For the first week of his Seattle Mariners career, Austin Jackson amasssed a total of 0.0 WAR. He did this by slapping zero extra-base hits, hardly getting on base, and playing competent defense. Mostly it’s just hard to produce noticeable value over a span of a week, but to many in Seattle it was easy to see what was about to happen. The Mariners trade for an established player, who then begins to crumble upon his arrival in the Emerald City.
Except that the other thing about a week’s worth of data is that it can all look drastically different after a couple of at-bats, and sure enough, Jackson now looks the part of a major contributor after a big day at the plate in Sunday’s 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox. Seattle’s center fielder and leadoff man drove in all four runs as part of a three-hit effort.
Most of the fun was had with two outs in the second inning. John Danks retired Kyle Seager and Chris Denorfia before allowing consecutive singles to Logan Morrison, Chris Taylor, and Jesus Sucre. Up stepped Jackson, who drilled a bases-clearing double down the line and into the corner. Want to score three runs? String together four hits. The Mariners have got the formula.
Erasmo Ramirez came up to make the start, and had a nice little outing going for himself through four innings. He allowed no runs on four hits and a walk while striking out two, but was pulled with one out in the fifth despite having only thrown 68 pitches. Lloyd McClendon didn’t like what he was seeing, as Ramirez was missing spots and running out of gas.
The manager made the early move to his rested bullpen, who did what they always do in shutting things down. Dominic Leone was spotless, Tom Wilhelmsen allowed a solo homer, and Fernando Rodney small-balled in a run while holding tight to the lead. Jackson, of course, extended that lead with a seventh-inning RBI single. What a day for the guy. It’s nice to have him here.
Taylor and Denorfia each had a pair of hits, while Robinson Cano drew two walks to have himself a quietly nice game. Even when he’s held hitless the dude’s always on base. What a maniac. Taylor, by the way, has his batting average up to .400. Yeah, they always start out like this, but maybe this is the one who sticks? At this point Brad Miller might be a week away from Tacoma. Taylor doesn’t seem keen to give back any of the playing time he’s earned.
Today is Felix Day. The Toronto Blue Jays will be his opponent, and yes, we’re talking about the same Toronto Blue Jays who are tied with the Mariners in the wild card race. Both teams are 1.5 games back of Kansas City, who hasn’t lost in a week. Remember how the White Sox series was the most important of the season? The M’s survived that, and now the Toronto series is the most important of the season.
What’s extra fun about this coming set is that Seattle’s proximity to the great white north always leads to an influx of Jays fans, meaning this wild card race has a chance to come alive at Safeco Field. Tonight it’ll be a sea of yellow vs. a sea of maple syrup, and things can only be expected to get crazier from here on out. Neither of these teams has been to the playoffs in over a decade, and both are chasing a team who hasn’t been since 1985. This is a high-energy, high-stakes playoff race. This is why there’s a second wild card.