now you have an effective bullpen that only needs to work 3 innings a game instead of 5 or sometimes 6. That can only make the bullpen that much more effective.
Mariners are going to be OK….they have too much talent to be out of it right now.