Mariners Staying Alive

Now down to three games remaining in the season the Seattle Mariners won their eighty-fifth game of the year Thursday night at Safeco Field against the Oakland A’s 3-2.

The Baltimore Orioles beat Toronto Blue Jays Thursday night where they are in a tie for the first wild card team in the American League. Both teams have eighty-seven wins going into the weekend. The Mariners really do need to win the final three games to make the playoffs however both of these teams have to lose at least two of the three games they have left. The odds are against the Mariners however they have made the playoff race interesting at the very least. They will have to continue fighting to make it in.

Thursday night they were leading 2-1 going into the eighth inning when Mike Zunino who has been struggling at the plate hit a home run to make it 3-1. The top of the ninth inning closer Edwin Diaz made it interesting struggling on the mound lately gave up a run to make it 3-2 with the tying run on third base when he struck out the final two batters. The success of Diaz over the final three games may be the telling story how the Mariners will do. This year is the only time he has been a reliever and he did not even start there at the beginning of the season at double A. General Manager Jerry Dipoto in his wisdom figured the fastest track for Diaz to make it to the major leagues was as a reliever and he was correct. He was called up to the Mariners in June after just a couple months in the bullpen. The Mariners made him the closer after Steve Cishek was struggling to save games. Now Cishek is one of the guys setting up for Diaz who now has eighteen saves. Diaz struggle primarily has been with his slider. Actually the major problem is when to pitch it versus throwing the fast ball. The slider is most effective when the batter thinks he is going to throw the fast ball along with the location of it. Although he can be dominating with the fastball and slider he may have to throw a third pitch as well. It could be a change up or a curve ball. Whatever the case Diaz should be the Mariner’s closer for years ahead. He has the attitude of a great closer where he doesn’t give in and his experience as a starter helps when he does get into any trouble.

What will be interesting to us all over the next three games besides winning and making it into the playoffs is who will be playing the starring role and the role players. Anyway let’s keep it alive. Go M’s.

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Mariners Win Final Road Game

The Seattle Mariners are still in the hunt to get a spot in the playoffs as a wild card though the chances are still against them. The final road game of the season the Mariners needed badly to stay in contention was won by them in a large margin though not as easy as the 12-4 score looks over the Houston Astros.

The Mariners got off on the right foot in the first inning when Robinson Cano hit his thirty-sixth game of the season on Wednesday after hitting two of them on Tuesday night. Aoki and Seth Smith were both on base when Cano hit his home run to make it 3-0. The Mariners scored three more in the second and another in the third before Springer hit a home run to make it 7-1. In the fifth inning James Paxton last of the night he gave up two more runs to make it 7-3. Nick Vincent replaced Paxton in the sixth inning however he could not get anyone out and gave up a home run to catcher Gattis to make it an interesting game 7-4. He allowed two more runners to get on base by the Astros still with no one out. He was replaced by Evan Scribner who held the Astros in bay and got throw the sixth without giving up a hit. Scribner pitched the seventh inning as well after Leonys Martin and Mike Zunino each drove in a run at the top of the seventh to make it 9-4. He was followed by Wilhelmsen who gave up one hit on eleven pitches in the eighth inning and Altavilla who finished the Astros off in the ninth with no hits on seven pitches. Kyle Seager finished the scoring off in the eighth with a three run homer to make the final score 12-4.

After having a terrible time trying to beat the Astros all season the Mariners beat them two out of three games in Houston. The Astros won the Tuesday night’s game 8-4 in a game the Mariners originally had a 4-2 lead when they had defensive problems and let the game get out of hand. Hopefully it is not the game that put the Mariners in the grave not making the playoffs.

The Mariners start a four game series Thursday night against the Oakland A’s to finish off the regular season in Seattle. The Mariners who have handled the A’s pretty well all season including two sweeps in Oakland can hopefully do the same to end it. The Mariners will need to continue having good starting pitching, help from the bullpen and the offense scoring enough runs. The most important thing though is that they have good defense throughout the series. All though they have played some good defense it also has cost them a few games over the season as well like on Tuesday night. Although the A’s are not a good team it will still be best that the Mariners play their A game in all four games. Wednesday was James Paxton last start of the regular season however he is getting prepared as though he will pitch if the Mariners make it into the playoffs. Felix Hernandez will need to be back in his old form on Sunday especially if the Mariners win these first three games. The Mariners may not know whether they make the playoffs until after Sunday’s game. This will depend on the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers who are both ahead of the Mariners for the second wild card spot. The Toronto Blue Jays pretty well have the first wild card spot in hand. Go M’s.

Sixth Inning Mariner’s Downfall

Going into the Sixth Inning the Mariners were leading the Houston Astros 4-2 on Tuesday night. It looked like the Mariners were on their way to another victory. I thought it would be nice if they could score a couple more runs to have a safe lead. Felix struggled giving up two runs in the first inning however his pitch count was low and should be able to get through the seventh inning at least if not the eighth inning. Then something happened that caused this to go the wrong way and give the victory to the Astros. With one out and two runners on base a ball was hit straight to Marte who was close to the second base bag and Robinson was there to make the routine double play. Marte had other thoughts and decided to make the play all by himself. Like in other situations in the season he was erratic. He stepped on second and then threw the ball past first base for an error. The inning should have been over and the score still at 4-2. Felix would than go on and pitch the seventh inning. The runner on third scored to make it 4-3. OK the Mariners have been in a lot of one run games so this will be another one of those. It would be nice if they could score another run or two however that is not what happened. Next thing I knew the Astros scored six runs in the sixth inning to make it 8-4 and the Mariners onto a loss they could not afford. In fact this loss may have cost them a place in the playoffs. The Mariners now have five games remaining and are two games behind the Baltimore Orioles. Those same Orioles had lost that day to the Toronto Blue Jays who look like the team to be the first wild card. The win for the Mariners which should have happened would have put them one game behind the Orioles.

During the season the Mariners have lost several games in a similar fashion to this game however they could not really afford a loss here. They now have to win all five remaining games and hope the Orioles lose three games. The season that could have been or better said should have been the Mariners lose out on the playoffs; a disappointment for all of us over a play that should have been routine.

Even before this play occurred I was wondering why Marte was playing so close to second base with a right handed batter up to bat. In fact the whole game it looked like he was playing that way. Was he told by the coaches to do so or he decided on his own? If Marte had been playing at standard shortstop position the first hit would have likely been an out and no runs would have scored in the sixth inning. A lot of media and fans alike have wondered about Marte whether he is the right man playing shortstop. Even some were thinking that Shawn O’Malley should be playing shortstop. I was giving him the benefit however now I believe like most O’Malley should be at short and what is the future for Marte at short and the Mariners. Just like catcher and centerfield the shortstop position is one of three key positions on the field. You must have someone who can play a consistent game and make the routine plays. He messed up a play that was nothing more than routine. He didn’t have to dive for the ball all he had to do is flip to Cano who would then throw it onto first base. Obviously we see that Marte has talent. He can run and he has hit good a lot of the season except recently but his defense is not solid at all. The question now is shortstop the best position for him. Maybe he would be better at second base. If that is the case than the Mariners will need to trade him during the off-season because we know that Robinson Cano will be the second baseman for several more years. During the trading deadline Dipoto tried to get a veteran shortstop from the Cincinnati Reds however the time runs out. I am sure he will get back together with the Reds during the off-season to see if they are still interested in making a trade. Since the Reds are in a rebuilding mode I would not be surprised if they include Marte in the trade. So the Mariners should move on at shortstop. Well they have five games remaining in the season so let’s see if they can win these games and by some miracle get into the playoffs. Go M’s.

Cano Homers Lead Mariners to Victory

Coming out of slump against the Minnesota Twins Robinson Cano decided go to the front of the class hitting two home runs with the second one in the 11th inning to break the tie to lead the Mariners over the Astros in Houston 4-3. The Mariners had 3-1 lead including Cano’s first home run and an error by the Astros however Edwin Diaz was unable to close out the game in the ninth inning giving up two runs on four hits. At least he did not give up the winning run that was on base. It looked like he was throwing his slider too much that wasn’t working Monday night. He should have thrown more of his high heat against those Astros. He will learn from this experience.

This game the first of the three game series was very important for the Mariners too win. This gives them more confidence and keeps them in the race for the playoffs though with six games remaining will be hard to come by. The Mariners need to win these six games to really have any chance. One loss to either the Astros or the A’s most likely keeps them out. The Astros are still in the race as well but the Mariners could eliminate them with a victory Tuesday night.

The Mariners had twelve hits the game and left at least ten players on base. One key hit could have allowed the Mariners to win in regulation time. Iwakuma pitched a very good six innings in the game. The other relievers besides Diaz did a fine job. This will be another key besides the starters going as many as they can to win the games. The offense though needs to its part not to put so much pressure on the pitching. The Mariners need some hitting out of Kyle Seager who has been in a slump for most of September. This is especially true since Nelson Cruz who had a great series against Minnesota has a sore wrist. Monday night you could see that Cruz was having difficulty swinging. Seager needs to join in so Cano doesn’t have to do the work himself.

Tuesday night Felix Hernandez goes to the mound against the Astros. The Mariners need another outstanding game out of Felix like in his last outing against Toronto in Seattle when he left saying “not in my house”. Jesus Sucre who has been the catcher most of the time for Felix since being called up from Tacoma is expected to be behind the plate. He has been on a six game hitting streak himself including a home run in Minnesota on Sunday. If he continues to hit well I would not be surprised to see him more behind the plate since Mike Zunino has been struggling hitting as of late. Not sure whether we will see much of Chris Iannetta in the last six games since he struggled defensively.

Other players like Leonys Martin who has been struggling at the plate lately as well need to come through for the Mariners as well. We need to see Aoki and Heredia whoever is starting in left field get on base to set the table for Cano, Cruz and Seager. It would be nice to see Seth Smith and Franklin Gutierrez start hitting once again along with Adam Lind and Dae-Ho Lee. We need all the guys contributing especially with runners on base. Look forward to these last six games. Go M’s.

 

Cruz and Sucre Help Mariners to Victory

In another crucial game the Seattle Mariners won another close game this time on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins winning 4-3. The offense was all done by Nelson Cruz who hit two home runs despite having a sore wrist and unlikely hero in Jesus Sucre who hit his first home run of the season. Sucre who has been hot lately having a six game hitting streak also hit a double in the game as well. Right now it looks like Sucre is the second string catcher behind Mike Zunino. Iannetta who had an error in his last start that cost the Mariners eight runs and a win likely is the third string catcher now after being the starting catcher for more than half of the season. It would not surprise me if Iannetta isn’t back next year and that Sucre will continue being the backup as long as he can stay healthy. I am sure that general manager Jerry Dipoto will be looking around to see who may be available as a backup catcher as well. Sucre never has been known for his hitting and has history of being banged up however he is a very good defensive catcher. Felix Hernandez is very comfortable having Sucre being his catcher so I would not be surprised if he is on Felix next outing.

Nelson Cruz having a sore wrist the Mariners will be watching and the medical staff be sure to keep it in as good condition as possible. Since the games are still meaningful the Mariners will continue having Cruz in the lineup as the designated hitter however if the Mariners or the other team is ahead by a good margin they will take him out of the lineup. Right now Cruz has a hot bat so the Mariners will try to keep him in the lineup as much as possible especially being still in the playoff run.

The Mariners now go into Houston to take on the Astros a team that they have had problems with this season. Hopefully the Mariners can change that in this series. The Mariners will need to take two out of the three games if not all three. Iwakuma will be going for the Mariners Monday night against Collin McHugh. It is a tall order since McHugh is 4-0 with an era of 1.08 against the Mariners this season however I have to say the odds should be in the Mariners favor. McHugh has struggled this season against other ball clubs and it is time for him to do so with the Mariners. Being the first game of the series it is crucial that the Mariners win this game. This game comes in like another close one so Iwakuma will have to be at his best and the Mariners offense score a few runs. Whether they make the playoffs or not the Mariners are making it interesting and all the fans should be tuned in. It would be great to see big crowds at Safeco this coming weekend even if they are out of the race by then. Go M’s.

Another Close Loss

The Seattle Mariners lost another one run game this time to the Twins in Minnesota. After scoring ten runs Friday night against the twins the Mariners were only able to score two runs and losing the game 3-2. The two runs the Mariners scored was on a home run by Nelson Cruz and the Mariners were only able to get five hits. Even Cruz thought they should have scored more runs in the game. I know it doesn’t happen this way but it would have been nice if the Mariners could have saved two or three runs from Friday night to go onto Saturday’s game.

If the Mariners have a must win it is Sunday against the Twins. Right now the Mariners could be out of the playoff pitcher however this game is the most important one of the season until tomorrow and so on and so on until they are mathematically eliminated. The Mariners show the talent enough that they can score runs but there are times like Saturday night that they don’t score runs. The crazy part it is against pitchers they should be able to hit while on other occasions they are able to hit and beat top pitchers in the league. In fact twice they beat Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox and Cole Hamels of the Texas Rangers in two straight outings one in Seattle and the other in Arlington, Texas. Sort of blows the mind to think about it. Sounds like the Mariner players have a hard time concentrating hitting against some pitchers.

The Mariners lose Sunday’s game the playoffs are likely over for them especially going into Houston and playing the Astros who have owned them all season. We know that they can win eight games in a row because they did so recently and it looks like that is what they likely will have to do to make the playoffs. Of course the eight games are what the Mariners have remaining in the season. Whatever does happen we do know that the 2016 Mariner team has been more exciting than some of the teams in the past fifteen years since they last were in the playoffs regardless of the ups and downs in the season.

Had the Mariners not have injuries to the starting rotation and had a poor month of June and into July they would have already made the playoffs. We can’t talk about what might have been but at least they showed that they would not give up after having that bad period of time. The Mariners starting rotation got back into order and has done a fine job in the last month or so however I still believe they should add another pitcher to the rotation for 2017 primarily for depth and the possibility of injuries once again. Iwakuma will be a year older and whether Paxton and Walker will deal with injuries once again is anyone’s guess. We hope that Felix can pitch up to his old form like he did in his last outing and Ariel Maranda can continue to improve but these are all questions that can’t be answered so this is the reason for more depth especially get a number one or two starter. We know the short comings of this team and I am sure that general manager Jerry Dipoto will address them. If I had to put a report card on this season right now I would give the Mariners a solid B and if they do make the playoffs it would go up to an A for sure. I am sure very few us would have expected the Mariners to have the season they have this year after last season but it has been a good one. What makes it promising to is how the minor league teams did this year as well after being considered the worst in baseball they turned around and all made the playoffs. Not sure how many true prospects the Mariners have however they do give us some hope in that area too. The do have some players that can be used as trade bait as well. When the season ends I will let you know who I think will not be back next season. In the meantime go M’s.

Good Start to Road Trip

The Seattle Mariners got on the right foot on their final road trip of the season beating the Minnesota Twins 10-1 Friday night. We do hope that the Mariners will play more games on the road when the season ends because that means that they made the playoffs.

Nelson Cruz hit a home run and a double to drive in four games while Robinson Cano had four hits and Kyle Seager had three. Also Mike Zunino hit a double to drive in a couple runs as well.

Besides the great hitting the Mariners got outstanding pitching from James Paxton who pitched seven innings while striking out nine batters and giving up one run; Paxton is really showing us as long as he can stay healthy he could become among the elite pitchers in the American League. The key is staying healthy which he has had problems doing since coming up to the Seattle Mariners.

Although I would like the Mariners to go out and acquire another starting pitcher for next year the starting rotation right now looks for coming season with Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Iwakuma, TaiJuan Walker and Ariel Miranda. They do look like a good group for the Mariners however Felix, Paxton and Walker all struggled with injuries in 2015 and Iwakuma in previous years. Also we don’t know how much longer that Iwakuma can be healthy so the Mariners need so depth in the starting rotation. Getting at least one starting pitcher the Mariners could move Miranda to the bullpen and then be available when one of the other guys goes down. This could be said of Nathan Karns who looked effective out of the bullpen most of the time until he got hurt.

The Mariners two positions in the infield still look solid going into 2017 with Robinson Cano at second base and Kyle Seager at third base both having great seasons. We just hope that Seager can start off strong next April instead of always having a slow start. The question is Ketel Marte still the Mariners shortstop of the future or will Dipoto go out shopping for another shortstop with experience. Whether the Mariners are going to make the playoffs in the next week the shortstop position could be one of their weak spots going into next year. Another infield position is first base. Adam Lind will be a free agent and likely will not be back. Although he played good defense and hit some memorable home runs his batting average was lower than expected and under the circumstances he still may be offered a good contract from another team especially since the free agent group is weak. The Mariners have Daniel Vogelbach vying for being the left handed hitting first base that the Mariners got in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. Another question will they try to retain Dae-Ho Lee to be the right handed first baseman or go in another direction. Lee had a good first half of the season and became somewhat of a folk hero but faltered in the second half. I am sure the Mariners will look for a younger and experienced first baseman to compliment Vogelbach. Someone who may be able to hit right handed pitchers as well if Vogelbach falters.

In the outfield it looks like Aoki and Seth Smith both could be back unless being offered in a trade. They would both start again in platoon situation against right handed pitching. In regards to right handed hitting outfielder it is hard to know whether the Mariners plan to retain Franklin Gutierrez or not. He has some value in the hitting department however he lacks speed and his defense is not where it was in the past. Heredia who started the season after signing with the Mariners out of Cuba was assigned to double A and then played some for Tacoma as well before coming up to the Mariners could be one of the platoon right handed hitters. Right now the other platoon player is in question though utility player Shawn O’Malley could be put in that position as well and that all depends if the Mariners plan to go out and trade for a regular outfielder who could play every day. The Mariners have Ben Gamel who they acquired from the Yankees who shows that he has good defensive skills along with speed however is he ready to play fulltime in the major leagues. We will see what happens for the outfield as well.

When it comes to the bullpen the only ones to seem to return will be closer Edwin Diaz along with former closer Steve Cishek in a setup role and Nick Vincent who has done well while being healthy. Also rookie Dan Altavilla looks like he could be used in the bullpen as well. So that leaves three other pitchers in the bullpen. I am sure that the Mariners will try to go out and get an experienced left handed pitching specialist. If they have to they can fall back on Vidal Nuno or David Rollins. Evan Scribner coming back in September after being out all season looks like a good choice for the bullpen as well if he can stay healthy; so that leaves one bullpen spot left whether it is with current relievers Tom Wilhelmsen, Drew Storen and Arquimedes Caminero or going and getting another one.

So for now the importance is for the Mariners to finish the season off and we hope make the playoffs as a wild card team. Since it looks like Felix Hernandez will pitch the final game of the season the Mariners may look at James Paxton to pitch in the one game that the winner continues in the playoffs. Go M’s.