Really, the fact that it took this long for the Mariners to be on the wrong end of a series sweep is pretty remarkable. In the past two seasons, it’s happened in the second series. In 2015, it was the third series. 2014 was a little better in that they staved off getting swept until their sixth series, but given that it was against the Marlins, that might be worse. In any case, this was going to be a tough series, and this outcome wasn’t out of the question.
But hot damn, will it be nice to not see Yankee Stadium again in the regular season.
James Paxton quickly ran into trouble in the first, giving up a hard hit the other way to Clint Frazier. Pax threw four fastballs in that sequence, none harder than 93 MPH. He was able to crank it up to 96 against Aaron Judge, but got the opposite of his desired result:
Frustrating, yes, even though Judge is absurdly strong. That inside-out swing punished the ball at 107.8 MPH, and while James missed his spot, it wasn’t an awful pitch.
The same cannot be said for the 1-0 pitch he threw to Giancarlo Stanton:
Again, this was 96, but Stanton extended his arms, barreled up the ball, and roped it deep to center. Mitch Haniger, filling in again at center field, looked to have a bead on it, but best-case, maybe it would go off the wall?
Bless you, you beautiful man.
After sitting down Didi Gregorius on three pitches, Paxton allowed a single to Gleyber Torres. Miguel Andújar, newest member of the Mariner Killer Club, climbed in and hit a lazy fly ball to right field.
Ohhhh, that’s right, they play in a Little League ballpark. The exit velocity on this “dinger” was 94 MPH, with a hit probability of just thirteen percent. Ugh. Pax did get out of further trouble after tussling with Greg Bird for nine pitches, though a deficit this wide this early was a big demoralizer.
Kyle Seager immediately cut it in half:
See that? That’s an actual home run there. Unfortunately, this was all they would get this inning. Luis Severino was in several jams across his whole start, but wiggled free in three straight innings, thanks to a couple of double plays and having the privilege of facing Andrew Romine. The M’s finally got to him again in the sixth, with back-to-back hits from Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager setting up a Ben Gamel revenge base hit up the middle to cut the Yankees’ lead to one.
Paxton also settled down, although his fastball velocity continued to waver and he struggled to put guys away efficiently. Throwing 107 pitches over just five innings, he also walked three, but you can point to an egregiously bad strike zone for at least some of the blame.
Pax called balls vs. Severino called balls. I count maybe five borderline-ish calls for Severino, with one of those being egregious, vs. about 10 for Pax, with at least three egregious misses. pic.twitter.com/7w0i4ATkNF— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) June 21, 2018
On the bright side, he struck out nine, and an overall whiff rate of just under 15% is always a welcome sight. Despite stumbling a bit in his last two starts, Paxton’s peripherals are still excellent, and both times the bullpen has been able to stop the bleeding. Chasen Bradford and Nick Rumbelow combined for three scoreless innings, giving the bats every chance to snag the lead.
Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be today. David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman sawed through the M’s lineup, allowing just one hit - to Andrew Romine! - across 3.1 innings. Things did get a little interesting in the eighth after Ryon Healy worked a walk (!) with two outs and was lifted for Guillermo Heredia. With the count 2-2, Guillermo took off for second...
Wouldn’t quite be a disappointing loss without a TOOTBLAN, right?
This sweep definitely tastes foul, but the much-feared gauntlet draws to a close this weekend, with three games in Boston looming. Winning at least one would leave them in great shape, and hopefully Wade LeBlanc can come close to repeating his absolutely dominant outing against those same Red Sox tomorrow. The Angels don’t play for another few hours, and absolute worst case, the team will still be six games up on a playoff spot. Things could be much, much worse.