Yesterday Hisashi Iwakuma went 2.1 innings, the shortest start in his career, gave up 5 earned runs, and somehow, the Seattle Mariners still managed to beat the Red Sox in Boston 8-6 for a first ever three game sweep at Fenway Park. This came on the heels of Chris Young’s 3.2 inning performance on Saturday, a 7-3 Mariner victory, and Felix Herndanez’s un-Felix-like 5.2 inning outing on Friday won by the Mariners 5-3 in a dramatic 9th inning comeback.
The sweep pushes the Mariners to 71-58 on the season. That’s right, on August 24th the Mariners equaled their win total for all of 2013. They also advanced to 13 games over .500 for the first time this season, holding on a to a slim one-game lead in the second wild card race over the Detroit Tigers.
They return home today to face a battered, broken Texas Rangers ballclub, decimated by injuries. With 50-79 record, the worst in baseball, the Rangers are exactly the kind of team the Mariners have trouble with. If you don’t remember this, look up the M’s games against the woeful Philadelphia Phillies last week.
The starters for the Texas series will be Roenis Elias on Monday, James Paxton on Tuesday, and King Felix on Wednesday. All need to pitch deep into games to give the Mariners bullpen, called upon for 15.1 innings of one run baseball during the Boston series, a bit of a break. The M’s have been about run prevention-superior pitching and defense-all season, and the middle of a pennant race isn’t a time to rest on their laurels. This team is scoring more, a lot more, than prior to the deadline deals of July 31st, but they will struggle when the September stretch run is inaugurated with Washington’s visit to Seattle Labor Day weekend.
The M’s need some home-cooking before the schedule makes life really hard for them in the final month of the season. They can still win, but they’ll have to play better than they did in Boston and Philadelphia.