I had two interesting feelings today, both related, ones I haven’t had for a long, long time, and certainly not when associated with the Mariners.
The first came during the entirety of the first 5.5 innings, and that was a feeling of confidence. See, if Mariners fandom has instilled anything in me, it’s probably a gnawing skepticism, a festering sore at the core of any pride I feel. It’s this idea that things will come crashing down because things always come crashing down. I was too young to enjoy the Griffey years, and realistically too young to enjoy the 2001 M’s. So more often than not, I’ve entered every game waiting for the house of cards to come tumbling down.
But with this streak that we’re on as of late, anything is possible. (Cue Kevin Garnett.)
Perhaps that’s why I was perfectly content to wait it out today. It didn’t hurt that Marco Gonzales spun a gem for 6.2 innings; even without his normal pinpoint control (he walked four hitters), he was aided by some nifty pickoff moves.
After this start, he’s up to 19.1 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, as the Rangers’ lone run today came home on a passed ball. I’d still like to see a few more strikeouts before I get too excited, but his new-found ability to go deep into games is welcome news for the Mariners.
The bottom of the sixth meant showtime for the M’s. It was the third time through the order, and getting things going was — who else? — Guillermo Heredia with a single to left. An error from Rougned Odor at second allowed Denard Span to beat out a would-be double play. From there, the middle of the order went to work, with a single from Mitch Haniger and a rocket off the bat of Nelson Cruz.
Now, it’s the newly-shorn Kyle Seager’s turn to stunt. (It must be noted that, on the broadcast, we were told Kyle shaved because his beard scares his daughter. Yikes.)
Cluster luck? Sure. Awesome hitting? You betcha, and that hitting is what put the M’s on top for good.
Now we’re at the second strange feeling of the day: confidence in the back end of the Mariners bullpen. And not just Edwin Díaz, who continues to eat souls in the 9th. It’s the newly-formed combo of Alex Colomé, along with the lefty option of James Pazos, and Díaz that has me more excited about an 8/9 finish than I can remember.
For his part, Colomé recorded a fly out and a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a single. He looked every bit the stud reliever we just acquired, and it was a delight to watch. And handing the ball to Sugar in the ninth felt unfair, as he shut the door on the Rangers and gave the M’s a 2-1 victory.
Now, where does all of that leave us?
me trying to understand how my beloved mariners are 33-20 pic.twitter.com/2Sb0ElMLEP— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) May 28, 2018
Yes, you read that correctly: The M’s are 33-20. They haven’t been this far above .500 since September 19, 2014. It’s true that many of their wins have come in unsustainable fashion, especially in one-run games (16-8 in those thus far). But it’s also true that teams with a dominant bullpen are likely to outperform those numbers, and you can make a case that Edwin Díaz has been the best closer in all of baseball this season.
There’s still lots of season left. There’s time to blow it, and for things to take a turn for the worse, in keeping with that clawing deep down inside of us. But this team has won, and it’s done it with an admirable scrappiness. Despite losing several major contributors, Scott Servais’ bunch has fought on, and that’s why we sit just one game out of the AL West division lead, and 4.5 games in the clear in the second Wild Card standings.
Because of all that, I’m going to ignore that feeling of doubt and embrace this feeling of confidence. I’m going to choose to believe, to refuse to lose, to rekindle that SoDo Mojo we once had in spades. Maybe that’s all it takes. Well, that and a darn good baseball club — and I really do think we have one of those.