You’d think that an American League team, naturally built for American League ball, would tend to field a worse lineup when forced to play in a National League park. That’s probably true on the whole, but the Seattle Mariners aren’t any team. The Seattle Mariners are a team that has primarily used Stefen Romero (.196/.250/.313 with a 56 wRC+) at DH as of late. Take him out of the lineup in favor of the pitcher, and there’s one less gaping hole! And, as it turned out, one more unlikely weapon off the bench.
Erasmo Ramirez was recalled and got shelled. Over three innings he allowed five runs, including four on long balls from Evan Gattis and B.J. Upton. He struck out four for his troubles while only walking one, but it’s hard to overlook a bunch of hard-hit balls when that’s been what’s kept Ramirez from being a quality big league starter for the last year. And besides, three innings. So Ramirez is back, at least until Taijuan Walker is healthy. He was really bad today, but then again so was Walker, at AAA. We’ll see if they swap places.
Incidentally, it was the decision to lift Erasmo after only three frames that ended up keeping the Mariners in the game. Romero, assuming his rightful spot on the bench, was called upon to pinch hit for the pitcher’s spot in the top of the fourth with runners on first and second. The result? Why, a three-run home run, of course; not enough to chase Gavin Floyd, but enough to bring the Mariners back from an assumedly unsurmountable three-run deficit.
Each team had put five on the board by the middle of the fourth, but the tone of the game shifted dramatically from that point forward. After the starters each got knocked around the relief corps for each side took control, with Dominic Leone in particular standing out. Leone pitched the sixth and seventh, striking out four and not allowing a baserunner. You know who’s turned out to be a really nice relief pitcher this year? Dominic Leone. Whooda thunkit. Braves swingman Alex Wood pitched two nice innings, except for a couple of game-changing blemishes.
John Buck started in place of Mike Zunino, who has had a rather hefty workload this year by starting catcher terms. Buck’s a capable backup, but the team’s clearly placed a tremendous amount of value on Zunino’s defense and development. Buck made the most of it with a three-hit night, including a homer off of Wood in the seventh. Dustin Ackley scored on the bomb, and that capped the scoring. A nice come-from-behind win, finished off by a wrong-jersey-wearing Fernando Rodney.
Your daily reminder that this Mariners team is somehow not awful: 30-28 with a +23 run differential that’s fourth-best in the American League. They’re half a game behind the Angels for second in the AL West, and overtaking the Angels means taking the wild card lead. Terrible teams don’t challenge for the wild card lead, which means the Mariners aren’t terrible. The Mariners are good! Wow!