There’s no such thing as can’t-miss TV. Plenty of people don’t even watch any TV, ever, as in like literally zero television viewing, and they’re no worse for it. That being said, the only real reason for not watching tonight’s Seattle Mariners game is because you’re at it. Or listening on the radio. But… that’s it.
Felix Hernandez! Michael Pineda! The King’s Court! It’s not very nice out, so the roof is probably going to be closed. The place is going to be packed to see the Mariners open their three-game set against the New York Yankees, and a closed roof would all but ensure that this is the loudest game of the year. Things might get wild tonight, and the odds of an extremely entertaining game are high.
So the Yanks are here. The Bronx Bombers enter the series with a record of 26-25, which ties them with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East. They’ve scored 228 runs, and trail only the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays for most runs scored in the AL. And that’s kind of surprising, given what these Yankees were expected to be.
Also-rans, that is. Nobody ever expects the Yankees to be good these days, but this season especially they were seen as having no chance. Not with Mark Teixiera’s decline. Not after the season Brian McCann just had. And certainly not with Derek Jeter riding off into the sunset and Alex Rodriguez returning to DH every day.
Except Tex is raking, and A-Rod is raking, and McCann is raking. Jacoby Ellbsury and Brett Gardner have been the stars we expect them to be, and the offense has been chugging right along. What was supposed to be an awful weakness has instead been quite the strength. Funny how this whole baseball thing works.
The offense has flourished on the backs of those guys and basically only those guys, as the rest of the Yankees position players aren’t bringing much to the table. There’s been league average-ish offense from Chase Headley and Chris Young, though Headley’s surprisingly been bad defensively and Young hasn’t been sterling in the field himself. Carlos Beltran is having a bad year, and Stephen Drew is having a terrible year (again). Didi Gregorious has been a zero at short, and the bench hasn’t helped a whole lot either.
While it might not be fair to call this Michael Pineda’s breakout season, it’s certainly accurate to say that he’s putting it all together and emerging as a true number one starter. He’s had success before – when he’s been on the field he’s pretty much always excelled – but this is more than that. Right now, the only starter in the AL who can top Pineda’s 2.0 WAR is Corey Kluber.
CC Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi have struggled behind Pineda, but Masahiro Tanaka has been excellent when available and Adam Warren is at least keeping runs off the board. Really though this rotation rides on the health of Pineda and Tanaka, and there’s not much reason to believe that the rest of the group is going to turn it on all of a sudden. It’s a mediocre rotation at best, and one that is a couple precedented aches away from being miserable.
Enter Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, who have been just completely out of their minds this year at the back of the Yankees bullpen. Miller’s the closer with a 0.81 ERA, while Betances has a 0.00 ERA through 27.1 innings. With 1.4 WAR to his credit already, Betances has basically been as valuable as Felix Hernandez so far. As a reliever. His season has been one for the ages, as you could imagine.
Tonight’s game is the best ticket of the season, of course, but the next two matchups aren’t too shabby either. Mike Montgomery is prooooobably going to start for Seattle tomorrow, and the M’s will get a chance to light up Sabathia in his defense. After that it’s Taijuan Walker vs. Tanaka. Yeah, some pretty good sounding matchups indeed.
The Mariners and Yankees are both battling for position in weak divisions, and this series should prove pivotal to each of their respective seasons. It’s high-stakes baseball on June 1st between a team we love and a team we very much do not love! Can’t-miss TV. I know there’s no such thing, but that’s what this is.
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