On Saturday night, the Mariners played a game that made fans across the region hyperventilate out both ends of the body, but thankfully, the M’s walked away with a close victory. Edwin Diaz did everything he could to make the game dramatic, throwing 18 strikes in 40 pitches, and nearly blowing the game, after giving up three walks, and loading the bases. But Diaz got the save, and Mariners nation all threw down their paper bags in unison and resumed normal breathing, as the Mariners walked away with a 9-7 victory over the last-place Texas Rangers.
The offense kicked into high gear after a one week absence, scoring nine runs on 13 hits, including one of the most satisfying moments in recent Mariner memory. In the top of the fourth inning, Nelson Cruz launched a ball off of Bartolo Colon, that was hit so hard it could not be measured by Statcast. It drifted foul, coming so close to the pole that the umpires needed to go to replay to make absolutely sure that he hadn’t earned a home run. The umps ruled it foul, and on the very next pitch, Nelson hit another one, this time in fair territory to left field, to bring the Mariners to within one run, at 4-3.
After the Rangers scored a run in the bottom of the fourth, to stretch their lead to 5-3, the Mariners answered back in the sixth, with a sacrifice fly from Mitch Haniger, bringing the M’s within one. And then, in the seventh, the offense erupted. After the M’s tied in on an RBI double from lean mean fighting machine Jean Segura, Robbie Cano hit just about the slowest home run ever seen on a baseball diamond. On a hanging curveball from Rangers lefty Alex Claudio, Cano poked a ball deep to right field. The ball kept drifting, back, back, and over the fence at 97 mph, to give the Mariners an 8-6 lead. Three batters later, off new pitcher Chris Martin, Mitch Haniger smashed another homer to pad the lead to 9-6. The Mariners scored five runs in the inning, taking a lead that they would (barely) never relinquish. In the seventh, Dan Altavilla came in, and did ok, going 1 1/3 with one walk and one hit before bafflingly being lifted for supposed lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski. Scrabble didn’t do too much damage, allowing one hit and one walk before being pulled in favor of Diaz. Diaz then did the baseball equivalent of juggling valuable artifacts while walking on a tightrope, but he got the job done, in the end.
The bullpen has shown itself to be a roller-coaster ride of emotion as of late, but the offense keeps the Mariners forever within striking distance. Against the immortal talents of Big Sexy, the top of the lineup delivered. The top four hitters went a combined 10-for-20, with two home runs and seven RBI. As a team, the Mariners rank eighth in MLB with a 106 WRC+, and 10th with 22 home runs. Which is extremely fortunate, as the Mariners also have the seventh-worst FIP in baseball, at 4.61.
But alas, that is a battle for another day. For as bad as the bullpen has shown it can be, I truly believe that the offense will keep this team in contention throughout the season. As long as Scrabble is not still getting innings in late September. Now, with two victories against the Rangers, the M’s can finish off the sweep on Sunday, with Erasmo Ramirez on the hill. Ramirez will be facing Martin Perez, a pitcher who comes into the game with a 2.92 WHIP, and an ERA of 13.14. You read that right. 13.14.
Also, keep a close eye on Mitch Haniger. Haniger has 19 RBI on the season, tied for most among right fielders in MLB with Bryce Harper. Haniger is a star in the making. I’m predicting a big couple of games for him in the next few days, against mediocre pitching from the Rangers and White Sox. In the meantime, GOMS., and prayers up to Danny Farquhar.