As other teams around the league continue to get better at the trade deadline—the most notable example being Texas trading today to get Max Scherzer—tonight’s game was yet another reminder that the Mariners simply aren’t at the level of the teams that are seriously in it. Once again, the offense wilted, failing to punish a starter with an ERA closer to 10 than it is to 0, with stranded runners littered throughout the game and another one-run loss keeping the Mariners right where they’ve been all season: heads above water, but only just.
Bryan Woo fought through five innings against the latest onslaught of lefties, giving up three runs on seven hits and striking out zero batters. It could have been much worse for Woo, but he was bailed out by several sparkling defensive plays, including two by Eugenio Suárez, who continued his wizardry at the hot corner.
Kolten Wong also had some nice surehanded plays, including this leaping snare:
Woo just did not have anything that missed the D-Backs’ bats tonight; he got some weak-contact outs but also too often got ahead in advantageous counts only to serve something over the plate for the hungry hungry hitters to punish. He got all of five—five—whiffs on his 73 pitches tonight, and while a pitch-to-contact profile isn’t a huge deal when you’re getting grounders and soft-contact outs, the mistake pitches Woo made cost him, as did the two free passes he issued trying to work around Arizona’s lefty-heavy lineup.
Woo simply could not get any bites on his secondary stuff tonight; the D-Backs didn’t offer at any of his secondaries except the cutter, which they swung at half the time (four of the eight he threw) and missed none of the time. More troublingly, Woo got absolutely no whiffs on his fastball, and only three called strikes on the pitch. It’s a tough spot for Woo to be in, trying to learn on the fly against the best hitters in the world, but until he has something resembling a reliable secondary, it’s going to make his good stuff play down as hitters can just sit fastball-sinker, with lefties doing the bulk of the damage.
With Woo only going five that left three innings for the bullpen to cover (at least) and once again, Gabe Speier shined against a lefty-heavy lineup, giving an inning of relief and then getting the next out in the seventh, yielding to Justin Topa, who allowed a hit but retired the next two batters. Once again, though, it was Andrés Muñoz who failed in the pivot role, opening the eighth by walking Corbin Carroll on five pitches, who would have stolen second if he hadn’t been balked there and then stole third immediately; Carroll would then score what would be the winning run on a ground-ball single by Dominic Canzone.
It wasn’t a great performance by the pitching staff, but four runs allowed is that murky area where a good offense should be able to pick up their pitchers, especially when the opposing starting pitcher has an ERA that starts with a number it takes a solid month of Duolingo lessons to get to. The Mariners put plenty of traffic on the bases but had to settle for a couple of sacrifice flies to score their first two runs, added a third on a Tom Murphy home run, and then failed to push another run across despite putting two on in the fourth, two on in the fifth, stranding a runner at third in the sixth, and again squandering Cade Marlowe’s first triple and potential tying run in the ninth. Somehow, every hitter in the lineup except Eugenio Suárez had at least a hit—and Suárez had a sac fly and no strikeouts—and yet it all amounted to not enough, which unfortunately, is also the theme of this season. Nice try. Not enough.