The recent collapse of the Oakland Athletics, along with continued strong play from the Seattle Mariners, has made the wild card race a little more interesting. Before it seemed cut and dry: Los Angeles would host someone, probably the Mariners, and likely anihilate them. But now the Angels have their playoff spot locked down, and Oakland’s struggling to keep their grip on home field advantage for a day in September. Oh, and Detroit is tied with Kansas City again. So yeah, things are interesting.
Seattle, of course, had the chance to pull even with Oakland today. We already knew that wasn’t going to happen after the A’s beat the White Sox 11-2 earlier this evening, but the M’s could at least keep pace and retain posession of the second wild card with a win. It’s just the Houston Astros, right? But the Houston Astros now have Collin McHugh, Excellent Pitcher. And tonight that was simply too much to overcome.
McHugh, the Astros’ spot-starter-turned-ace, had no problem in holding the Mariners to two hits over eight innings. One of those hits was a powerful Logan Morrison solo home run, but other than that it was nothing short of eye-popping dominance from McHugh. He walked none and had the Mariners beating themselves at the plate. It was brutal.
Roenis Elias was no slump himself, striking out four and walking two while allowing a run on six hits over six innings. The outing lowered his ERA to 3.81, which is still just so amazing. But a team can only go so far while scoring one run. The offensive performance was enough to spare Elias an L, but it wasn’t enough to win the game.
Lloyd McClendon probably stuck with Yoervis Medina too long tonight, though some tantalizing swinging strikes from Jake Marisnick no doubt influenced the decision to leave him in. After getting Marisnick for the second out of the eighth, Medina walked Jon Singleton. A long at-bat from Matt Dominguez ended with an infield hit that made it first and third, bringing up number nine hitter Jonathan Villar. Villar punched a 1-1 fastball into right, scoring the deciding run. When Medina’s on, he looks great, but he’s always on the verge of letting his pitches get away from him. Hopefully this is the longest we ever see his leash in a situation like this.
So the Mariners lose one to the Astros. Yeesh. The Tigers beat the Royals, and so now those two clubs are tied for first in the AL Central. They’re also each sporting a record that bests the M’s by half a game, so the Mariners are just barely outside the playoffs right now. There are the A’s, two games ahead of them. Things are so bunched up and there’s so many moving parts, which is why it’s so important to just never, ever lose ever again. I kid, but barely.