The last just-over-a-week of Mariner baseball has become weird, and even upsetting to watch. The Mariners were riding a six-game win streak which brought them to just two games out of a playoff spot with the Astros slumping. It seemed the stars were aligning for a miracle run as the Mariners traveled to San Francisco to play two games against the Giants.
The Mariners lost both. The Giants, hot as could be, occupied the final playoff spot in the National League and they showed why. Seattle scored five runs in the first three innings in the first game, only to be tied at five at the end of the fourth. The only other run in the game came off of a solo homer by SF outfielder Alex Dickerson to make it 6-5. The second game was not as close, as the Giants dominated the Mariners 10-1. Nick Margevicius saw his record drop to 1-3 after allowing seven of the runs over less than five innings.
In a shortened season, the Mariners had no time to dwell on the losses as they had to leave for three games in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. The Mariners lost their third straight in the first game of the series by a score of 4-3. Kikuchi settled down after allowing three runs in the first inning, but the damage was done. The offense returned for the second game, with the bats exploding out the gate for four runs in the first inning. Jose Marmolejos had his first multi-home run game for Seattle, helping to spark the 7-3 win. In the pivotal third game, Seattle held a one-run lead heading into the sixth inning. The Mariners bats again came alive, scoring five more runs over the final four innings winning the game 7-3 and handing them the series. Donovan Walton drove in three runs in an appeal to secure more starting time with the team.
The Mariners held a double-header in Seattle on Sept. 14, making up a series against the Oakland Athletics that had been postponed due to COVID-19. Oakland raced to a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth, where the floodgates opened. The Mariners scored one in the fourth, three in the fifth, and two more in the sixth, coming back for the 6-5 victory, handing Marco Gonzales his sixth win of the year. Kyle Lewis continued his Rookie of the Year campaign by driving in three runs. Game two was less than pretty. Mike Minor, in his second start for Oakland this year, pitched a gem. Minor went the full seven innings, allowing no runs and just two hits while his team put up seven runs of support.
The next series against the Giants was delayed by a day due to the recent weather conditions in Seattle. Game one was rough for the Mariners, as San Francisco drove in eight runs over the first four innings. LJay Newsome was credited with the loss and Erik Swanson dropped his ERA to 17.47 as the Mariners fell to the Giants 9-3. Casey Sadler did put up 2.2 hitless innings in relief, at least providing a positive takeaway. This positivity was nowhere to be found in the second game, as the Mariners were up 4-1 through five innings and seemed to be cruising towards a victory, but the Giants scored five over the final two innings to nab the comeback and sweep the series 2-0.
With ten games to go, the Mariners have lost ground on the Astros. To catch Houston, they would need to make up a three-game deficit in the final stretch. This looks unlikely, considering the final ten games consists of three at the 32-19 San Diego, three at home against Houston and four at first-place Oakland.
Around baseball, most teams are experiencing their fair share of excitement. Alec Mills for the Chicago Cubs threw the 12th no-hitter in team history against the Milwaukee Brewers. Mills, a twenty-second round draft pick in 2012 for the Kansas City Royals, was a walk-on for the University of Tennessee, and had a career ERA over 4.00 heading into the game. It was a Cinderella story for the ages.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Teams are also beginning to clinch the playoffs, some of them breaking sizable postseason droughts. In what has become a familiar story, the Los Angeles Dodgers have clinched a postseason berth yet again, while the Chicago White Sox have clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2008. The Tampa Bay Rays are also advancing to the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Padres are almost assured a playoff spot but have at least secured a winning record for the first time since 2010.
The Atlanta Braves laid off several of their best scouts, potentially ruining the farm system they had built up. A lot of doomsayers are spreading word that this is a sign of the end times for minor league baseball. In a strange season full of strange happenings, Tampa Bay became the first team to start nine left-handed batters in one game. Baseball lost some of its legends, with Mets legend Tom Seaver and Cardinals legend Lou Brock both tragically passing away. Meanwhile, Cleveland starter Shane Beiber reached 100 strikeouts in 62.1 innings pitched, the fastest any starter has ever done it, and Freddie Freeman has batted .403 since Aug. 5 in a push for his first MVP award.
It’s strange that a sport that has been around for over 100 years can keep surprising people, but it feels good to be a part of it all.