Before the season started, the Seattle Mariners seemed like a pretty safe bet for 81 wins. Maybe a few more, maybe a few less. Probably a few less. If a lot of things break right, a team can outperform the safe bets, and look, that’s what’s happening with the M’s right now. Things are breaking right, the Mariners are five games over .500, and baseball is as fun as it’s been in years.
Today is June 9th. On June 1st, the Mariners beat the Tigers 4-0 on the strength of a Roenis Elias complete game. Three days later they beat the Braves 2-0. Yesterday Felix did what Felix did, and today Erasmo Ramirez pitched half of a shutout, then let the bullpen finish things up. The Mariners haven’t allowed a run since nineteen innings ago. The Mariners, right now, are on some kind of tear.
Erasmo Ramirez was… well, he didn’t allow any runs! He was pulled with one out to go in the fifth, having already thrown 88 pitches. He struck out five, which is great to see, but he walked five Rays, which is just miserable. That’s Chris Young territory. Actually, this whole start was super Young-y. He was even getting outs in the air! Total Chris Young move, Erasmo.
Resident hitting machine Robinson Cano was the difference maker on a day where David Price struck out ten in eight dazzling innings. The M’s did just enough to squeak a win, and they did it all in the third inning. Singles from John Buck, Willie Bloomquist, and James Jones gave Cano a bases loaded situation to work with, and he responded by dropping a double into left field. Two runs scored on the play, and another came in on Stefen Romero‘s subsequent groundout. Price struck out Mike Zunino to halt the M’s in their tracks, but this is a team obsessed with shutouts. Three runs was absolutely all the M’s would need, given the pitching they got today.
All the credit in the world goes to Joe Beimel, Dominic Leone, Danny Farquhar, and Fernando Rodney. That quartet combined for 4.1 innings of one-hit ball in completing the shutout. Those four have been the team’s best relievers and a quietly huge part of why the Mariners are five games over .500. They’ve combined for 95.1 innings and have contributed 1.6 WAR. The bullpen has been crazy good lately, and with Charlie Furbush turning things around, the relief corps can seem untouchable at times. Right now is one of those times. So kudos to the relievers, who are awesome and who we don’t talk about nearly enough.
The New York Yankees are coming to town for a three-game series starting tomorrow, and the most compelling matchup is on day one. Masahiro Tanaka, the current AL ERA leader and presumed Rookie of the Year frontrunner, faces off against his former mentor and teammate Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma was one of NPB’s top arms when Tanaka was breaking into the league as a young guy, and now the two are excelling in the majors. Iwakuma came in third in Cy Young balloting last year, and Tanaka seems to be on track to do something similar this year. If you haven’t yet watched Tanaka pitch, you’re in for a treat. He’s awesome. 7:10 start time. This would be a fun game to attend, if you’re in the area.