The Mariners played their 27th game of the season today. They won, always a good thing. They won a four game series against a pretty good Indians team on the road. They split a pair of one-run decisions. They unlimbered all their offense for the last two games and bludgeoned their hosts and their vaunted pitching staff into submission.
The Mariners are done with their season series against the Tribe. They finished 6-1 Their winning percentage is .593. At this moment they are 1.5 games behind the Astros for the division lead. They are currently tied with the Angels for second place in the West. If the faltering Angels lose to the Yankees tonight, the M’s will slide into the second wild card spot.
Yes, you’re absolutely right, Seattle has played only 17% of their schedule, and it’s way too early to get to excited about division leads and wild card positions.
But imagine for just a moment the Mariners were 11-16. The M’s would be just ahead of the awful Texas Rangers, having lost series to the terrible White Sox, and wretched Royals, and swept in Cleveland by the Indians, we’d be done talking about the M’s, Haniger’s hot start, the return of Ryon Healy and the resurrection of Marco Gonzales. We’d be deeply analyzing the Seahawks draft instead of smiling at this:
So while it may be a little too early to pronounce the Mariners a division winner or even a playoff team on April 29th, shame on the clowns who declared the M’s a bad team in the ashes of the Astros series. 7-3 on this road trip. They win a four game series from an Indians team that hadn’t lost a home series since last summer’s All-Star break. They aren’t that bad.
Just some quick notes
Between April 9-19 Marco Gonzales looked just like dogmeat. In the three starts during that time, I was sure the M’s were ripped off in the Tyler O’Neil trade and Gonzales needed to be deposited in the garbage disposal with other bad Gonzaga Bulldogs. In 10.1 innings over that time, Gonzales allowed 11 runs on 18 hits. But when the lefty rolled into Chicago on April 23rd, he blanked the White Sox over six innings allowing the M’s to hold on to a 1-0 shutout. Today Gonzales allowed only two runs in six innings. Things seem to be settling in. Would love to see him extended to at least 100 pitches. Oh, and Tyler O’Neil? Sent back to Louisville after only nine big-league at bats.
The Dynamic Duo
While the M’s are beginning to get more consistent production from their rotation, mostly, sort of, except maybe Erasmo Ramirez, their bullpen, honestly has been even more concerning. Guys they were counting on like Nick Vincent and Mark Rzepczynski, Dan Altavilla, simply haven’t consistently been on their game. With M’s winning a lot of one-run ball games, the wolf–pack simply has to tighten things up. One guy who has gotten his game together is Juan Nicasio. He certainly wasn’t the guy I thought the M’s were getting when they signed him for $8.5 M in the off-season, but over his last six appearances since April 16th, he’s been nails. Six strikeouts, no walks and two hits over six innings. His partner in crime, Edwin Diaz, has been likewise perfect, at least in final results. The kid’s only allowed one run in his 14.1 innings and is perfect in save situations. At least the back of the rotation is solid.
At Last, The Lineup We Were Promised!!
With the return of Ryon Healy, everybody is finally on board. This might be the least injured the M’s have been since 2016. And it’s paying off. While the left field platoon of Ben Gamel and Ichiro have yet to show consistent signs of success, everyone else has contributed in big ways, from Mitch Haniger’s amazing .309/..384/.701 with 10 home runs (tied for first in the AL) to Jean Segura’s .298/.325/.447 with 9 doubles (tied for fourth) 21 runs scored (tied for 7th) and five steals (tied for third) to Dee Gordon’s .309/.339/.400 with 10 steals (1st in AL) and penchant for leaving calamity in his wake (number one on the planet,) this is a pretty exciting team to watch. It’s been fun to see the return of Mike Zunino and Friday’s ninth inning bomb. Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano can add to the mix without having to be the only guys. This team will be dangerous from 1-9.
And What Does It All Mean?
Well, not a lot really. As long as the Mariners continue to win, we’ll keep talking about them. If they don’t we’ll be talking Seahawks training camp. The next homestand features the surprising A’s and the Angels who are 3-7 over their last ten games. The rest of May is mostly at Safeco against some teams that are really struggling. If the M’s can turn in a really good month, they’ll be well positioned for the more difficult mid-summer chunk of their season.