With their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, the Mariners rolled out three home runs to overcome the pesky Twins on this final road trip of the season.  The M’s won 4-3, and head off to Houston for a critical three game series. Seattle took two of three from the Twins at the Target Center, and are 82-73.  They are a game behind Detroit, and 2.5 games behind Baltimore for the second wild card spot.

The M’s don’t play either of the teams ahead of them in the standings, so all they can worry about is the teams they are playing.  Many writers have claimed 88 wins as the magic number required to get into the playoffs.  Some have said 87.  Any way you look at it, the M’s have little room for error as they play Houston at MinuteMaid Park, where they are a discouraging 2-5 this year. One loss to give, maybe two, the Mariners simply have to win.

They won today, Sunday, and they won it with the long ball. The Mariners have 209 home runs on the year, good enough for fourth in the American League, behind Tampa Bay, Toronto and Baltimore .

Nelson Cruz had two more dingers today, together with 3 RBI’s.  The Boomstick is hot, and is on one of those rolls in which everything is hit hard.  In Saturday night’s loss in Minneapolis, Cruz drove a ball 493 feet for the longest homer in the American League this season. Off Hector Santiago in the second inning of today’s contest, he broke his bat, and then drove the next pitch 430 feet into the left field stands. In the sixth inning he tweaked his wrist before hitting another homer to left.

In his two seasons with Mariners, Nelson Cruz has simply been Steady Eddie.  Though his power may periodically go on a brief hiatus, I’ve been impressed with how well he’s done the little things, driving the ball up the middle to pick up an RBI with two outs, or hitting a sacrifice fly to pick up a run.  His batting average is down a bit, but he reached the 100 RBI mark to go with his 41 homers. Cruz received MVP votes last year, but I honestly think he’s having a better year, and is, if anything, more valuable to Mariners in 2016.

As the M’s take the field for three in their MinuteMaid house of horrors, I’ll always remember this from May 1 2015.  It involves bats, balls, trains and Boomsticks.

They’ll need a little more Nelson Cruz to leave the Astros in the dust in their march to the post-season.

And let’s not forget

Jesus Sucre may well be no worse than the second-best catcher on the Mariners right now.  He is a rock-solid defender with a great throwing arm, and now he’s hitting a bit too. 11-32 with a homer since his call-up from Tacoma, he must figure into the team’s calculations for 2017-especially since Iannetta, Zunino, and the immortal Clevenger have not exactly grabbed it for themselves.  Zunino and Sucre in 2017?  Sounds good to me.

In Speaking of Clevenger

Steve Clevenger tweeted some really stupid stuff about the tragic situation in Charlotte last week.  When I read it, I shook my head. But I’m also a firm believer in the first amendment and the right to free expression.  I’ve tweeted my support to Colin Kaepernick and those in the NFL supporting him.  While I firmly disagree with the tone and content of Clevenger’s comments, I support his right to say it-as well as the consequences for saying stupid stuff. I truly wish the Mariners could have checked one more box-the stupid public comments box-in Clevenger’s file, along with the boxes like-lousy catcher, can’t hit much, and can’t stay healthy, let him play out the season (on the DL)and drop him out the bomb bay door at season’s end. It would have cost them little, and would have given support to an important individual right.

Farewell Jose Fernandez

This morning’s news that Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident in Miami was hearbreaking. At age 24, Fernandez had already demonstrated he was one of the best young pitchers in major league baseball, the future of the Marlins pitching staff, and an important cog in a Miami revival. A Cuban refugee who left that island under gunfire, only to make a harrowing sea voyage to Mexico, it is ironic that he lost his life in a foolish boating accident near his home. I wish his family and his team only the best.


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