September is Truly the Hottest Month

After a 5-1 record over the previous week, the Seattle Mariners would have to face off against two teams with worse records than them. It would be easy to say that anything less than a stellar week would be a disappointment, but there is no disappointment with the Mariners.

They went out of their way to prove it to us in the first game. Bats went cold in the opener against the Los Angeles Angels, as Nick Margevicius’ six stellar innings weren’t enough. He allowed just two runs on seven hits, but was still credited with the loss and the Mariners only put up one run on Angels starter Andrew Heaney. Tim Lopes drove in a run in the top of the ninth against Ty Buttrey, but Seattle still fell 3-2.

It’s easy to write off that victory. You can’t win them all, but the Angels somehow consistently have the Mariners’ number, whatever excuse you might have. They decided to one-up that game the next day. Anthony Rendon hit an RBI double off Justus Sheffield in the first, but Lopes tied it in the second with a double of his own. Adell hit a two-run shot in the next inning to give the Angels a 3-1 lead before the floodgates opened. Bottom of the fifth, Rendon walks in a run and Albert Pujols slaps a two-run single to make it 6-1. In the next inning, Adell hit his second home run, Trout drove in two with a double and Justin Upton had his own RBI walk. It was 10-1. In the seventh, Shohei Ohtani hit an RBI groundout, followed by a three-run Trout homer to make it 14-1. Ohtani and Trout capped off the game with two more RBIs in the eighth to complete the 16-3 slaughter.

How do you recover from such a loss? According to the next day’s pitcher, Justin Dunn, the answer was to throw six innings of one-hit shutout baseball. The Mariners also struggled to get things going, only scoring on a solo home run by American League Rookie of the Month Kyle Lewis. The game headed to extras at 1-1, where it was swiftly ended by the bat of Tim Lopes who drove in Lewis from second to take a 2-1 lead, letting Yohan Ramirez close out the game and giving Taylor Williams his first win.

Not wanting to be shown up, Marco Gonzales had a career outing to end the series. He gave up a leadoff home run to Justin Upton in the second inning and then retired the next 21 batters. It was his second career complete game, both against the Angels en route to another 2-1 victory thanks to a clutch solo home run by Jose Marmolejos in the sixth inning to take the lead. The Mariners somehow split a four-game series against the Angels despite being outscored 21-9.

The next three days were empty of baseball due to the Oakland Athletics having a COVID-19 case in their team. The Mariners didn’t get to resume play until Sept. 4 when the Rangers came to town for four games. This would also be the debuts of Ty France and Luis Torrens who were acquired via a trade with the Padres that dealt them Austin Nola, Taylor Williams and Dan Altavilla in what people on the internet have unanimously decided was an absolute steal for the Mariners. Yusei Kikuchi took the mound for game one and pitched yet another stud outing for Seattle, allowing one run in six innings.  The Mariners put up three runs of support, thanks to a two-run double by Evan White and an RBI single by France in his first Mariner at-bat. J.P. Crawford extended their lead to 6-1 in the eighth with a three-run shot, which was much needed because Yoshi Hirano would give up two runs in the ninth before it ended.

Game two followed suit. Sheff took the mound for the first time since the 16-3 blowout and made his case as one of the best pitchers in the league, allowing two runs in seven innings of work. As is customary, Seattle only put up two runs of support and the game was tied heading into the bottom of the eighth. Jonathan Hernandez took the mound for Texas, boasting a 5-0 record so far, and had an outing to forget. Seager was hit by pitch and France singled. Marmolejos slapped an RBI single, White slapped an RBI single, and Philip Ervin drove in the third run of the inning in his Mariner debut. Up 5-2, Yohan Ramirez yielded one run in the ninth but was otherwise unscathed. The Mariners were up 2-0 in the series.

Mariners scored early the next day, with Kyle Seager going deep on Jordan Lyles in the first inning for two runs. Joey Gallo hit a home run off Dunn the next inning, and the score was 2-1 Seattle. Kyle Lewis and Leody Taveras traded solo shots in the fourth and fifth innings, making it 3-2. Shed Long hit an RBI single in the seventh and the Mariners would cruise to a 4-3 victory, giving Dunn his third win of the year, and well-earned at that. The victory set the franchise record for consecutive home wins against the Rangers at seven, with a chance to extend it the next day.

And extend it they did. Seager homered in the first, Dylan Moore homered in the second, and the Mariners drove in five more runs in the fourth. Almost immediately, it was 8-2. Marco Gonzales coasted seven innings to an inevitable 8-4 victory to give the Mariners the sweep, extend their home winning streak against the Rangers and most importantly, maintain their spot as the sole undefeated team in the month of September.

With three weeks remaining, four games against the San Francisco Giants, and being just two games back of the Houston Astros, the Mariners are more poised than ever to sneak into the playoffs. If I were a betting man I would probably stay away, but damn does it feel good to watch an exciting baseball team. This next edition will feature four games against the Giants, three against the Diamondbacks, and what is almost assuredly a double-header against the Astros.