Alright, alright. I know how this must seem. Another 2-0 loss at the hands of a mediocre pitcher and a less-than-mediocre team. Miles Mikolas, the AAA-reliever-to-MLB-starter who was shoved into the role due to all the injuries the Rangers have had this season held the M's scoreless. The Rangers starter who:
On the one hand, Mikolas's two-seam fastball /is/ his best pitch. On the other, PITCHf/x rates it as -0.84 runs per 100 pitches. MINUS.— Andrew Rice (@Andrew_Rice) August 26, 2014
Yeah, you get the point. You've seen the stats. You've also likely heard that Mikolas allowed 10 runs to the Rays on August 13th and 9 runs to the Astros on July 27th. If you haven't...well, sorry for bringing that up. The Mariners obviously did not take complete advantage of the situation. Let's analyze what happened though, shall we?
In the beginning, it looked like this was going to be a pretty high-scoring game. It took Mariners' starter Roenis Elias 29 pitches just to get through the first inning. He had absolutely no command of anything that wasn't a fastball and my arm was getting sore just thinking about what the already-tired bullpen was going to have to go through in this one.
However, as time went on, Elias' pitch count was under better control, he found his command (to some extent; he still walked four over the course of the game) and managed to last a respectable five innings before handing the ball over to Brandon Maurer. Elias ended up striking out six and allowed just three hits and one earned run for the game.
At this point in the season, I'd be far more comfortable with Elias transitioning to the bullpen instead of holding down the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Unfortunately, Taijuan Walker didn't look very sharp for Tacoma tonight, giving up six runs to the Iowa Cubs. Erasmo will likely start for the M's on Wednesday, since Felix was moved back to Friday, so maybe he can take over Elias' spot with a sharp outing. However, innings counts could play a role in who ends up getting that No. 5 spot down the stretch. But if it's between having Elias in the 'pen for the rest of the year or getting just a couple more starts out of him and then shutting him down completely, I'd rather have the former.
Alright, time to discuss the elephant in the room: the offense. In total, the Mariners had four hits on the night. Morrison had two, and Jackson and Cano each had one. Mike Zunino had a walk (!) and other than that, no other Mariner made it on base for the entirety of the game. Despite the lack of success, I wouldn't go as far as to say that the Mariners were dominated by Rangers' pitchers tonight. In fact, the M's had plenty of hard-hit liners that found some gloves. According to MLB.com's play-by-play, the Mariners had nine lineouts on the night. A third of their outs could have been hits had they been placed a little bit differently. The Mariners' BABIP against Mikolas tonight was .150, the lowest BABIP he's allowed in a major league start since he allowed two runs over 7.1 innings against the Yankees.
Now, was it all luck? Of course not. The bats were asleep tonight, plain and simple. There were very few real quality at-bats and besides a ninth-inning mini-rally against closer Neftali Feliz (in the sense that someone got a hit), the Rangers' lead was never really threatened.
People are going to jump to conclusions based on what happened in tonight's game. People will likely do that for basically any loss at this point in the season. That's what it's like to be a contender holding a playoff spot by a mere thread. When it comes down to it though, every team is going to lose games, and not all of them are going to be pretty. The Mariners are not the only contender who has games like this, either (here are some recent examples). Every team has a real clunker every now and then, and this is only the second shut-out of the month for the M's. Am I concerned about what happened tonight? Not really. This is baseball, and nobody's season is "over" because of one bad game. If the Mariners look like this for the rest of the series, I'd be a lot more concerned. For now, save the "it's all over"s and "here we go again"s for a bit. In a season where every contender in the American League has some flaw or another, the M's can afford a game or two like these. The M's hold a playoff spot by half a game, and so long as another couple of games like this don't show their faces around these parts any time soon, I'm not too worried.
Now that that's all over, let's close with a nice little dance by our favorite ex-Mariner:
Beltre busts a move. http://t.co/qeC0SdGlGV— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) August 26, 2014