Man. That was a fun, stress-free baseball game. After the high levels of gut-wrenching meted out by that last series against the Angels, I could really use a few games like this one. Seattle took the lead early, and although the Mets came back and tied it in the third, the Mariners bats responded quickly and decisively. There were quite a few flashy plays in today's game, but this victory was mostly due to the pitching.
First and foremost, I sincerely hope that Roenis Elias is okay. So far, I've seen his injury described as either "tightness" or "cramping" in his left forearm. Hopefully it was just cramps and he won't miss any time. The fact that he stayed in the game to finish pitching to Lucas Duda seems to suggest that this is the case, but the Mariners really can't afford to punt any games by starting whoever their 8th (or however deep they've delved into their depth chart) option is at this point in the season. Please be okay Roenis, and please remember to hydrate better in the future!
In any case, Elias pitched well tonight. He was able to shake off his last three (crappy) outings and took advantage of Doug Eddings's large strike zone, benefiting from a few low called strikes. Half of the outs he recorded tonight were via the strikeout and he got 13 swings and misses (six on his changeup and four on his curve; both pitches were pretty filthy for most of the night). He did walk Ruben Tejada and Chris Young, but overall his control wasn't bad. Although he was pulled early due to injury, he'd already thrown 90 pitches, and his fastball had dipped from 94 mph (to start the game) to ~91 mph. He was probably ready to come out soon anyway. I imagine Lloyd would've appreciated more than 5.1 innings from his starter tonight, especially considering that the M's bullpen had thrown more than 17 innings over the last three days, but I certainly understand taking whatever precautions necessary to ensure Elias's health moving forward.
Speaking of the Mariners bullpen... they're pretty good this year, guys. Although losing two of the last three games likely mitigated their impressiveness a little bit (it did in my mind, at least), it probably shouldn't have. They've pitched well, and they've been much more consistent than anticipated (especially when you compare them to last year's enigmatic roller coaster). Today, they combined to throw 3 2/3 innings, allowing five baserunners and an unearned run, while striking out four. Leone did struggle for his third consecutive outing, but Furbush, Maurer (who picked up his first career hold tonight - time to celebrate!), and Farquhar looked dominant.
The Mariners batters also had a strong showing today, piling up 14 hits and five runs against some not bad Mets pitchers. It's always nice to see Seattle put up some solid offense in a game, but I do admit that when WFB, Dustin Ackley, and Stefen Romero combine for eight of the team's 14 hits, it's almost too surreal to enjoy.
On to the bullet points!
Mike Zunino is a very strong man.
In the third inning he hit a baseball an estimated 428 feet into the upper deck in left field. He is now responsible for three of the five farthest home runs hit by the Mariners this season. Although you might find yourself occasionally annoyed by his striking-out-way-too-much and never-ever-walking problems, I implore you to remember that Mike Zunino is a 23 year-old-catcher who plays impeccable defense and is under team control until 2020.
- And here is the play from today's game that people will likely remember for the longest:
Sometimes, Ackley looks a little lost in the outfield (his super noodly arm certainly does not help), and then he goes and makes a play like this. The way that he quickly got into position, tracked the ball, and didn't get too close to the wall before making his perfectly timed leap was amazing. Add that to his three hits and Dustin Ackley may have had himself his best performance of the season. I hope he went and got a nice malted after the game. He sure earned it.
- Finally, after the game today, Justin Smoak was optioned back down to Tacoma in order to clear a spot for Erasmo Ramirez (who is starting tomorrow). I'm not quite sure how the Mariners will manage over the next couple of weeks without his prodigious 0.635 OPS in the lineup, but I sure do hope they find a way.