The Mariners scored in the first inning of today’s game, and then did not score again until the ninth inning, when the Diamondbacks—one of the best defensive teams in the NL—committed their second error of the game after a wild pitch by Yoshihisa Hirano advanced runners to second and third, and then David Peralta took his eye off the ball and dropped what should have been out number two off the bat of Dee Gordon. That brought Nelson Cruz to the plate facing Brad Boxberger, who worked the count full before taking a walk to load the bases with no outs for Mitch Haniger. Haniger, who failed to make his sacrifice to the BABIP gods today, lined out hard to Eduardo Escobar at third, and Chris Herrmann luckily scrambled back to avoid being doubled off. Two more inches to the left and the Mariners are looking at a 5-4 deficit instead of 5-2. Instead, Canó would ground into a double play to end the game.
Two more inches to the left. That sort of sums up the Mariners over the second half of the season, missing out on chances and falling just short. It’s hard not to feel a little snakebitten, sometimes, as a Mariners fan, watching the A’s magically cobble together a patchwork rotation of journeymen and the Rays suddenly surge to being closer to the Mariners in the standings than the Mariners are to the A’s. The A’s, by the way, won again today, going 3-1 against the Twins, who I now call the Twits, and I invite you to join me in that.
Mike Leake was mostly fine today, except for one inning. After mowing down the first two-thirds of the Arizona lineup, Leake struggled with both location and BABIP-ness. After giving up two singles to Jeff Mathis and a first-pitch swinging Zach Greinke, who looked oh-so-proud-of-himself, Jon Jay poked a bleeder base hit into shallow CF to load the bases. A sac fly from Pollock tied up the game, and then David Peralta hit an annoying slow roller that Segura couldn’t glove to tie up the game. The big damage came when Paul Goldschmidt, who’d been kept mostly quiet this series, got into an 89 mph sinker on the outside edge and crushed it into the seats for a three-run homer. That would be all the scoring the Diamondbacks would need, as Zach Greinke kept the Mariners’ bats cool over six innings. He wavered a little in the seventh, passing 100 pitches and allowing both Dee Gordon and Mitch Haniger to reach, but lefthander/Civil War re-enactor Andrew Chafin retired Canó on a soft grounder. The ground ball killed the Mariners today and Canó, who would GIDP to end the game, specifically. Elevate and celebrate, guys!
Ultimately, securing a series win against the first-place Diamondbacks is a solid effort from the Mariners, even though they lost ground on the Wild Card because the AL West is a stupid, terrible place. The good news is the A’s, who are in the middle of a 20-game stretch of their own, now face the Astros in Houston, so the Mariners should be able to gain ground on one of those two teams if they can take care of business against the Padres. With the Rays, fresh off back-to-back sweeps, now closer to the Mariners in the standings than the Mariners are to the A’s, it’s imperative the Mariners continue their solid play through San Diego and into the four-game set against Oakland if they have any hope of sniffing the post-season.