When the Seattle Mariners’ 2014 schedule was released, not many people paid much attention to a mid-August series on the road against the Detroit Tigers. It’s kind of fun when the Mariners successfully play “spoiler,” or whatever you call it when bad teams disrupt a playoff race. Few dared to think the series would have the kind of significance it ended up having. And even fewer predicted it would end the way it did.
Seattle took two of three games from Detroit, outscoring the Tigers 17-7 in the process. They took a half-game lead in the race for the final wild card spot, then lost the lead, then grabbed it back again. They lost a close (and controversial) game with Felix Hernandez on the hill, then turned to Chris Young for a truly ace-caliber performance. It’s still somewhat of a mystery how this team does what it does.
Young vs. the Tigers today: six innings, four hits, one walk, four strikeouts, zero runs. His ERA is now that much closer to starting with a two, and his season has now gone beyond simple Mariners folklore and into the realm of the unforgettable. What in the hell, right? Chris Young barely made it onto this roster. Now he’s just another ace. A free, unconventional, unsustainable ace. An ace who still hasn’t quite made it to 1.0 WAR on the season.
Robbie Ray, the “big prize” the Tigers got for Doug Fister, sucked really bad in five innings on the hill. The first inning saw Dustin Ackley walk, Robinson Cano single, Kendrys Morales single for run number one, and Kyle Seager sac fly for run number two. Cano scored on a wild pitch for another run in the third, and Seager came around in the fifth on a Chris Denorfia triple. Closer-in-exile Jim Johnson came on to pitch the sixth, but by the time the inning was over three more runs had scored. The Tigers were throttled before they could so much as get a MLB pitcher into the game.
Another series, another huge success for the Mariners. This isn’t an unstoppable team, but right now it’s at least an impossibly fun one. Even if we expected the Mariners to contend late into the season, which we didn’t, it would have been hard to predict that the team would be so exciting and invigorating. This playoff run could go on forever for all I care. The way we feel about baseball today is amazing. It’s hard to fathom how joyful it is to be a Seattle Mariners fan right now.
Next up is a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies were most recently on your radar for standing pat at the trade deadline despite having an old and decrepid roster full of a whole lot of short-term pieces. Philadelphia’s fall from grace has been drawn out and exacerbated, and I’d almost feel bad for Phillies fans if they weren’t, you know, Phillies fans. 4:05 start tomorrow, with Roenis Elias and Jerome Williams. Jerome Williams is the 2014 Phillies, right down to you being surprised to hear he’s still around. Go Mariners! Pad that lead!