Saturday afternoon in Seattle the Mariners won a game of baseball against the Oakland Athletics. It’s late September, and the Mariners are out of it, as they always are in late September, but this was a particularly encouraging game as far as these things go. The Mariners won in spite of the clutter on their roster, leaning heavily on the young guys who are expected to be major contributors going forward. The Mariners won this game with hot bats and an effective young starter. This was the Mariners winning the Jack Z way (youth) and not the Eric Wedge way (AARP and grit). As fans, we’re all rooting for the youth, so it’s nice when the youth repays our faith.
Brandon Maurer got the nod and had himself a third consecutive good outing. His line: five and a third innings, six hits, two earned runs, a walk, and five strikeouts. He wasn’t untouchable or anything, but he kept the ball in the park and really limited free passes. He struck out MVP dark horse Josh Donaldson twice – swinging in the first and looking in the fifth. Donaldson’s a pretty great hitter and not a high K guy by any means, so kudos to Maurer, who ends his season on about as high of a note as he could. His ERA is 6.30, but hey, he got thrown into action, can hardly blame him for not being ready when he obviously wasn’t ready. These last three starts have been his best. His ERA is 6.30, but he’s made his case for why it should be partly overlooked.
Maurer’s outing was backed by three home runs, the first of which came in the second with a runner on base and Justin Smoak at the plate. Smoak’s blast was left-handed, but hey so what, twenty bombs. Justin Smoak has hit twenty home runs this year, and maybe he’s alright. Brad Miller was the hero, launching a solo shot in the third and a grand slam in the fifth. Dustin Ackley, Mike Zunino, and Nick Franklin all singled before Miller drove the ball over the right field wall. Of the shortstop’s eight home runs this year, six have come coupled together like this. Five games, eight homers. Brad Miller may be small sample size noise, but he also may be an excellent player in the making.
The Mariners take the field today at 1:10 for the last time this season, with Erasmo Ramirez trying to build on some recent success of his own. After that we get to watch other non-Mariners teams play meaningful games, and then we get months and months of rumors and signings and trades and a new manager and hopefully nobody trying too hard to save their jobs. This game is the last opportunity to watch engaging new Seattle Mariners on-field action for a long, long time. Put that way and it’s kind of sad. It’s also kind of not sad at all.