By The BS Show
I was watching the Mariners game at home on Tuesday afternoon, tucked into the dark repose of my living room, the blinds drawn as me and my Swedish skin avoided the hot sun blazing outside. It was the first inning of the Mariners game, and Marco Gonzales was on the mound against the objectively bad Chicago White Sox. The first batter of the game reached base on a single. The next batter, Yolmer Sanchez, hit a single as well. I sighed and readied myself for another long day of Mariners pitching, which only a night before had surrendered 10 runs to the pale hose.
But Marco proved me wrong. Over the next six innings, Gonzalez allowed only three more hits, and one walk, while striking out a season-high eight batters, as the Mariners won game two of the three-game series, 1-0.
Marco has been one of the best and unluckiest pitchers on the Mariners staff. His standard season numbers are not great, as he is currently 2-2, with a 4.37 ERA. But over his past two starts, he has allowed three earned runs, with two walks and 16 strikeouts. He received little run support in his last start against the Astros, a problem he faced again on Tuesday. But his FIP is an impressive 2.60, and his fWAR stands at 0.7, tops among Mariners pitchers. His biggest problem has been bad luck, evidenced by his ridiculous and unsustainable BABIP of .406. With time, that number should regress toward the mean. If it does, and Marco stays at his current performance level, the Mariners starting staff starts to look a bit more stable.
It’s been a precarious balance between the offense and the pitching this season. Runs need to be scored at a high clip for this ballclub to succeed. The Mariners are 7-1 in games where they score more than four runs, and in games where they score four runs or less, they sit at 4-9. The offense is of the utmost importance to this team, with a pitching staff that remains an enigma from game to game. So going in the late innings, against a team with Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu in the lineup, I was a tad nervous.
The Mariners got their one run from the man who is so hot right now, he is almost literally on fire. Mitch Haniger hit an RBI single in the fourth inning to score Kyle Seager, and miraculously, that is all the M’s would need. My stress level boosted into overdrive in the seventh when Marc Rzepczynski was brought in to face a batter, but the bullpen did Scott Servais proud. Edwin Diaz came on in the ninth and was throwing a 100-mph RISING fastball, which scientists in labs across America agree, should not be possible.
Before we go, let’s just discuss Mitch Haniger. Haniger is tied with Bryce Harper for most home runs in baseball by a right fielder, with eight. He is tenth in the AL with a .321 batting average, and is also tenth in MLB amongst all players with a 1.3 WAR. Finally, Haniger is tied for second in MLB with 24 RBIs. Mitch is having his Mariners breakout party, and you are all invited.
The Mariners will wrap up their series with the Southsiders on Wednesday, with a 11:10 a.m. start time. Felix Hernandez toes the rubber against James Shields.