The Seattle Mariners have had their fair share of struggles this season, but as of late, it would seem they have found some solution to this diversity and have grinded out win after win. It started back on June 26 in the final game of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. The Mariners were coming in having won the first two of those games, as well as the three before that. Tensions rose quickly however when the Angels changed their starting pitcher hours before the game and started throwing at Mariner batters. Pitcher Andrew Wantz narrowly missed Julio Rodriguez in the first inning, but connected with Jesse Winker in the second, sparking the most violent brawl I’ve seen in my lifetime. The Mariners would go on to lose that game, but it seems they might have found something worth a bit more.
After losing that game, as well as the following one against the Baltimore Orioles, the Mariners settled into one of their best stretches of the year. They won the second and third games of the Baltimore series, 2-0 and 9-3. They then took three of four from the Oakland Athletics by the score of 8-6, 1-3, 2-1 and 2-1 again. In the final two games before their most recent day off, they swept a two-game series against the San Diego Padres, 8-2 and 6-2.
As you might be able to tell by the scores, the Mariners’ success has largely resided in their truly elite pitching as of late. In these last 10 games, with the Mariners having gone 7-3, they have allowed just 29 runs; good for 2.9 per game, second only to the New York Yankees. Opponents are batting a collective .217, sixth in the Majors at this time. Seattle’s Earned Run Average of 77 means that their pitching is 23 percent better than the league average, and fifth in baseball.
The starters in particular have been downright elite. Robbie Ray has pitched 13.2 innings over his two starts, allowing just one run and striking out 20. Chris Flexen has allowed just three runs over his two starts. Marco Gonzales, just four. Logan Gilbert and George Kirby have been less spectacular, but Gilbert’s on his way to the All-Star Game, and Kirby is still a rookie.
The offense has been less than stellar during this stretch. Their 41 runs place them in the bottom half of the league, their Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) of 100 is literally the definition of league average, their 1.1 total Wins Above Replacement during this time is tied for 18th with the New York Mets. Seattle strikes out a whopping 25 percent of the time, which is good for fifth worst. Furthermore, their 6.8 walk percentage is bottom four. It has not been pretty.
That isn’t to say they have all struggled. Aspiring Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez won his second Rookie of the Month award in a row, having gone 12-36 with four home runs and 10 runs since that fateful Angels game. Abraham Toro is hitting .300, and the veteran acquisition Carlos Santana is really starting to heat up. Sam Haggerty made the most of his opportunities by going 7-17, as well as playing great defense. It’s easy to chalk up the struggles to those who aren’t playing: Ty France just came back July 7, Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis are hoping to be back at the end of July, Tom Murphy is out for the year and Jesse Winker is missing the week with a suspension. But they’re trying to make it work with what they’ve got and they’re doing just enough to net win after win.