Hello, and welcome to the inaugural showing of 2016 Seattle Mariners: Calm, Competent Baseball. There is no telling how long this show will run, so I recommend you enjoy it while it remains. Admission is free and all are welcome, so long as you kneel behind the 24 in left field and pledge your undying loyalty to these wayward baseball men. Front row seating will be given to those who then make the pilgrimage out to the venerable statue in center field, and lay an offering on Dave’s desk.
All told, this was a very nice baseball game in which the Seattle Mariners beat the Detroit Tigers by scoring three more runs than the Tigers’ zero. The game itself lacked the excitement of the last weekend, but the consequences of this win are nearly as thrilling. For the first time since June 17 the Mariners are 5 games above .500 and, for all their back and forth sequencing struggles, it feels like they came into it easily. This is a good team, when not decimated by injuries and bad luck, and 5 games over .500 feels oddly appropriate for early August, if not still an underperformance. With another Astros loss tonight (they’re 2-8 in their last 10, tehe) the Ms are a game and a half ahead of them in the division and now only 2.5 back from the Tigers in the Wild Card race. This four game win streak also ties a season high (hello sequencing, my old friend).
To be sure, there are still plenty of games left but one of the best things to take from this game is just how smooth it felt. There were no dingers, or late inning heroics that we’ve become accustomed to, just clean ‘n easy baseball. Miraculously the offense strung together three runs off of eight hits, and that effort was more than enough to support the pitching staff tonight. Hisashi Iwakuma continued his unexpected streak of success, pitching a full seven innings with only one walk and eight strikeouts, including a swinging strikeout from Miguel Cabrera in the sixth inning that was so beautiful I forgot to screenshot it. Remember that terrible time when he was going to be a Dodger?
Earlier today the staff got into a conversation about the idea of a player “competing” versus a player with mental fortitude, and I think Iwakuma is a perfect example of the latter. He doesn’t get fired up, or attack the batters, in the way Félix does but instead is able to work past a rough inning or two. Both traits are valuable and, for a team pushing for the playoffs especially, both traits are needed to succeed.
On the opposite end of Iwakuma’s steady seven innings of peak 89 MPH, we got the pleasure of watching not one, but two, Mariners flamethrowers cruise through the Tigers’ lineup. Newly acquired reliever Arquimedes Caminero (whose name is rife with pun potential and angry red underline squiggles) made his debut with a swift 1-2-3 inning, regularly hitting 98+ MPH and inducing the last two outs with fly balls off 101 MPH fastballs. Goodness knows it’s the smallest of sample sizes, but it’s hard not to get excited at the prospect of Caminero and Diaz as a 1-2, lights-out punch at the back end of the bullpen. If we ignore the wince from Leonys Martin after he threw a ball in in the eighth (he’s fine, he’s fine, he’s fine…I said, HE’S FINE), the biggest concern from this game is the fact that Edwin Díaz has not struck anyone out in his last six outs, which brings his K/9 down to a measly 16.80.
It was good, quiet, competent baseball and at no point did I feel like I was going to vomit. There is no floor, yes, but perhaps we don’t have to crouch quite so low to avoid hitting our heads on the ceiling.
Martin update, and a collective exhale of relief:
Martin is okay, experienced a little neck pain late in the game.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) August 9, 2016