Having just wrapped up a frustrating series loss to the rival Los Angeles Angels, the Seattle Mariners were looking to make up some lost ground. With the Angels playing the first-place Baltimore Orioles and the Mariners playing the Mets-place New York Mets, the opportunity seemed there for the taking. Tonight, the Mariners reached out and took that opportunity.
In beating the Mets 5-2, the Mariners took care of their end of the bargain. In beating the Angels 4-2, the Orioles took care of their end of a bargain they almost certainly didn’t make, let alone know about. The result? A one-game gain in the quest for home field advantage in the AL wild card play-in game. But with Oakland inactive today, this was also a half-game gain in the race for the AL West crown.
That’s no joke, of course – while it’s true that the M’s gained ground in the division today, it may seem goofy to act as if they have any kind of serious shot at winning the West. While passing either the A’s or Angels is possible, it’s hardly plausible. But it’s worth remembering from time to time that it’s possible, though doubly unlikely, that the M’s could pass the A’s and the Angels between now and season’s end. Might as well consider all options.
Back to the subject, which is this particular game. The M’s won despite Roenis Elias leaving with an injury after 5.1 innings. We’re told it’s cramps, no more, no less. This is encouraging, since a major injury would be a critical blow to the M’s always-fragile yet currently intact pitching depth. Elias struck out eight and walked two while allowing only one run. It was more than a nice start – it was a stellar rebound from his first extended big league scuffles. He threw ninety pitches, and doesn’t seem likely to miss any time before his next scheduled start.
The M’s worked some offensive magic against Jon Niese, including big games from Willie Bloomquist (?) and Dustin Ackley (?!), who had three hits apiece. Mike Zunino‘s third inning solo homer was the real star, a moonshot that put the M’s in the lead for good. Robinson Cano snapped an 0-for-9 (such a long hitless streak, for him and nobody else) with a double in the eighth that set up the team’s fifth and final run. Kyle Seager had two hits! Cano and Seager, man. So that’s what $240,500,000 can buy you.
With Fernando Rodney‘s arrows still stuck somewhere in the seats at Angel Stadium, Danny Farquhar was the M’s closer again for the night. He allowed a flukey run while striking out two, and capped yet another brilliant performance by a bullpen that’s being increasingly referred to as the best in baseball. Brandon Maurer, Charlie Furbush, and Dominic Leone also turned in scoreless performances, and it served as a reminder as to what those guys could be. Maurer could still be a broken starter. Furbush looked broken in April. Leone could be a minor leaguer still. Farquhar is still an out-of-nowhere sensation. Bullpens are so weird. This bullpen could plausibly be the worst a year from now. But today, they’re the best.
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Jacob deGrom tomorrow at 7:10pm. If Travis d’Arnaud starts at catcher, as he usually does, then the whole Mets battery will have last names that start with a lower-case D. That’s disgusting and insane. d’Arnaud, by the way, was the victim of the best play of Dustin Ackley’s career, a leaping robbery of a home run thanks to a perfectly-timed grab at the wall. Ackley’s a real trade candidate, and despite his career to date you can see why he’d have appeal right now as a major leaguer. The M’s could use another win, so put your trust in Erasmo! Always the right thing to do.