After administering a whupping to Philadelphia’s godawful bullpen for two games, the M’s head in to Toronto’s Rogers Centre to meet the Blue Jays for four games.
I’m not sure which is the bigger story? After five weeks of struggle the M’s have fought their way back to .500. Or the M’s have four-fifths of their projected starting rotation entering Spring Training on the DL.
Add to the starters, relievers Evan Scribner, Evan Matthews, Steve Cishek, and Shae Simmons. Add to the pitchers, all everything outfielder Mitch Haniger. Add to the injured, an ineffective Mike Zunino and Leonys Martin and the team that trundles into the Jays’ home is pretty different from the one that rolled into Houston on April 3rd.
The Mariners won five of their last six. That’s no small feat. But let’s not get too smug. They beat an injury-riddled Angels team, a bad Rangers club, and a Phillies crew that may be good some day, but today has a breathtakingly terrible relief pitching.
If all the injuries and moves on the pitching merry-go-round haven’t induced vertigo and oxygen depletion, news today the M’s have additional losses to their roster. Robinson Cano’s tweaked quadriceps will keep him out of the lineup. Mike Freeman will fill in at second base. And if things couldn’t be weirder or worse, Cuban players Guillermo Heredia and Ariel Miranda were having visa issues at the border and were not expected to get to Toronto in time for tonight’s game. Miranda isn’t scheduled to pitch tonight, and Taylor Motter will take Heredia’s place in left field.
In addition, Jerry Dipoto has been anything but idle today as he sucks up any potential pitching reinforcements that might aid his ailing staff. The M’s recalled Zac Curtis from AA Arkansas directly to the big club, and sent right hander Dan Altavilla to AAA. They also claimed RHP Casey Lawrence from the waiver wire. He’d been DFA’ed by Toronto. Dipoto also purchased the contract of RHP Justin DeFratus of the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. De Fratus is bound for Arkansas. He also snagged RHP Tyler Cloyd from the independent Somerset Patriots. Cloyd will go to Tacoma. Both have major league experience, and De Fratus was once a Mariner property.
Phwah, I hear you exclaiming. It’s the Blue Jays. They suck! Well, you’re right, sort of. The Jays, not unlike the M’s, got off to a slow start and did a swan dive into an empty pool their first 25 games or so. But they’re improving. The M’s will be running youngsters Chase DeJong, Dillon Overton and Christian Bergman out to start games that would have been pitched by Felix Hernandez, James Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma. They are fly-ball pitchers about to do their business in one of the biggest homer-producing parks in the major leagues.
We are often reminded the M’s have, correctly, scored the second most runs in the American League behind the Yankees. But they are also third in most runs allowed.
The M’s need to at least split this series before coming home to face a pesky (at least for the Mariners) A’s team, and the White Sox who have hung around the .500 mark with their surprising pitching.