There's a saying about baseball that goes like this:
"You're always going to win 54 games and lose 54 games each year. It's what you do with the remaining 54 games that counts."
Other than the 2001 Mariners, a super-team sent by the Baseball Gods to laugh at the notion of star players being essential, this is generally true. You can sometimes just chalk up a loss as one of those 54 games and move on - after all, when you're playing 162 games in 181 days, there's probably a game tomorrow.
This contest, however, was not one that the Mariners would've wanted to give away.
For starters, the M's have roared back into the thick of things in the playoff race. They're finally back at home and enjoying the friendly confines of Safeco Field (though probably not able to take advantage of the garlic fries, unfortunately). And they're playing a very bad team starting a mediocre prospect making his major league debut. Really, this needed to be a win.
And thanks to a trio of homers, plus some clutch hitting, the Mariners overcame a shaky ninth inning from Edwin Diaz to take game one of this three-game series against the Brewers, 7-6.
First, before we could get to the exciting part of the game, we had three very boring innings to start out. Journeyman Wade LeBlanc (which he probably gets called so often, it might be how credit card companies address their letters to him offering a new line of credit) rolled through the first nine hitters in order, and after allowing a hit in the fourth, he remained on track.
Then, it was Kyle Seager's turn.
Kyle Seager hits one to a galaxy far, far away! #Mariners take a 1-0 lead in the 4th. #MarinersForce pic.twitter.com/xHyNJ1duv9— Mariners (@Mariners) August 20, 2016
He took a hanging breaking ball over the plate and did what he was supposed to do - square it up and hit it far. When hitting next to Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, K-$WAG is sometimes overlooked, but he's not-so-quietly having the best season of his career right now, with an OPS+ of 136.
Of course, in the top of the fifth, Chris Carter - who I initially confused with Khris Davis until realize that although both are/were Brewers, Carter has better spelling, six inches, and 50 pounds on Davis - decided it was time to take matters into his own hands.
Appears to be longest in Safeco Field history. Previous leader on file: Teixeira's 462' shot on 6/2/2007. https://t.co/SUh0dbWQEM— Nathan Rauschenberg (@nrauschen) August 20, 2016
No, seriously. LOOK WHERE THIS BALL HITS.
Chris Carter did the thing where he hit the ball farther than you thought people could hit a ball pic.twitter.com/11e2iUh5YO— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) August 20, 2016
The game remained tied until Robbie Baseball launched one down the line in right for his 28th longball of the season. Three singles later and the M's stretched their lead to 4-1.
Of course, LeBlanc promptly took the mound and allowed back-to-back homers, a further display of his gopher-ball problem. The vet has now allowed 14 home runs in 47.2 innings pitched on the season, a HR rate that...let's just say it doesn't put him with the best in the game. On the plus side, he was much better tonight than Wade Miley was!
Wade Miley with Baltimore:— Luke Arkins (@luke_arkins) August 20, 2016
IP -- 17
ERA -- 9.53
Hits -- 28
HR -- 3
SO -- 13
Opponents AVG -- .350#Mariners
As the game continued on, Stefen Romero made me eat my words, as the called-up first baseman went 1-2 with a walk and an RBI. Obviously the smallest of sample sizes, but it's good for him to get some confidence from the get-go.
With a three-run lead in the ninth, Scott Servais elected to use his closer, Edwin Diaz, rather than save Diaz and have another pitcher handle the bottom third of the Brew Crew's lineup. As Ethan said on LL Slack after the game, "Scott Servais needs a pitcher management summit. Just for him." This is something that all managers can work on, and I'm not just saying that because Diaz's command was, again, spotty at best, as the young flamethrower walked three and allowed a two-RBI single before the final strikeout. But it's especially important for Servais to use analytics and save Diaz for the highest-leverage situations instead of three-run leads.
Now, however, isn't a time to worry. The M's won another one of those last 54. The King takes the mound tomorrow. A Harvard grad got roughed up today. We have lots to celebrate. Let's save the nitpicking for later.