Goodness gracious, Mariners. If you're going to make the playoffs, you gotta hit ‘em where they ain't. Your pitchers have to throw strikes. Your bullpen has to hold up. Your batters have to score runs with men in scoring position. You have to field well, and run the bases competently. You have to avoid getting in your own way. There have been times this year when the Mariners have done one, or two, or even three of those things at once, but rarely have they managed all of them simultaneously, which is how we find ourselves 74-77, 7 games out of first place in the AL West (huh?), miraculously only 5.5 games out of the second wild card (wait, no seriously, huh?), tantalizingly close to even as we are realistically very far away from, the playoffs.
But even if this is ultimately meaningless baseball, at the moment the Mariners are playing meaningfully fun baseball, and that is its own victory. Because this team in September has been damn fun. And they've been damn fun because they've been pretty damn good. Consider, if you will, the month by month splits, complete with very professional commentary.
See? And if September has featured some very sexy baseball, tonight's game was... a very well played baseball contest. What? Don't be gross.
The hitting, you guys. It was an offensive explosion! There were so many runs, it was hard to keep track, so let's break it down.
Were you making dinner? Were you opening a tasty brew? Were you unpacking a bobblehead you'd ordered from eBay? (Just me?) (Editor's note: Just you, Meg). Well if you were, you might have missed Kyle's 25th home run of the year. Seriously, in a year where so much has gone wrong, Kyle is quietly improving in a bunch of meaningful offensive categories.
The Sweetest Prince
14.2% K rate (career low)
25 home runs (tied for career best)
-3.3 BrR (nah really, that's better)
Good family man, hug monster, Most GIFable Mariner, Beater of the Shift
He dinged a 335ish foot home run to right field to give the Mariners an early 1-0 lead
Then Robinson Cano came up, took one ball, looked at Jeremy Guthrie and said, "Son, this going to be a pretty bad night for you." Then he hit the ball 385 feet to right center. Because he can.
I love this inning. This inning is joy. I want to live in it always. I want to make it my forever home.
Ketel Marte led off the inning with a triple, and then scored when Kyle Seager reached on an Eric Hosmer, All-Star* error.
Mariners lead 3-0
Nelson Cruz singled because DHs should hit a lot and thankfully, Nelson was DH tonight. Then Robbie, not content with his mere 385 feet home run one at-bat earlier, knocked the ball to right center. It went far. Like, really, really far. Robinson is clearly uncomfortable fielding these days, but he's developed a pretty sneaky strategy: if you hit it over the wall, it kinda doesn't matter how slowly you round the bases. Robbie smacked the shit out of this home run. Or put another way:
Robinson Cano’s third-inning home run traveled 445 feet, his longest since 2013. pic.twitter.com/QYEYVl6oWj— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 23, 2015
Or if you prefer art as a mode of expression:
Mariners lead 6-0
Franklin Gutierrez justttttttt missed his 16th home run, and had to settle for a very dramatic double. Seth followed with a single, and then Jesus Montero picked up an RBI while grounding into a force out. This is normally where you think, "Oh darn." Tonight we thought, "There's only one out. Oh yeahhhhhhh."
Mariners lead 7-0
Brad Miller is a confusing creature sometimes. He flails wildly at the first pitch 107% of the time. He can take some real awkward routes. But tonight he was like, "Nah, hitting is fun. You know what's more fun? Hitting the ball really, really far." It was on the stadium audio. Don't worry if you missed it. Miller put a two run shot to right center.
Mariners lead 9-0
The Mariners scored 7 runs, sent Guthrie to bed without a win or any supper, and probably contributed to humanity's salvation in some small way. Kyle just barely missed another. The videos aren't up for embedding just yet, but it looked something like this. Sorry, #THIS.
After Robbie ground out and Guti was called out on strikes, I tweeted the following:
Ok, this inning doesn't have a home run yet. What is even happening?— Meg Rowley (@megrowler) September 23, 2015
Jesus Montero was not amused. He hit a home run to practically dead center, scoring Seth Smith, and leaving the Royals to start contemplating their dinner plans. They said on the broadcast the ball when 431 feet. I'm pretty sure it was driven into the earth with such force that it will eventually emerge on the other side and then rocket into space. Science.
Mariners lead 11-0
We don't often destroy really bad pitching like we should, but tonight we did. Poor Jeremy. When it was all said and done, the Mariners knocked 5 home runs, scored 11, accumulated 13 hits and... were still just 2-for-7 with RISP. Oh Mariners. You're great.
The offense was great, but lest we forget, Kuma pitched a gem of a game. When we all thought about Seattle Mariners: 2015 World Series Champions, I think this combo is exactly what we had in mind: scoring all of the runs, while gifting none in return. Well our Bear King was particularly stingy, striking out 10 while allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk through 7 innings. The Royal tacked on 2 runs late, but Zych's wasn't even earned. Kuma recorded his 9th win on the season, and he did it with pitches like this to Kendrys Morales:
And this, also to Kendrys:
And this, to Ben Zobrist:
Did I show you two Kendrys strike outs? Sure. But that's only because there weren't three to show. Sorry Kendrys.
It was a tremendously satisfying win. Several guys got to head to the dugout a little early and get some rest. For an opponent that lead the AL in batting average, the Royals looked anything but. It might not end up being meaningful. But it was damn fun. Let's do it again tomorrow.