This weekend the Mariners came home to Seattle to face the California Angels, the team with the best record in baseball To sneak into the playoffs the M’s would have to win all three games, and the A’s would have to lose all three of their games to the Texas Rangers, the worst team in baseball.
The M’s did their part, sweeping the Halos in stirring fashion. It seemed like the A’s might cooperate too and force a one game playoff at Safeco Field on Monday, but no such luck. Sonny Gray pitched the game of his life to shut out the Rangers 4-0.
Yesterday, during the fifth inning at Safeco Field, the news flashed on the out of town scoreboard news of the A’s win in Arlington. The 40,000 + who packed the stadium in SoDo erupted into a cheer for the home team that lasted a solid 15 minutes. To play a meaningful game on the last day of a 162 game season is special indeed. Unfortunately there would be no ice cream at the end of the season for the 2014 Mariners.
In acknowledging their continued inability to fight their way into the playoffs, it is also important to recognize their achievements. I’ll break the season down in a future post, but here are some overall things to consider
- The Mariners improved by 16 games to 87-75. I predicted they would win 77 games. I was wrong and so were a whole lot of pre-season prognosticators.
- Seattle was second in Major League Baseball in team ERA, first in the American League. I know there are other meaningful stats, but that’s still pretty telling, and likely the entire mob of them will be back next year.
- Last year the Seattle Mariners were the worst defensive team in the American League by a wide margin. This year they finished in the middle according to UZR and other advanced defensive stats on FanGraphs. I know that’s not what Blowers and Sims would like you hear, but . . . Even so, this was a much improved defensive team that made its pitching staff better.
- The Mariners excited the fan base to the tune of an addition of 250K more attendees at Safeco Field, and edged over the two million mark, for the first time since 2010. Not close to the team’s high-water mark in 2002, but an improvement.
This team is set to become a winner. They’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to win, to be so close you can taste it. There will be lots of post-season break downs. The “but they didn’t make it to the World Series” crowd will call for Lincoln and Zdurencik’s heads. Knowledgeable fans will demand more offense and wait, impatiently, for spring training. The players will look over the season and know if they had won two more games they’d be in the playoffs this week. There’s nothing good about losing, but this year, not winning will be like a burr under the saddle. The 2007 and 2009 teams were winners too, but they did it with smoke and mirrors and collapsed in the season that followed. This team is different. It’s the real deal, and is a team that just needs a couple more pieces. With very powerful bats. Preferably right handed. We’ll see.
Congratulations to Lloyd and his boys for an exciting season. I’m sorry it had to end.