Like a late-August sunset gliding into darkness, the Mariners have snuck their way across the AL horizon and into the wildcard conversation. Tonight was game two of the second half, though, and if they keep playing like they did in this clunky 7-1 loss to the Angels it will be a much more abrupt, fade-to-black end of the year.
Their performance tonight was a seemingly endless series of entries in Missed Connections: Baseball Edition. Yusei Kikuchi got the start, his first since his All-Star appointment. Though the lefty wasn’t on any sort of pitch count, he was “under the weather and off his routine” this past week and it was evident he was not operating at 100%. Kikuchi struggled through five innings, giving up nine hits and an ERA-escalating seven earned runs. The slider was rockin’ early on, but the cutter was…uh…not.
It was a season-worst outing for YK, but given the illness and discombobulation of his schedule, particularly for a man who thrives on routine, there doesn’t seem to be too much reason to worry now...
Alex Cobb started for the Angels, and early on he looked tantalizingly mortal while struggling to find the strike zone. Unfortunately, rather than capitalize on the bedraggled-looking Cobb, the Mariners instead treated him like I’ve treated the five-day-old pile of clean laundry in the hamper by my door: A look of benign distaste, tacit acknowledgement that they could (and probably should), but ultimately a shrug and pivot away.
Kyle Seager notched that neat 0-for-0 line with four walks on the night, should’ve-been-an-All-Star J.P. Crawford notched three hits himself, and Jarred Kelenic now has himself a tasty ‘lil two-game hit streak.
Mitch Haniger fought valiantly to make it interesting in the top of the ninth, power-blooping an 87 mph fastball just around the foul pole and over the top of the left field fence for a three-run homer, but the bottom of the order fizzled out and the sun set on a series sweep. But hey, they’ll rise bright and early to play again tomorrow.