Nothing this season makes sense.
To wit: On August 10, John Trupin wrote a post entitled “Nobody has ever made the playoffs with a rotation as bad as the Mariners.’” With a FIP of 5.13, and an 1.74 HR/9 rate, things were looking pretty bad for the M’s.
Since then, Seattle starting pitchers have combined for a FIP of 5.32, throwing just 103.2 IP (tied for 28th-best in all of MLB).
And after all that, after using a team-record number of pitchers due to all the injuries this season as well as Jerry Dipoto’s obsession with trades, the Mariners are just 3.5 games back of the second Wild Card position.
So, should we be surprised that this squad pulled out a 7-6 win today over the Oakland Athletics? Should we be that shocked that today’s starter went just 3.0 innings, and the very first reliever brought in allowed four runs in a third of an inning? Should anything even surprise us anymore?
This game started out almost exactly like a Yovani Gallardo start should. Yo took 35 pitches to get out of the first inning, somehow escaping unscathed despite a bases-loaded, no-out jam. He needed 27 more to emerge from the 2nd, though a solo shot from Bruce Maxwell at the end of a 12-pitch at-bat put the A’s on the board. And after 18 more pitches in the 3rd and another homer, Scott Servais had seen enough.
Robinson Canó helped out with his first longball in over a month, but Casey Lawrence quickly capitulated, allowing three hits and two walks while getting just a single out. Four runs later and the Mariners were staring down the barrel of a 6-2 deficit, needing to rely on a shaky ‘pen and a sputtering offense.
But that sputtering offense came through, as its power manifested itself at the perfect time. Back-to-back jacks from Jean Segura and Yonder Alonso helped chase Oakland starter Jharel Cotton in the 5th inning and brought the boys in blue within two. In the sixth, Segura lined a two-out double to left that scored Mike Zunino.
And in the eighth, when at-bats were dwindling, Zunino came through:
We’re into September, and Zunino’s .239/.319/.500 (good for a wRC+ of 119) looks pretty dang good. It’s great to see Mike Z finally thriving.
After Edwin Diaz did Edwin Diaz things in the top of the ninth — read: walk the leadoff batter on four pitches, make the next two hitters look stupid on breaking pitches, then get the third out and act like everything was easy as pie — it was the offense’s turn.
Jean Segura? Leadoff single/error thing.
Yonder Alonso? Line drive single to right, with Segura showing off some heads-up baserunning and advancing to third.
Robinson Canó? Intentional walk.
But after Nelson Cruz flailed at a couple pitches in the dirt and Kyle Seager popped out to shallow left, it seemed as though all might be lost.
However, this team doesn’t lose that easily! Instead, it wins pretty dang stupidly:
With all of this, the Mariners have, against all odds, returned to .500. This team doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near playoff contention, yet here they are. Bounces are going the Mariners’ way at the moment. Perhaps the Baseball Gods are doing what they can to boost this silly team in this silly season.
It’s obviously impossible to say. What I can say, however, is that this team is Fun, and Stupid, and Wonderful. Baseball isn’t supposed to make sense. It’s supposed to provide us entertainment and hope, and after this game, that sounds just about right for the 2017 Seattle Mariners.
So let’s go win us another ballgame tomorrow, huh? Because, why not?