By Shane Lantz
The BS Show
Oh Canada. What a series this was. From a historic night of bedlam under a domed sky in the Great White North, to an offensive explosion that saw a ball be sent toward its dreams of powered flight, the three-game series the Mariners just finished up in Toronto was one of the best of the year. Kyle Seager should be elected mayor of Toronto, serving under Prime Minister James Paxton.
Friday night, James Paxton threw the sixth no-hitter in Mariners history, and it was his second-best start of the week. After striking out 16 batters against the A’s last Wednesday, Paxton made history by pitching a Maddux-style no-no. He did it in 99 pitches, walking three batters, and striking out seven. After Kyle Seager’s diving stop in the seventh inning to save the no-no, it was destiny.
But we’ve covered that game already. So onward we go. The next night, things didn’t go quite as well. Wade “Saruman” LeBlanc pitched a good game, although he was puzzlingly lifted after only five innings and 58 pitches. LeBlanc gave up only one run on four hits, and the Mariners went into the eighth inning with a one run lead. Set-up man Juan Nicasio was brought in to protect the lead, and promptly blew it, surrendering four earned runs on five hits in only ⅓ of an inning. This gave the Blue Jays a 5-2 lead, which would be the final margin of victory.
Nicasio has been an enigma this year. After a bumpy start to the season, he seemed to settle into a stable set-up man, eighth inning role. But since May 1st, Nicasio has a WHIP of 2.77, a BABIP against of .647, and an ERA of 14.54. His FIP for the season is at 4.11, which isn’t terrible, but an ERA of 6.00, and a wOBA 0f .375 leaves a bit to be desired. It isn’t close to the time to pull the plug on Nicasio quite yet, but getting Nick Vincent a few looks as the set-up guy wouldn’t hurt. Nicasio is a former starter, and perhaps he could benefit from some longer outings as a long reliever. With options like Nick Vincent available to set things up for Edwin Diaz, Scott Servais should at least consider giving Vincent a chance.
Thursday was Kyle Seager’s day entirely. In the first inning, Seager came up with the bases loaded, and blasted a Grand Salami off of former Mariner J.A. Happ, to give the Mariners a quick 4-0 lead. Then in the fifth, Seager hit a solo shot off reliever Jake Petricka. Mike Zunino also had a home run, off the facade of the second deck, a ball that traveled 431 feet. And Ryon Healy hit one too! In all, the Mariners banged out 17 hits, en route to a 9-3 victory. On the pitching side, Mike Leake looked like the Mike Leake of old, going seven innings, and giving up two runs, six hits, and only one walk.
And now, five weeks into the season, the Mariners are 21-15, with only two series losses all year, and a very enticing stretch of the schedule coming up. For the remainder of May, the M’s are not scheduled to play a team that is currently at .500 or better. They will play the Tigers , Twins, and A’s on the road, while facing the Rangers, Tigers, and Twins at the friendly confines of Safeco Field. If ever there is a time for the Mariners to truly get the pitching staff on track, and stay in the thick of the Wild Card standings, right now would be the time.
On Friday, the Mariners will play the Motor City Mad Kitties, with Marco Gonzales pitching against Matt Boyd. Game time is at 4:10 p.m..