The last time the Mariners scored four or more runs was back on Tuesday, May 26. That was FIFTEEN days ago. For perspective, if you were a mayfly (with an average lifespan of one day), that'd be the equivalent to something that happened sometime between 300 and 200 BCE. Maybe you'd have stumbled across the legend of how the M's beat the Rays on an extra inning home run by the great conqueror Kyle Seager... but maybe not. In any case, the drought is now over and the M's have started a winning streak. Hooray!
Tonight was a pretty weird night for Mr. Taijuan Walker. He gave up just a single run in six innings of work, but recorded only one 1-2-3 inning. He gave up three or four hard hit balls throughout the evening, allowing Cleveland to advance runners into scoring position in five of the first six innings; however, the Indians went a Mariners-esque 1 for 17 with RISP on the night and were never quite able to rattle Walker. This game represents another step in the right direction for Taijuan as he continues to adjust to MLB-caliber hitters.
Offensively, this game was all about the top of the third inning. After getting through the first two frames with relative ease, the wheels completely came off for Trevor Bauer in the third. He threw 38 pitches in the inning (only 15 strikes) and issued four free passes. Nonetheless, the Mariners almost let him off the hook without pushing any runs across. And then, with two outs and the bases loaded, Kyle Seager stepped into the box. After taking a high cutter for ball one and fouling off an outside fastball, Seager turned on a heater up and out over the plate... and it was Grand Salami time.
As this ball sailed through the sultry Cleveland air, just clearing the right field fence, I admit that I very loudly yelled an inarticulate phrase that was some terrible combination of "SOUUUEEE" and "YEEEESHHHH". This expression of joy definitely upset my neighbor's dogs (or maybe their howls were simply meant to join in with my celebration?), but my exhalation was damned necessary after two weeks of horrible, terrible, mind-numbing offensive impotence. Seager's slam would prove to be all of the offense that the Mariners would need to win tonight's game.
And now a multitude of bullet points!
- With his double in the first inning, Austin Jackson has now hit seven extra base hits over his last nine games (37 PA). This is good. And it feels especially good when you recall that, during his first 85 games (367 PA) with Seattle, he managed just 10 extra base hits. Since returning from the DL on May 26th, Jackson has been on an absolute tear, hitting .323/.354/.484. Keep it up, Austin. Keep it up.
- Mike Zunino was one of four men walked by Bauer in the third inning of tonight's game. With that free pass, Mike's BB% is now up to 6.4%. This is still a bit below the league-average walk rate of 7.7%, but represents a massive improvement compared to last year (walk rate of 3.6%).
- With his 0-5 game tonight, Cano's batting line dropped to a not-so-hot .238/.279/.325. He's mustered just three extra base hits over his last 95 PA. Things have gotten pretttty bad, and while I certainly don't think Cano's season is beyond saving, he needs to turn this around. Soon. The Mariners are going to have an exceedingly hard time making a run at the playoffs if Robbie continues to hit like Elvis Andrus.
- With his RBI double in the top of the fourth, Logan Morrison extended his hitting streak to 16 games. There have only been 24 longer hitter streaks in Mariners history (Ichiro had 11 of these because he's Ichiro), the last of which was accomplished in August 2011 by Mike Carp. If Logan gets a hit tomorrow, his streak will equal the longest career hitting streak of Mr. Edgar Martinez (this is super crazy to me).
- Mark Trumbo finally did a noteworthy thing in a Mariners uniform! And no I don't mean when he airmailed a throw from RF, needlessly letting a runner advance from first to second in the second inning. I'm referring to the RBI single he hit off the RF wall in the 7th. Trumbo got a fastball out over the plate and smoked it the other way. Although he has exhibited good pop throughout his career, it's important to remember that he's less than a year removed from putting up -1.2 WAR season. The Mariners probably got a little bit better by bringing him aboard, but unless he starts hitting home runs every week his value is pretty limited.
- Fernando Rodney made his first appearance for the M's since collecting his third loss of the season back on June 5th. He was... not great. In one inning of work, Rodney walked a batter, gave up two hits (including one double), and surrendered an earned run. He did throw some pretty good pitches (especially a changeup that dropped right onto the lower-inside corner of the plate to strikeout Carlos Santana), but he definitely still seems to be struggling. I've gotten just as frustrated with Rodney this year as the next M's fan, but I can't help but feel a little bad for the guy. His half-hearted, no arrow celebration after recording the last out in tonight's game made me feel genuinely bad. Please get better soon.
Houston lost again tonight, extending their losing streak to seven games. It's kind of hard to believe, but despite going 3-10 over their last 13 games, the Mariners are actually closer to first place tonight (six games back) than they were the last time they scored more than four runs (seven games back). There are still 103 games left in Seattle's regular season schedule; they have plenty of time to mount a charge and contend for the AL West.
Make it so, Mariners.
Make it so.