Mariners Falter Exiting All-Star Break

Photo by mandolux is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

With ups and downs galore, the Seattle Mariners saw both the end to the All-Star break and their 14-game win streak this past week.

With the Houston Astros coming to town, it was foolish to expect the Mariners to continue their dominant streak. It was foreshadowed by the announcement that rookie superstar Julio Rodriguez hurt his wrist the previous Friday and would miss time. Baseball wouldn’t wait for his health, so the Mariners ended up taking the field without him. What followed was the first Seattle loss in over two weeks. Marco Gonzales allowed five runs in five innings, which was all the Astros needed to win 5-2. Ty France did launch a home run in the sixth inning to cut the deficit, but it hardly mattered. It was Kyle Lewis who had the roughest go of it, smacking a line drive with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, which was caught in spectacular fashion by Houston rookie Jeremy Pena.

The second game was arguably worse from the offense’s standpoint. Sure, the pitching staff, headed up by Logan Gilbert, only allowed three runs. However, the Mariners themselves could only muster one, courtesy of a Carlos Santana home run. The offense did seemingly turn a corner in game three of the series, scoring five runs late in the game, including a two-run home run by Abraham Toro. This was instead countered by Robbie Ray’s worst start of the season, allowing six runs in three innings. The Astros won 8-5 and secured the series sweep.

The Mariners received another setback when it came out that Jesse Winker would not play in the series opener against the Texas Rangers on July 25. Winker had previously collided with Pena in the previous game on the basepaths, resulting in him being pulled from the game and being diagnosed with a sprained ankle. Down Rodriguez and Winker, the Mariners had to make it work.

And make it work they did. Chris Flexen allowed two runs over six innings of work, while the Mariners put up four runs in support, including France’s second home run since the break. The Rangers tacked on one more in the ninth, but still fell 4-3.

The success continued when the Mariners put up two runs in the first inning of the next game that featured a solo home run by the returning Rodriguez to lead off the game. The 2-0 lead held until the seventh inning, when Texas got one back that was answered by a Cal Raleigh bomb to make the score 3-1. However, the Rangers added two in the eighth and another in the ninth to take a 4-3 lead heading into the final three outs. J.P. Crawford singled and was knocked in by a Raleigh double to tie the game. Adam Frazier bunted Raleigh over to third, causing the Rangers to intentionally walk Rodriguez and France. With the bases loaded and one out, Santana hit into a sacrifice fly to score Raleigh and walk off the game, 5-4.

Marco took to the mound for the second time this week, hoping to secure a series sweep in answer to being swept not three days ago. The Mariners drew first blood with an RBI double by Sam “The Godfather” Haggerty to score Crawford in the second inning. The Rangers chipped two runs across in the fifth and sixth to take a 2-1 lead that stood into the seventh inning. With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Raleigh walked and Haggerty doubled to put both runners in scoring position with Rodriguez coming to the plate. On a 1-1 pitch, Julio blasted a 416-foot home run to give the Mariners their final score of 4-2.

The Mariners remain in the midst of their hardest stretch of schedule this season. They have four more against Houston this week, followed by three at the Yankees; two of the best teams in baseball. The Mariners will have to eventually beat them if they make the playoffs, so it can’t hurt to start now.