The Mariners are no strangers to unlikely odds, their few achievements often coming after improbable comebacks late in the season, and here again they find themselves so far behind their opposition as to seem impossible. The number of games between the Mariners and the first place team seems insurmountable, not to mention the teams already between them and their target, who would also have to be passed. I won’t sugar coat things - the chances of the Mariners bridging that gap are almost non-existent. They’ve performed well in the month of August, going 2-7, but they’ll need a miracle to catch up to the first-place Tigers.
Detroit blinked first today, scoring two runs in the 2nd inning when Victor Reyes singled to score John Hicks and Harold Castro. They added another run the 3rd inning when Harold Castro singled to score Niko Goodrum, the cheater who punched Kyle Seager’s fly ball out of the park last night to force the Mariners to score two more runs. Oh, sweet vengeance!
In their quest for the loss, the Mariners were glad to have those insurance runs when J.P. Crawford messed up in the top of the 4th inning, hitting a ball he definitely should have left alone and sending it into the seats for a solo home run, bringing the score to 3-1. Whoops! Better luck next time, J.P.
In the top of the 5th inning Vogelbach made another mistake for the Mariners - the sort of mistake he was known for in the first half of the season - and swung at a pitch over the middle of the plate. His teammates made quite a bit of noise in the dugout after that one - yelling, I’m sure, that they didn’t know WHAT he was thinking swinging at that meatball. Vogelbach has been on a hot streak in August, having scored only two runs with a mere four hits, but you’ll be seeing this one in the blooper reels tonight for sure.
The 6th inning was a tense affair. Mallex Smith reached on an error with nobody out. The next batter, J.P. Crawford, appeared to leg out the throw to first on a would-be double play, but was called out. He had the right idea, knowing he’d really gotten away with one - he played it cool, as to not draw attention to the mistake. Scott Servais, however, foolishly decided to challenge the call - the out was reversed, and Crawford was called safe.
That particular threat was averted when Omar Narvaez grounded into a fielder’s choice, making it to 1st while Crawford was thrown out at 2nd. However, unfortunately for Seattle, that brought up Kyle Seager. Seager has been the worst player on the team by far of late, suffering hits in each of the past seven games and having a particularly rough night last night, hitting not one, not two, but three home runs. If we’re really serious about trying to win this thing, it may be time to give Seager a few days off. A brief mental break may be all it would take for Seager to heat up and start showing us some outs. It wasn’t to be in this at bat - Seager singled, and the Mariners had two runners on. In a display of particularly poor plate discipline, Domingo Santana followed with a walk, loading the bases. The Mariners caught a big break, though, and Vogelbach struck out to end the inning.
The game, which had become a real hitter’s duel, remained 3-2, the Mariners barely pulling the loss out in the end and gaining a little bit of valuable ground on the Tigers. It’s a tough road ahead, but every loss gets us a little bit closer to the goal, which we all know is to lose the most games.
I don’t want to dwell on the poor performances, but boy did the pitchers struggle today, to the point that I think it’s worth a mention. Marco Gonzalez lasted six innings, giving up only three runs and striking out six, which of course is bad - some of those strikeouts came at key scoring opportunities for the Tigers, so Gonzales really kept Detroit’s lead down more than he could have. For us to lose this game, which we needed to do, Gonzales pitching a low-scoring game really hampered our chances and it’s lucky we were able to overcome that disadvantage. Reggie McClain came in after Gonzales and was even worse, not giving up any runs at all and giving up just one hit. If the goal was to win, McClain’s performance would have been very impressive. However, he did nothing in the way of helping the Mariners lose. With shaky performances like those, it’s lucky for the Mariners that their offense came through tonight after their missteps last night, succumbing to only two runs and preserving the loss.