A sweep is an easy thing to imagine, an easier thing to wish for, and a tough thing to appreciate. The Seattle Mariners just took three of three from the Oakland Athletics. They’re now 5.5 games back of the division still-leading Houston Astros, whereas the A’s are 8.5 off the pace. That could have been the Mariners, you know. It could have been the M’s sitting at the bottom of the pile, feeling almost rightfully hopeless.
The current standing of the Oakland A’s should give us reason enough to appreciate what the M’s just did. The M’s have been on the opposite side of this coin, you know, and recently. It sucks. You go into a series hoping for the best, and then you get the worst. Happens to everyone, every once in a while. But then it was Houston doing the sweeping and Seattle sinking further and further away from contention. They’ve just about corrected that, now.
At 14-17, the Mariners still aren’t really where they want to be. That being said, they’re doing better than Baltimore, Cleveland, the White Sox, Texas, and Oakland, and they’ve got the same record as the Red Sox. The A’s now have the worst record in the league! Again, that could have been us. A win is often only a couple runs away from being a loss.
Like today’s win, for instance. The M’s won 4-3, giving Felix Hernandez his sixth straight victory. He’s 6-0 with a 1.85 ERA! He struck out his 2,000th career batter today! Marcus Semien took him deep twice, and then Stephen Vogt blasted a solo shot off Fernando Rodney in the top of the ninth. They won by one run. They won with talent, but a one-run win is almost always a precarious win. That’s what this was, despite a dominant King and a doubles offense that created its own opportunities.
The one before this was cleaner and easier, of course, with the Mariners riding ten hits to seven runs in support of J.A. Happ, who struck out eight in five innings. Every good team has a guy who comes from out of nowhere to provide way, way more than would be expected from them. Happ can be that guy. Eight strikeouts! Why not him? Seems like a good time to point out that Chris Young is off to a blazing start for the Royals right now.
Back up one day further and you have the team banding together to score three runs in support of an imperfect-to-put-it-politely Taijuan Walker, with the bullpen shaking their shakes in order to carry this game into the eleventh inning. The decisive fourth run came off the bat of Logan Morrison, who blasted a walk-off home run that had us biting our tongues, fighting off the temptation to prematurely label it a “turnaround” moment. But now, after two more wins, we might as well acknowledge the possibility.
The Mariners have us feeling good, and for good reason. They played some legitimately good baseball this weekend, and are now in a better position to succeed the rest of the way. They’re recovering well in all areas, moving on from a slow start and a terrible road trip. The rotation is much improved. The offense isn’t just Nelson Cruz. There’s Robinson Cano coming around, Seth Smith doing his thing, Kyle Seager hitting the ball hard… And have you noticed what the relief corps have been up to?
It’s May 10th. The season’s barely begun, and yet a large faction of Mariners fans are now starting to believe that it’s only now getting going. That’s kind of the general hope, really – the team’s done flopping around and is now about to start playing consistent good baseball. Today is a good day for hope – they swept the A’s, who are probably better than their record indicates. Even if Oakland turns out to be lousy, a win is a win. Three wins are three wins. The M’s swept, and we love them for it. They’re awesome.
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