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Royals Dig Mariners-Sized Hole, Place Mariners Quietly, Almost Tenderly, into Hole, Drive Away Towards Playoffs

And complete sweep of the M’s with a 9-6 win in extra innings

Kansas City Royals v Seattle Mariners
“Ouch. Right in the optimism.”
Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

On Saturday, May 27th, 2017, the Seattle Mariners lost to the Boston Red Sox 6-0. Having dropped 12 of their previous 16 games, their record at that point was 21-29. Fangraphs gave them a 6.7% chance to make the playoffs.

Two days later on May 29th, the Kansas City Royals were defeated by the Detroit Tigers. Having lost 8 of their last 13 games, they found themselves at that very same record—21-29. Fangraphs had their playoff odds pegged at a paltry 3.7%.

It’s amazing what a month of baseball can do.

Following their loss in Boston, the M’s put together a torrid June, attaining a winning record for the first time all season, and finishing the month just one game under .500, doubling their playoff odds since May’s Green Monster massacre.

The Royals likewise saw their playoff odds leap to 29.2% coming into today, (over at Five Thirty Eight that number has eclipsed 40%), jumping into the second Wild Card spot, and climbing within a half game of Cleveland for the AL Central lead. The floundering team that was thought of as probable sellers at the trade deadline a month ago now almost certainly will be doing no such thing.

One of those oft-mentioned trade pieces was today’s starter, former Mariner Jason Vargas, who, thanks to his AL-leading 12 wins, will headed to his first All-Star game on Tuesday. He was also the AL leader in ERA at the time of first pitch tonight—a lead, however, he relinquished rather quickly.

Mmmm, dingerino:

Jean Jean, dinger machine:

And Nelly’s first dinger since June 4th—it’s positive regression time, y’all:

The Mariners would go on to tally 6 runs against Vargas, (Cruz and Ben Gamel added an RBI groundout and RBI single respectively), chasing him after 5 innings, and bumping his ERA up a hefty 0.40 points. (Granted, his FIP was a decidedly more pedestrian 3.49 coming into the game, so things were bound to even out sooner or later).

Unfortunately Ariel Miranda wasn’t much sharper for the M’s today, and despite solid work in innings 2, 3, and 4, was victim to a few untimely extra-base hits, including a 2-run double to Eric Hosmer and 2-run homers to both Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain. Here he is at his most egregious:

With the game tied up at 6-6 through 5, the next several innings went quickly. Tony Zych was outstanding in relief, throwing 2.1 scoreless frames (the longest he’s gone in a game since October of 2015). Then, Edwin Díaz, despite an abject lack of command, was able to shut things down with two on in the 8th:

We’ll credit umpire Jim Wolf with the assist.

In the 9th, Díaz and the M’s escaped again, this time thanks to this bacon-saving snag from Segura:

Meanwhile, the Mariners bats, after their outpouring early on, had gone completely cold. Only two players reached base after the 4th inning. So when things went to extra innings, and James Pazos took over in relief, it felt like something of a minor miracle would be needed to pull out the win.

Long story short, the miracle didn’t happen.

Pazos has been extremely good for the Mariners this season. He’s exceeded every expectation and has become a dependable presence out of the pen with seriously electric stuff. But tonight, Salvador Perez, who seemingly has a game-winning hit every time I look, got the better of him. And that, as the adage goes, was that.

Kansas City Royals v Seattle Mariners
Swept Away (Sentimental Version)
Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The Royals are as hot as any team in baseball. Their updated playoff odds now stand at 35%, and with much of their roster remaining from their pair of World Series appearances, you better believe they won’t be sellers as the trade deadline looms—slow start be damned.

The Mariners, however, have some decisions to make. Thanks to parity of unparalleled proportions in the AL, the M’s are miraculously still only 4 games out of the second Wild Card. But after this utterly deflating sweep at the hands of a surging KC squad, they’re moving in the wrong direction. On the wrong side of .500 and falling fast, their playoff odds are down to 10%—the lowest they’ve been in over a month.

It’s amazing what a night of baseball can do.

But for now, at least, we can assume that trading for Jason Vargas is probably off the table.

Somehow, some way, go M’s.