The Seattle Mariners have been a pleasant surprise for most of the 2014 season, but only recently does it seemto really be sinking in that this team might actually be good. The morning began with this Buster Olney tweet, giving the Mariners national recognition for their stupendous run differential. Jon Heyman wrote an article about the Mariners as a surprise contender searching for upgrades. The local papers are rightfully fawning over the team’s season to date. People notice the Mariners right now, and not for the same reasons that we notice brutal car crashes on the highway. It’s been a while since this was the case.
For the second time in two nights, the M’s thrashed the defending world champion Boston Red Sox. With an 8-2 win, the M’s pushed their run differential up to +52 and their projected wins total to 84. This team looks like a real contender, whether you’re going by basic or fancy stats, and back-to-back drubbings of Boston only help the cause. No wonder people are noticing the Mariners – people tend to notice good teams. It would appear that the Mariners, somehow, are a good team.
This was a blowout win in which Seattle’s starting pitcher was putrid. Erasmo Ramirez has got to be throwing hurt. He’s way off right now and has been for a long time. It was a foregone conclusion that he was going to need surgery a year ago, but he’s since opted for rest and rehab and the results have been awful. If he’s not throwing hurt, then he’s just bad now, I guess. Whatever the case, he was again lucky enough to not be seriously burned for his crappy pitching.
Ramirez threw 93 pitches in his 4.1 inning outing, with only 49 of them going for strikes. He only struck out two batters while allowing five hits and, most alarmingly, five walks. Brock Holt took him deep for a two run homer, which, on the bright side, was the only Boston offense on the evening. Joe Beimel, Danny Farquhar, Charlie Furbush, and Yoervis Medina provided lights-out relief work for the rest of the outing, effectively saving Erasmo’s rear. The M’s were lucky to both have limited the damage and provided enough offense to overcome most any defecit.
Taijuan Walker, of course, started in Tacoma, and he didn’t need any relievers to come cover for him. The M’s top prospect tossed his first-ever complete game shutout, a four-hit affair with eight strikeouts and a solitary walk. Everything was working for him and his fastball ripped into the upper 90’s. The team is unlikely to absolutely forget about Walker’s earlier struggles, but they’ve made it an open secret that they want Walker to take over Ramirez’s rotation spot. This might do the trick, then. We’ll see.
The offense, of course, put on a big show for Seattle. Endy Chavez tripled for the second game in a row as part of a three-hit effort. Neat! The M’s pushed two runs across in the first on a Chavez single, James Jones walk, Kyle Seager double, and Logan Morrison sac fly. In the second inning it was a Brad Miller walk and Endy’s three bagger. Seager had a three-run homer in the fifth, and two batters later, Mike Zunino crushed a solo shot. Zunino, by the way, leads AL catchers in long balls. He’s 23 years old, an elite up-the-middle defender, and has obvious room to develop into one hell of a hitter. He also singled in the eighth and scored when Miller dribbled one into center field.