Your beard is weird, bro.
At the beginning of past seasons the Mariners have had a fan base that was prepared to abandon ship if the team was in tough shape within a month or two. This season, especially after some high-profile, and locally controversial moves intended to add power to the Mariners lineup, the fan base was excited, but they were smiling with one foot hanging off the plank.
After an expected less-than-split in their opening road trip, the team looked poised to be over .500 at some point this week with the hapless Houston Astros in town. On the contrary, the Astros lost the first game to the Astros and then got trounced, giving up 24 runs in the following two games.
Rightfully so, that fan base was hanging from the over-metaphor’d plank by a fingernail. The team lost a game that Felix Hernandez started, and while they won another very good start made by Hisashi Iwakuma they squandered a Joe Saunders gem. Going into Sunday with a volatile (to put it nicely) Brandon Maurer on the hill, the team seemed unlikely to beat the Rangers.
Maurer was phenomenal, missing 12 bats in 97 pitches, and gave up only two earned runs, three runs total, in six innings. The third run, however, came in when Maurer missed his spot by more than the full width of home plate, and Jesus Montero barely got a piece of it before it ricocheted to the third base side of home plate, allowing Craig Gentry to score from third base. In a sequence prior to this instance Maurer threw what appeared to be strike three to Lance Berkman, a fastball with hand-side run that appeared to get a piece of the inside corner. Instead, Berkman walked, and that kept the inning alive.
Excluding Raul Ibanez‘s home run, the Mariners scored was done at the hands of some of their youngsters exclusively. Justin Smoak hit a double for his first extra base hit of the season, and later Kyle Seager hit another double that scored Smoak. Seager would double again later, and score on a Jesus Montero single. Montero advanced to second on a throw to home, and then Dustin Ackley hit a single up the middle that scored Montero for what would end up being the game-winning run in the sixth inning.
Injuries are mounting
Michael Saunders ran into a wall, Michael Morse was hit by a ball, Franklin Gutierrez has an apparent groin or hamstring injury, and Stephen Pryor left Sunday’s game with a lat strain. You’d prefer not to have your pitchers suffer any injuries in their torso, but then again, there probably isn’t a good place for an injury.
The Mariners have temporarily replaced Saunders, and supplemented Gutierrez with Endy Chavez. Chavez is familiar to Mariners fans as he’s been with the organization in the past, and if you’ll recall, amid perhaps the absolute most intense portion of the shitstorm that would chase Yuniesky Betancourt, he broke his leg on a play where he and Betancourt collided. Chavez probably won’t steal nearly as many bases, but he remains a capable fielder.
Morse should be back sometime this week after suffering a broken bone in his pinky finger.
Iwakuma outdueled Yu Darvish
Luckily for baseball fans in general, we’ve gotten over the idea of two like-nationality pitchers facing off. I’m certainly not saying that the lack of marketing around Iwakuma and Darvish both being Japanese represents some sort of social evolution, rather, I’m just happy that we don’t have to hear any more annoying shit about things that have very little to do with baseball. Iwakuma missed 14 bats in only 90 pitches, striking out six in 6.2 innings pitched, walking only one, and giving up only one run. Darvish, for his part, missed more bats, struck out more batters, also walked only one, and gave up the same amount of hits, but he strung those hits together in the first inning and the Rangers didn’t score enough runs to bail him out.
Not enough bump with Felix on the bump
My seats on Thursday. Not pictures is a guy who asked us to stop being rowdy (not that rowdy) because his daughter (probably 25-30 years old) was getting offended.
The Mariners drew less than 23,000 fans in Felix Hernandez’s first start at home of this season. The team was set to give away 25,000 King’s Court shirts, and if you’re good at math you’ll realize that there were more than 2,000 shirts left when it was all said and done. I was at the game, and walked in about 15 minutes before first pitch (after an impromptu drinking contest at Elysian Fields) sure that I’d have missed out on the free shirt, but to my surprise they had many left. I have a new shirt. That’s worth a bullet point.
The Mariners are 6-8, and injured. A lot of people have made it known that they don’t think that the Mariners, or their manager, or general manager can “afford to start out slow.” Well, they’ve tested the limits of what is an unquantifiable, intangible budget of slow starting.
Matthias, he of the biblical name and sinful life, will take care of the Tigers series, and while I said that the Mariners may be looking to trade for Rick Porcello (which would be a great fit) in this series, his scheduled start will be skipped in favor of Doug Fister, but the team already traded for Aaron Harang.