Running the Gauntlet

Courtesy Justin Rowland via Unsplash

Mariner baseball is continuing, and that’s the closest I can get to making the season look positive. Last Thursday, the Mariners finished off a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, or maybe it would be better said that the Angels finished off a series against us. Shohei Ohtani kicked off the scoring in the top of the first against Taijuan Walker to put the Halos up 1-0. In the top of the fourth they struck again, scoring three on a single, hit-by-pitch and sacrifice fly. Down 4-0, Daniel Vogelbach smacked a home run off Dylan Bundy to add a run to the board, but that was the most Seattle could muster in the 6-1 loss. In fact, the Mariners couldn’t even force Bundy off the mount as he managed a complete game. This was not the worst loss for them this week.

All the Mariners could do is try to move on as the white-hot Colorado Rockies came to town. Mariners drew first blood on a Mallex Smith RBI single in the bottom of the second, but it was quickly answered by two runs for the Rockies in the third. Down 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Austin Nola hit a two-run bomb to close the gap, but it was not meant to be. A pair of home runs by Charlie Blackmon and Daniel Murphy in the eighth inning allowed the Rockies to break open the game and win 8-4.

Nick Margevicius took the mound on Aug. 9, unaware that it didn’t matter how good he was that night. The Mariners bats fell stone cold as the Rockies put away each of the first five innings without allowing a hit. J.P. Crawford broke the streak in the sixth, but that was the only hit they would manage all game. It was a 5-0 finish, but that just doesn’t get across how awful of a game it was. Things were looking bleak.

Justin Sheffield took the mound the next day for the series finale, and immediately got more support thanks to a Dylan Moore home run in the first. That was all there was to say through the first six innings. Sheffield finally got out of the game after six scoreless and holding onto a 2-0 lead. Seattle pushed three more across in the seventh inning to extend their lead to 5-0. Dan Altavilla came on in relief in the eighth and tried his best to throw away the game but the Mariners survived with a 5-3 lead. That was the ballgame and the Mariners managed to avoid the sweep by Colorado.

Seattle boarded the plane and left for Texas to play their first ever games in the Rangers’ new stadium, and boy did they leave an impact. Dylan Moore tied the game 1-1 in the third on an RBI single. Texas had grabbed a 2-1 lead heading into the fifth, when rookie sensation Kyle Lewis took the game into his own hands and hit a three-run home run. They weren’t done. The bottom of the sixth rolled around, and the bases were loaded for Kyle Seager. Moore had already pushed a run across that inning, making it 4-2. The second of the pitch came in, and Seager yanked it into the bleachers for the first Mariner grand slam of the year. Moore would tack on one more in the seventh and Seattle would win 10-2.

The Rangers came to play for game two, and tacked on four runs against Marco Gonzales before the Mariners had a chance. Seattle pushed two across in the fifth but that was it. The Rangers took it 4-2 heading into the final game on Aug. 12. Seattle made Jordan Lyles suffer in the second inning and scored four thanks to home runs by Nola and Daniel Vogelbach. Taijuan Walker had pitched six scoreless and it was looking good until the eighth inning rolled around. The score was already narrowed to 4-2 but reliever Erik Swanson wasn’t done. After recording the first out, he allowed Derek Dietrich to single and Elvis Andrus to double. Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jeff Mathis singled and Shin-Soo Choo hit a sacrifice fly. It was all tied at four with two outs and two on. Kiner-Falefa was hit by a pitch to load the bases once more and Swanson was pulled for Taylor Williams. Almost immediately, he threw a wild pitch to officially blow the lead. If that wasn’t enough, Willie Calhoun singled to score two more. Nick Solak flew out to end the inning but it was too late. The Rangers got their final three outs and the Mariners took the 7-4 loss.

Fortunately, the Mariners have a breather coming up in the form of a day off. Their troubles are far from over as a dangerous seven-game stretch against the Astros and the Dodgers looms in the distance. The odds are stacked against them, but the odds have been stacked against the Mariners for the last 20 years, so it’s just more of the same. Maybe it’s time for an underdog story.