It's the middle of August and the Mariners look like they could use a break. Finishing out a series, with a potential to win three out of four against the hapless Angels seemed like a reasonable request before the evening wore on. It even seemed likely. Boston dropped their early game, Texas didn't play, and while Baltimore did win, they did so at the expense of the Astros (who are dropping like an anchor). It all lined up for a wonderful evening watching Hisashi Iwakuma sparkle and dazzle while the M's bopped Matt Shoemaker around the yard. Except it is the middle of August and the Mariners are tired.
Opening proceedings, after Nori Aoki and Seth Smith both fouled out behind the third base side, Robinson Cano stepped to the plate. I cannot tell you why, but, something in me knew he was swinging first pitch, and I also happened to tell my friend, that that swing was going to end in a ball leaving the yard. Cano made it so. Taking a Shoemaker meaty fastball deep into the center field stands to get the M's out to an easy 1-0 lead to get the game going. They wouldn't hold the lead for long.
Into the bottom of the first, with Kuma working with runners on first and second with one out, Pujols chopped a ball towards Kyle's backhand. The play was nothing especially hard, nothing remotely as difficult as the play Kyle made the seal the win last night, yet Seager rushed it, and the ball simply limped through the infield, plating the tying run, passing the third baseman at belt height. What would have been an easy double play suddenly tied the game, and the following single from Andrelton Simmons gave the Angels a 2-1 lead that they would never lose for the rest of the contest.
For his part, Kuma pitched a game that was just fine. He gave up two earned runs, the other being a solo shot to Jett Bandy in the fifth, and was up to his usual tricks. The offspeed offerings were plenty and mischievous, dancing and darting all over the plate, but always down, out of the zone. He only walked one and struck out just two, but managed to spread six hits across his seven innings of work, and left the game with the Mariners in fine position to win down just 3-2 in the top of the eighth.
The eighth would prove to be essentially the game. After Norichicka Aoki doubled thanks to a screamer that ricocheted off of Simmons' knee, the M's looked to be in business down just one run. However, a Franklin Gutierrez pinch hit soft fly out into center, a Robinson Cano strikeout, and a Nelson Cruz grounder to short ensured that Aoki never moved from second base. On the flip side of the inning, Nick Vincent was called upon to hold the game and give the M's one last chance at the top of the ninth. He did not do so. Vincent gave up three earned runs while recording just two outs, blowing open the game 6-2.
The score would close 6-4, thanks to a ninth-inning Mike Zunino two-run blast. The Mariners scored all their runs by the long ball tonight, and managed to go 0-8 w/ RISP. Not a formula for success on most evenings.
Let's hope coming home to Safeco recharges the batteries and for a right stomping of the hated Milwaukee Brewers. The M's looked tired, but this is the time of the year where new life must be found.