M’s survive 4-4 road trip through hell

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Ariel Miranda pitched just well enough to pick up a couple of wins in the M’s 4-4 road trip to Washington D.C., Boston and Denver. 

Eight days ago I reflected on the challenges faced by the Mariners as they set off on an eight-day road trip to Washington, Boston, and Colorado.  I suggested that, given the current state of the Mariners pitching staff and their offensive struggles, the M’s could consider a three win road trip a success. When they convincingly clobbered the Rockies 10-4 last night at Coors Field, Seattle earned a 4-4 road split.  This was almost miraculous given the quality of the opponents and way the trip began.

The first two games in Washington met all our worst expectations as the Nationals lit up Christian Bergman for 10 runs in four innings on the way to a 10-1 stroll through the mess that is the Mariners pitching staff. The following day, Sam Gaviglio allowed four unearned runs in the first inning on the way to a 5-1 loss. The M’s continued their offensive lethargy, which the pitching just wasn’t good enough, and it looked like the trip could end 0-8.

But Ariel Miranda pulled a rabbit out of his hat and managed to still the Nationals potent offense to win 4-2.  Though the five-inning outing wasn’t his best effort, it was far from his worst.  A nearly spotless effort by the bullpen over four innings held on for the victory.

If the first two games in Washington seemed shaky, the first two games in Boston made the ride through Nationals Park seem like a summer breeze. Back to back shutouts, 3-0 and 6-0 illuminated the Mariners mysterious offensive futility that persisted from the White Sox series and resulted in a RS/RA of 9-52 over eight games.

But somehow in the Sunday finale at Fenway, Christian Bergman found whatever was missing in D.C. and shutout the Bosox through 7.0, and the Mariners found a way to score, beating their AL East rivals 5-0.

At 2-4 the Mariners limped into Coors Field to face the NL West-leading Rockies. The Boston finale seemed to cure them of what ailed the Mariners as they combined decent pitching performances with sufficient offense to sweep the Rockies 6-5 and 10-4.

The Mariners open a ten game home stand against those same Rockies tonight.  At 24–29 they return home in pretty much the same condition in which they left.  Their pitching staff is still dependent on guys who should still be toiling in the minors.  Their offense is wildly inconsistent.  Too many key guys are on the DL. 53 games into the season, we should have a pretty clear idea of who these guys are.

I don’t think we can say that.  With Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Drew Smyley still on the DL and no clear date set for their return, the M’s will continue with Bergman, Gaviglio and Miranda.  And what happens to an ineffective Gallardo with Paxton returning and others looking like they might be back next month?

How will the projected return of outfielder Mitch Haniger affect the trio currently playing?  Certainly the performance of Ben Gamel has earned him consideration for time in one of the corners as Jarrod Dyson struggles with the stick.

With lots of home games in June against some pretty good teams in the Rockies, Twins, Rays, Astros and Blue Jays, the M’s have to figure out how to win consistently if they are going to jump over the seven teams in front of them in the Wild Card chase.  Not impossible, but every passing game in the wilderness makes it more difficult.

Go M’s

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