Remember what Dustin Ackley was going to be, back in 2009? He was going to be Chase Utley, but perhaps with a higher ceiling. Didn’t that seem possible? Didn’t that seem not unreasonable? It’s 2014 now, and Utley’s better than Ackley, and probably always will be. But Ackley’s hot right now, and so it’s hard not to think back to 2009, or 2011. He debuted two years after being drafted and was excellent. He then sucked for a few years, but now looks so alive. Who’s to say he doesn’t still have some star potential left?
Ackley had a big day at the plate this afternoon. That’s what he’s been doing, lately. It wasn’t just him, though – it was Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano, too. Even Kendrys Morales chipped in with a pair of timely hits! The top of the lineup won this one. The top of the lineup is good, maybe, and today they did it all.
Jackson reached base three times, singling twice and drawing a walk. Ackley missed the cycle by a triple, muscling a third inning solo home run out to right to tie the game. Cano hit a home run in the fifth with both Jackson and Ackley on base, then was hit by a pitch in the same situation four innings later. After that base-loading ball off the thigh, Morales smacked his second hit of the game, a two-run single. The Mariners scored six runs, but they only used four lineup spots to do so.
James Paxton made his long-awaited return from the disabled list, with mixed results. His outing was a short one – 4.1 innings – and he used all of 83 pitches to get there. He struck out five, but also struggled to find the zone at times and issued three walks. Caleb Joseph took him deep in the fifth. It was a mixed bag of a game, but at least we collectively know better than to judge a guy based on one start, let alone his first after a long absence. We’ll find out more about Paxton soon enough.
Fernando Rodney made things awfully interesting in the bottom of the ninth, so I guess you could say this one was the full Fernando Rodney Experience. Rodney got a quick out before walking Steve Pearce. Pearce moved up on a groundout, then Ryan Flaherty singled to bring him home. A Nick Markakis single put a runner at third and the tying run to the plate. But Manny Machado grounded out, ending the O’s threat.
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Chris Tillman at 10:35am tomorrow. Sometimes I hear people call Tillman the O’s “ace.” That’s cute. People don’t call Iwakuma the Mariners’ “ace” that often. He has less walks this season than he does vertebrae. The M’s could really use another series win, and hey look, Toronto lost today! Hopefully it’s only a few days before we’re laughing for ever thinking the wild card was slipping out of reach.