We all go through a time in the season when the Dog Days kick in for us as individuals. There's certain weeks we have to take a break, step away, and refresh the focus. For me, that time is now. I'm busy as hell doing other things and making time for Mariners games is honestly tiring. It's probably something to do with how the series went last weekend, maybe combined with watching Norichicka Aoki play center field, losing Felix for an indefinite amount of time, etc. It's been a tough stretch and the Texas Rangers have obliged by catching fire. Tonight the Seattle Mariners won and the Texas Rangers lost. Because fuck all that whiny shit. Life doesn't care about what I need and neither should you. Let's rage.
Taijuan Walker took the hill tonight in front of fifteen-thousand fans looking for a reason to believe in the coming weekend. He delivered with eight shutout innings, eleven strike outs, and walking actually not a single person. The fastball was flashing 97 MPH on the top of the zone and that meant that Cleveland was left chasing and flailing all night at Tai's masterful performance. He didn't complete the game because he ended the eighth over 100 pitches, and well, folks, we're gonna need this kid in October. Walker spread three hits over his eight innings and really only ran into trouble when he balked runners to second and third. He buckled down then and the whole game.
The other part of the 5-0 easy, breezy win was delivered by Chris Iannetta. The catcher, who only nights ago was the scapegoat for losing a game that the pitching staff deserved to win, repaid his debt by hitting two bombs out to left field. The second, a solo shot in the fifth, was an absolute moon shot four rows deep into the second deck above the M's bullpen. It was a Big Boy Blast, certified, print it, ship it, sell it. Not to be outdone by himself hitting a two-run shot in the third, Chris also blasted a double in the seventh to score Ketel Marte. Two bombs and four RBIs from the catcher who is undoubtedly harder on himself than even my own Irish-Catholic tendencies allow.
The final run came courtesy of a Kyle Seager fielder's-choice ground out in the eighth. It was one of those games where the result really never seemed in question. Once Iannetta gave the M's the lead in the third, it just felt like they were never giving it back. Couple that feeling with the knowledge that the Rangers had lost to Houston earlier, and with a chance to grab a game in the standings, the M's didn't flinch.
The long and short of it is this: tomorrow the M's play Cleveland for the final time before Texas comes to town. The Rangers as well will play tomorrow, an afternoon affair in Houston, and fly directly from that series to Seattle. If we get another day like tonight out of the Hometown Nine, we can be looking at a series that will have, once again, implications towards who will lead the division by Sunday night. If the M's can simply get a win, they assure themselves of that. Leonys Martin is a day away from returning. Tomorrow night is the last night we have to watch Aoki travel around a proverbial Flinders Station to try and find himself a fly ball.
I needed this game, personally. Just like I needed the night before it. Thanks to Tai's strong start, the M's pitching staff is now a quality start by Nate Karns away from having a full turn of great outings. Conceivably the starting rotation currently features two arms that can throw a fastball 97 MPH (or 100 if you're James Paxton). That's pretty cool, right? The M's are three games out of first place with their world-beater center field returning from injury in just one game. The Rangers saw two of their stars leave the game due to injury. Maybe this is that game. You know, that game.