You’d think that this game, featuring homers from Mitch Haniger (nice!), Kyle Seager (oh wow!), and Guillermo Heredia (uh wait what?), would restore fans’ confidence in the Mariners offense.
You’d think that any shutout win would assuage doubt in the rotation, and in the non-Edwin Díaz section of the bullpen.
You’d think that, with 10 games left in the season, an 84–68 record would put this team right in the thick of things in the AL playoff race.
You would think.
But instead, in this once-glorious season turned season of our discontent, this win served only to remind us of what could have been. It shows us the potential we had and the potential that we squandered (run differential be damned).
All that said: A win is a win, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy every single run we smushed into the Lastros’ collective face. From Mitch Haniger’s sly slide (which caused me and fellow staff writer John “Big Country” Trupin to literally yelp out loud)...
...to Kyle Seager hitting a true bomb to the upper deck off B-Rad Peacock...
...to Jean Segura getting a killer haircut from Astros mascot Orbit...
...there were some highlights. Note, of course, that all these came on offense or between innings, because the pitching today was quintessential September baseball. Seven relievers combined for a nine-inning shutout, allowing five hits while walking three and striking out three. Casey Lawrence “earned” the win thanks to three strong innings pitched between the 2nd and the 4th.
And, of course, this win gives the Mariners a 10–9 win in the season series against Houston, the first time they’ve won the season series since 2014. As a shutout win, too, it made some history:
#Mariners second-ever shutout win in Houston. The other: June 21, 2002. Jamie Moyer had 11 strikeouts. Dan Wilson HR'd.— Aaron Goldsmith (@heygoldy) September 20, 2018
All that said, this game remains something of a sad testament to what could have been. It’s hard to muster much enthusiasm about this team given their tenuous-at-best playoff positioning; with 10 games left, the teal and blue remain seven games back of the Oakland A’s, and I struggle to imagine a scenario where they can catch Oakland as well as the Tampa Bay Rays.
The playoffs may be out of reach for this season, but as Mariners faithful, we’re used to rooting for a baseball team even when we may be running low on hope. Perhaps there are bright signs to take away, then, from today — highlighted by Guillermo Heredia hitting a dinger and Roenis Elías lowering his ERA to 3.18 (and his FIP to 2.92!).
If either Heredia or Elías are legitimate options in 2019, it may speak to a lack of other options moreso than talent suddenly showing itself. But, regardless, it’s good to see signs of life from them, just as it’s heartwarming to see Seager flex some longball muscle. Kyle turning it around would go a long way to fix the offensive woes of late going into next season.
I know we’re at a disappointing part in a disappointing conclusion to the season. I’m just as dismayed and, well, disappointed as you are. But all that said, a win is a win, and as tough as this season has been, I suppose there are positives to take away. So let’s embrace that...right?