Well, that sucked.
- Tonight, the Mariners played their 109th ballgame of the year.
- Tonight, for the 26th time, the Mariners failed to score more than one run.
- Tonight, for the 22nd time, the Mariners failed to scratch out more than five hits.
- Tonight, for the 11th time, the Mariners allowed two or fewer runs and still managed to lose.
- The Mariners are currently on pace to score 617 runs this season. Last year they scored 624.
This game recap could consist solely of these bullet points and I don't think that I would be missing anything of real significance. This game felt familiar because it was familiar. The Mariners felt like impostors in the playoff hunt because they played like impostors in the playoff hunt. HOWEVER, the Mariners still remain somewhat-solidly in the mix for the postseason. With the Blue Jays losing today, they're still only three games back of the second wildcard; it's certainly not time embrace doom and gloom or throw in the towel, but after games like today's it can be somewhat difficult to envision this team playing baseball in October.
Wei-Yin Chen has been a solid starter for the Orioles this year. He's posted a near-league average xFIP of 3.80 and has consistently pitched ~six innings every five days. However, despite the fact that he has more wins than Felix (wins is a super important stat for a picher, right guys?), he is far from an elite player. He gives up a lot of home runs, doesn't strike very many people out, and has allowed the ninth highest BAA (.270) among the 93 qualifying starters in baseball.
So of course, for the second time in nine days, Wei-Yin Chen made the Mariners look comically impotent at the plate.
In two starts against the Mariners this season, Chen has pitched 15 1/3 innings, giving up one run and allowing only 10 hits. Tonight, he set a season high for strike outs, dismissing eight Mariners hitters via the K (seven swinging). He induced 16 whiffs, easily eclipsing his previous season high of 12 swings and misses. This isn't the first time that the Mariners lineup has been exposed by a less than stellar pitcher, and it won't be the last, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.
- The Mariners recent offensive woes with RISP continued in today's game. Despite eking out only seven base runners, they still had quite a few chances to score, but went 0 for 6 with runners at second or third. They struck out four times and hit a couple of harmless ground balls. After batting .264 with RISP during their first 99 games, the M's are hitting a staggering .161 (10 for 62) with men in scoring position over their last 10 games. That doesn't even come close to cutting it.
- Roenis Elias pitched well, getting the swing-happy Orioles to chase many pitches out of the zone. Like Chen, Elias also achieved a season high number of whiffs tonight (17) and his changeup seemed particularly effective. Unfortunately, he mislocated a few pitches (mostly fastballs up over the plate) that were punished for base hits. Elias scattered nine base runners over 5 2/3 innings, avoiding the big inning, but he couldn't quite manage to get out of trouble when he had to. Both of the runs scored by the Orioles tonight came with two outs; unlike the Mariners, the Orioles did not fail to capitalize on their scoring opportunities. It should be noted that the second (and deciding) run scored by Baltimore came after Chris Taylor mishandled a sharply hit ground ball early in the sixth inning. If he had fielded this cleanly, the Orioles likely wouldn't have scored, and this baseball game would probably still be going on.
- Despite getting the only RBI for the Mariners today, Kendrys Morales left another four runners on base. During his short tenure with Seattle this season (seven games and 29 PA), he's left 18 men on base and gone 0 for 9 with RISP (with one sac fly and one HBP). Here is what Morales has done as a Mariner with runners on base (including today):
Since joining the team, Morales has had ample chances to knock runners in but has failed to take advantage of his opportunities. Seven games is obviously a small sample size, but you wonder how much patience Lloyd is going to show with Kendrys.
- Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia both debuted for the Mariners today. Unfortunately, neither of them made an immediate, game-changing, season-altering contribution that a small part of each of us had (unrealistically) hoped for. They combined to go 0 for 7 with a walk and didn't do anything particularly noteworthy in the field. (If I wanted to nit-pick, I suppose I could mention that Jackson took a non-ideal route on a ball that Cruz hit sharply to center and Denorfia overran/overslid a ball in foul territory; neither of those plays was easy, but I don't think that either of them was near-impossible.) We also got to see Jackson strike out a few times, which will undoubtedly happen again (he owns a career 23.3% K rate). It may take these guys a few days to settle in with their new team, but they should definitely make the Mariners better going forward.
Here's to tomorrow's baseball being better than today's baseball!