Today the Mariners dropped the first game of an interleague series to the Mets, 7-5. With the loss the M’s fall further back in the wild card chase. Here’s a pretty sobering update on the team’s outlook:
Seattle is not only 4.5 games back, but behind three teams and tied with another. Not impossible, but, pretty tough to come back from.— Christopher Crawford (@Crawford_MILB) July 29, 2017
It’s pretty inconvenient timing considering the Mariners have made some trades in the last week that some may consider to be “buying” moves (although all of those new players are under control beyond 2017).
In this particular contest, the M’s fell behind quickly to a Mets offense that jumped all over Ariel Miranda in the early innings. The left-hander gave up a pair of runs in each of the first and third innings — including two home runs.
Then Mike Zunino got one back on a heck of a blast in the fourth inning:
In the fifth, Mets starter Rafael Montero finally began to collapse. This is apparently something he is known to do. He gave up the following sequence in the inning:
- Haniger doubles
- Dyson singles
- Zunino walks
- Wild pitch, Haniger scores
- Segura walks
- Gamel strikes out
- Cano hits a sac fly, Dyson scores
- Cruz walks
The Mets brought in left-hander Josh Edgin to face off against Kyle Seager with runners on every base. But Seags isn’t phased by lefty specialists and he poked a single through the left side of the infield to give the M’s a 5-4 lead.
Miranda settled in soon after that, throwing three more scoreless innings. He left the game with 10 strikeouts — a career high — and just one walk. Obviously he left quite a few pitches up in the zone, but he continues to make strong improvements.
Miranda 10 strikeouts tonight.— Ryan Rowland-Smith (@hyphen18) July 29, 2017
9 of them with his slider.
Goes to show how far that pitch has come.
Is he a guy that should be this team’s No. 2 or 3 starter? Almost certainly not. It’s also probably a little concerning that his FIP and xFIP are much higher than his ERA. But this is kind of curious:
Look at those bottom two years. They’re almost identical. His FIP and xFIP remained much higher last year than his ERA ended up being by season’s end. It’s entirely possible that Miranda is just a guy who happens to out-pitch his peripherals. This would make sense since he’s a flyball pitcher. But it’s also possible that he’s just getting lucky twice, and thus moderate concern is well-founded.
At the same time, he’s performed like an adequate No. 4 or 5 guy. It just so happens that the Mariners have a lot of those, and Miranda has been unrealistically thrusted into the No. 2 role as a result. They should probably try to change that.
But Miranda left today’s game in line for the victory (wins, shmins, I know). This loss can more easily be pinned on the bullpen.
Nick Vincent was tremendous in an inning of work, striking out two batters. But the floodgates started to open when Marc Rzepczynski and David Phelps came into the game.
Rzep entered into the game facing off against left-handed batter Michael Conforto. As a lefty specialist, Rzep should be capable of doing one thing: neutralizing lefties. Instead, this happened.
Both of Conforto’s homers today were hit off of left-handers. Although Rzepczynski specifically hasn’t been great as of late...
Rzepczynski has surrendered 8 runs and struck out 3 since June 1st.— Ethan (@EthanNovak) July 29, 2017
...this is was whole different level of unprecedented for he and Miranda.
Marc Rzepczynski and Ariel Miranda had allowed a combined 2 HR's versus lefties this season into today. 3 tonight, 2 by Conforto— Gary Hill (@GaryHillJr) July 29, 2017
At that point the game was tied 5-5. Phelps immediately came in to replace Rzep, but things didn’t get a whole lot better. The right-hander surrendered two runs on four singles in the inning, giving the Mets a 7-5 lead that they would keep for the rest of the game.
The Mariners failed to do damage against New York closer Addison Reed, who shut the door to seal the victory.
A lot of people on Twitter were complaining about Robinson Cano today and I just wanted to address that quickly.
Cano hasn’t been great with the bat this month; he’s got an 82 wRC+ in July. Since the M’s are struggling, people are trying to find players to blame. Cano is a popular option because of the way he plays.
When he’s doing well, people say he “makes it look effortless.” When he’s not doing well, people say he’s “mailing it in,” or “not trying hard enough.” People forget that Cano’s entire approach is about consistency and durability. His BABIP this month was .227. Remember that his wRC+ in the first half of 2015 was 83. People thought he was hitting a rapid decline then too.
Cano is fine. Nelson Cruz is fine too. The Mariners have been frustrating lately, but their weak points are pretty obvious. It’s not them.
Hopefully the Mariners can bounce back tomorrow. They’re facing Jacob deGrom and throwing Yovani Gallardo out to combat him. It’s not ideal. The bullpen blowing today’s lead stings. Let’s hope they can alleviate that sting (with some wins) sooner rather than later.