It's too early to lose again. Although, this one was supposed to be over well before the Mariners clawed back into it. Erasmo Ramirez couldn't locate pitches, John Buck couldn't frame the good ones, and the bats appeared hollow once again. But that wasn't the case, and last night's looming momentum shift did a 180. The Mariners tagged Tanner Scheppers for 6 runs in the 3rd, the last two slapped to his name thanks to Hector Noesi, finally helping the Mariners out. But it wasn't enough, and the Mariners fell to Texas 8-6 on a dreary Thursday afternoon.
It's been a pleasure listening to Aaron Goldsmith on the broadcast over the past few days while Dave Sims takes a day off. It's not that he's better, he's just different, bringing a more conversational nature to the broadcast than the Sims/Blowers dynamic. Blowers is an articulate broadcaster who offers great insight, and Goldsmith drew on his explanations far more than Sims tends to. Goldsmith is also full of well-researched anecdotes, recalling a story about Alexi Ogando and an acrylic nail that's just a little something extra to offer in a painfully long day game affair. The chemistry between the two is wonderful, joking back and forth and it's a pairing I hope to hear more of in the future. Sims revels in the big moments, but Goldsmith's cadence is more my speed for passing time. Goldsmith is still so young for this industry -- in fact, our birthdays are two days apart -- and we should be thrilled he could be here for a long time. Onto the game.
The Mariners started with a scare, as Shin-Soo Choo knocked a ball back up the middle and off Erasmo Ramirez's wrist, but he was able to stay in the game. It's not as if Ramirez has been particularly great, but the Mariners are straight out of bodies to throw on the mound at this point, as it seems as if an unstretched Brandon Maurer will be forced to start this weekend in place of Blake Beavan. Four pitchers on the DL. God.
Brad Miller worked himself a nice at-bat in the first, eventually slapping a base hit up the middle. You know he wanted to put last night behind him immediately, and he did, getting into scoring position before being stranded by Kyle Seager. But the Mariners did a good job racking up pitches against Scheppers early, including a 30 pitch first inning.
Unfortunately, the Rangers did the same to Erasmo Ramirez, as the first inning took almost 40 minutes to complete. Ramirez had his change going and then he didn't, as location continues to be a bit of an issue. While he got Alex Rios to strike out on three straight in the middle of the plate, he didn't fool Kevin Kouzmanoff, who lined a double that would have plated two if it weren't for Prince Fielder, who was intentionally walked. But it didn't matter, as Mitch Moreland quickly plated him and another, as yet another early intentional walk decision backfires.
John Buck didn't do Erasmo any favors today. Watching Zunino one day and Buck the next is a revealing experience, as Buck constantly stabs at pitches inside the zone that Zunino's quiet, soft receiving glove earns strikes with. That was only half the issue, as Ramirez continually left pitches, especially his changeup, right in the middle of the plate. Like Scheppers, he didn't make it out of the 3rd either.
Things turned around quickly in the 3rd, starting with Robinson Cano's first bomb of the year, and it was classic. Down and yanked to right, Cano plated three and Corey Hart immediately plated one of his own right behind, crushing an arching yank job down the left field line. An Ackley double resulted in six total runs being charged to Scheppers, and the game was less than a third done.
But the Mariners promptly gave the lead right back, as things were tied going into the 4th at 6-6, taking over an hour and a half to play three innings. They then teed off on Hector Noesi but to no avail, as Brad Miller's double into the gap was wasted with Cano's ripped liner right at Price Fielder that doubled Miller off. Hart then crushed another double, but the opportunity was squandered.
Joe Beimel coughed up a few runs in the 5th, and that was pretty much it until the 8th, when Tom Wilhelmsen imploded yet again. Though he managed to get out of a bases loaded mess with a double play, he's not fixed, and there's not much more to say about it than that.
It's raining in April, the Mariners are back below .500, and all is right with the world once again. Not all is lost. The next set of games should be relatively easy against Miami and Houston, and the Mariners get to skip Jose Fernandez's turn in the rotation. Returning home over .500 isn't out of reach, and it's been a brutal, injury-filled stretch. All things considered, 7-8 ain't that bad. It just hurts that it should be 8-7.