Nelson Cruz, Brad Miller, And A Win


The 2015 Seattle Mariners have lost more games than they’ve won. The season’s five games old, and three of those games have been losses. But it could have been four. It so easily could have been four, and we’d be talking about a 1-4 team that had fallen into a hole the same size as the cushion they stood on through five games a year ago. Remember how much that head start meant to them?

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Things have been rough for the M’s since Felix Hernandez‘s opening day gem. That was five days ago now, and all the Mariners had done since was lose. They lost at home, they lost on the road, they lost to Los Angeles of Anaheim, they lost to Oakland. Sure, it was just three losses, but there had only been one win. Three feels like a lot, when compared to one.

Today the Mariners won. They won largely because of J.A. Happ. This strikes us as an unlikely result, if only because we just watched Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker suffer uncharacteristic implosions to start their year. We can try not to project an entire season based on a debut, but it’s a hard reaction to avoid. Iwakuma’s getting old. Walker’s missing something. But when it’s a positive – hey, maybe Happ is going to be alright! – then maybe we should at least let ourselves have a little fun. If only a little.

This game wasn’t won on the bat of Nelson Cruz, but that’s absolutely where things turned. Or maybe it was Lloyd McClendon’s challenge that signaled the re-energizing of the 2015 season? It wasn’t until another pitching meltdown and a pair of extra innings that Brad Miller got the chance to win this game. And it wasn’t until Miller’s heroics that Fernando Rodney got to shoot his arrow.

Marcus Semien‘s foot never touched second base. You couldn’t really tell live, and on replays it didn’t even look concrete. But McClendon challenged, and after a lengthy review Austin Jackson was safe on second with only one out. Robinson Cano sacrificed the runners to second and third, and in came Dan Otero. All Cruz needed was a ball in play, but he instead opted to send one over the fence.

Danny Farquhar quickly erased Seattle’s newfound lead, though Oakland didn’t quite manage to grab control of the game. Nothing was decided until the eleventh, when Miller doubled off the wall and Logan Morrison scored from first. Then Rodney, then the arrow, then 2-3. So much better than 1-4.

Have you lost count of how many times Cruz has popped it up already this year? Seems like a couple times a game. He didn’t need to be swinging for the fences, given the runners in scoring position. Maybe he shouldn’t have been trying to hit a home run, given all the infield flies. Yet he did what he does, and it worked. Good on Cruz.

Did you think Miller was a lock to rebound this year? He still isn’t you know, though that doesn’t make his first week any less encouraging. He entered the game hot, cooled down during regulation, and then won the damn thing with another hard hit. He’s been the team’s best hitter so far. Reminder: his defense is excellent, too.

Tomorrow the M’s get a shot at winning their first series of the year. They get to try with Felix on the mound. The season may still be brand new, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a turnaround. Easier to build off of 2-3 than it is 1-4, that’s for sure.