The last couple weeks weren’t supposed to develop like this. After the Mariners feasted on a relatively easy schedule in May, June looked like a tall order. Fifteen games against all of the American League contenders? Just escape the month at around .500 and things should be gravy.
The M’s are now 9-2 in June.
Dee Gordon led off the first by sneaking a ground ball under Zack Cozart’s glove, snapping an 0-for-16 slump. While Dee’s glove at second and baserunning abilities remain excellent, he has to hit better than he’s done in the last couple weeks, and seeing him check in with a hit right away was a great sight to see. Although Jean Segura quickly grounded into a double play, Mitch Haniger washed away any disappointment:
What an absurdly good piece of hitting. José Barría isn’t an overpowering pitcher, but he hit his spot perfectly here, and Haniger did an excellent job of keeping his head in on the swing. Nelson Cruz would pop out to end the frame, but it was impossible to be disappointed with a delightful dinger.
Mike Leake wasn’t at his sharpest tonight, walking more batters than in his previous six outings. He battled through the first few innings, contending with an inconsistent zone and pesky at-bats from both José Miguel Fernández and Jabari Blash. His ground ball ways remained intact, though, and Leake pulled nine groundouts out of the Angels’ bats while allowing just a single run over six innings.
Guess who was responsible for the run?
Mike Trout has hit more home runs at Safeco Field than Dustin Ackley. Leake would get out of the fifth by ringing up Albert Pujols on three pitches, but the air had been sucked out of Safeco.
It was quickly blown back in:
After tonight’s game, Mitch is just one short of matching his homer output from last season. His wRC+ sits at 137, his ISO is pushing .250, and he’s running a double digit walk rate. Oh, and he teamed up with Jean on easily the best defensive play of the year so far:
Yeah. All-Star material.
Ryon Healy followed up last night’s dinger with another in the sixth, and the ball was handed to Ryan Cook to start the seventh. Blash and Martín Maldonado were quickly dismissed on strikes, but Ian Kinsler managed to grind out a walk on seven pitches. With Trout once again up, Kinsler stole second, leaving first base open for the possibility of an intentional walk.
They didn’t opt for it.
Mike Trout is the only player to have consecutive multi-homer games at Safeco Field. I understand both the rationale and emotion behind giving him the Barry Bonds treatment whenever possible, but this was far from a nail in the coffin. Besides, one-run games are the M’s brand this year. Cook followed up that dinger by allowing a double off the bat of Justin Upton, and was yanked for James Pazos, who snuffed out any hope of a rally on a first-pitch groundout from Albert Pujols. The one run lead didn’t last for long, either, with Dee collecting his third hit of the game, grabbing second on an errant Upton throw, and coming home on a Segura double into the right-field corner. Aren’t insurance runs a neat concept?
Álex Colomé pitched a scoreless, if nerve-wracking eighth, and Healy wasn’t quite done:
Seveteen runs have been scored in these two games. All but one of them have come off of a long ball. Haniger and Healy became the first pair of Mariners to hit two homers in the same game in over a decade, easily their brightest moment together since their outing to Marination over the offseason:
Edwin Díaz pumped fastballs all through the ninth, blowing away Maldonaldo and getting Kinsler on a lazy flyout. All that stood against a victory was - you guessed it - Mike Trout. With the count 1-2 after four fastballs, Edi pulled out the string.
One-run wins are rad, but comfortable wins like this are good for the soul. Once again, the game never felt out of reach, and the Mariners have secured yet another series win. Sweepsmas Eve is drawing to a close, and Marco Gonzales faces Garrett Richards tomorrow in what should be a great pitching matchup. If only one didn’t have to subject themself to Facebook in order to watch it.