The Mariners are going to make the playoffs. It’s just going to happen.
I know last week sapped all of our collective strength and made The Thing happening feel more up in the air, but as our own Isabelle Minasian wrote on Monday, the worst case scenario for the Mariners is Wild Card #2.
But, as we saw today, it’s worth aiming for the best case.
Yet early on, tonight’s game threatened to be another painful, no good, very bad, M’s loss to a bad team. In the first inning, Nathaniel Lowe bounced a double off the centerfield wall before being driven in by Josh Jung, may the devil double triple damn him.
Yet that threat proved hollow. Ranger’s starter Martín Pérez had no command early on, either nibbling around the zone or just hanging stuff down the middle. Uncharacteristically, the Mariners actually punished mistakes, first with a leadoff walk, then with a Ty France single that popped out of Josh Smith’s glove to move Moore into scoring position.
And then our recently returned Savior of Vibes Eugenio Suarez decided that tonight was a good time to remember that he is a good baseball player and smacked a double of his own to tie the game. Mitch Haniger followed that up by Putting a Ball in the Air (extremely difficult) and giving the M’s a lead with a sac fly.
Two more innings went by and in the third the M’s decided that Three is the number of the day, and Three will be the number of runs they score. So, in the third inning (of course), they loaded the bases courtesy of singles from France and Suarez, and a walk from Mitch. Santana then bounced one over Pérez’s head that looked like it might end up as a hit, but he was slower than Josh Smith, who made up for his earlier bobble by making a pretty nice play for the out. No matter, the run scored anyway.
That was the last run, though. Pérez soon got comfortable, and found that the ump was giving him the inside of the plate, so he tried to live there as much as he could, and induced a bunch of weak contact.
But two pitchers can play the game of weak contact, and that’s exactly what George Kirby did tonight. In fact the contact he allowed was so weak, that he set the longest streak in Mariners history for most starts without allowing a home run.
George Kirby with his 14th consecutive start without allowing a home run. Longest starter streak in M's history.— Gary Hill Jr. (@GaryHillJr) September 29, 2022
Only Tyson Ross (16), Clayton Kershaw (15) and Francisco Liriano (15) have gone longer in a single-season since 2000
First inning Josh Jungining and a second inning jam aside, the Kirb was great tonight. It felt like he was always in control and, most importantly for a starter, confident. I like George. He’s a good pitcher.
But you know who was great tonight? Andrés Muñoz. He lived with his slider tonight and made it work. I mean, just look at this.
I’m pretty sure a slider like that counts as cruel and unusual punishment.
Muad’Dib Sewald capped the game off with a relaxing 1-2-3 inning, and now we can all sleep easy knowing that the Mariners remembered how to beat bad baseball teams.
So, not a nail-biter, and not a laugher. It was kind of boring, as much as a game this late in the season can be boring. But boring wins are good, and far, far better than boring losses. But what does this win mean for the M’s going forward.
A lot, actually. Today it all went right. All three of the Mariners Wild Card rivals lost their games, while (spoiler alert) the M’s won. They are now two games back from Toronto in Wild Card #1, and Seattle has won the season series vs. the Blue Jays, meaning a tie goes to the Mariners. Wild Card #1 is the slot we want. That’s the slot that brings playoff baseball back to the Emerald City.
And so while we get ready to celebrate The Thing finally happening, let's push ourselves to hope for more. I yearn for the Mariners to play in the postseason, but even more, I yearn for them to play in Seattle.
So while Three is the number on everyone’s lips, tonight, I’m thinking of Two.