For five days, the Seattle Mariners were unbeatable. Fall behind by a couple runs early in the game? No problem, that’s why they invented late inning rallies. Score a few runs in the first? That’ll probably be enough, given the pitching. When this team hits a winning streak, they feel unbeatable. So while it sucks that the Mariners lost today, it’s not as bad as it feels. We knew they weren’t unbeatable, even if it didn’t feel like we knew that.
James Paxton pitched and was excellent. That’s all there is to him, I guess – he takes the hill and dominates. His career to date has been unreal, and today he added to that with six innings of one-run ball. He struck out three, which isn’t a lot, and walked two, which is also not a lot but is also almost three. He had hitters pounding the ball into ground more often than not, which is how you succeed without strikeouts. Paxton is good at succeeding.
The real story of this game is going to be Derek Holland, who was once one of many injured Rangers but is now one of very few non-injured Rangers. Holland made his second start of the season, and it was also his second excellent start of the season. Over seven innings he struck out five and walked none, allowing only six hits. Only two M’s got extra bases against him – Robinson Cano and Jesus Sucre, with doubles. Other than that, there were no serious scoring threats.
Without runs there’s no win, and so the Mariners were losers on a night that their pitching staff performed brilliantly. Dominic Leone and Lucas Luetge faced a batter each, with both guys getting a strikeout. Taijuan Walker came on in relief and took it from there, throwing 1.1 innings with a strikeout and no walks. Whenever a need opens up in the rotation, Walker’s there. And he sure seems ready.
Detroit won today. Kansas City won today. Oakland lost today. The Mariners didn’t lose ground in the race for the first wild card, but they did see their grip on the second wild card loosen a little. No loss is easy to swallow in this situation, and today is no exception. It’s perfectly understandable that the Mariners couldn’t do anything about Holland, who is excellent. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.
The Mariners are coming home! Or they already are home, I’m not in any position to monitor the team’s travel schedule. The Houston Astros come to town tomorrow night for a 7:05 game featuring Brad Peacock and King Felix Hernandez. Corey Kulber has now passed Felix in WAR, which means the King no longer has the option of backing his way into the Cy Young award. If he wants the hardware he’s going to have to have a brilliant September, which is something he’s historically struggled to do. Can the Astros play spoiler on the M’s playoff hopes and their ace’s Cy quest? Who knows! I sure hope not!