Get Ready For A Wild Six Weeks
Anyone know what this crazy, tingling sensation is? No, I don’t have some sort of communicable disease.
Yes — that’s it! This is what it feels like to me in the midst of genuine, bonafide, legitimate pennant chase as a fan of the Seattle Mariners.
Fun isn’t it?
As I write today, the Mariners, for the moment, are in possession of the second AL Wild Card playoff position. They lead by half a game over the recently dispatched Detroit Tigers. It might be a game-and-a-half lead if not for a certain umpire with a grudging attitude named Tony Randazzo, but that’s another whole other column I should probably write.
The Mariners are also just five-and-a-half games back of both the Angels and the A’s for the lead in the AL West. It’s also worth noting that they will play the A’s six more times this year and the Angels seven more times.
To say the M’s are out of the division championship race is completely and utterly ridiculous. The chase is on. The M’s are hot! And you are a fool if you aren’t watching this stretch run.
The King, Felix Hernandez, is scorching, white hot. He just set a Major League record with 16 consecutive starts in which he allowed two or fewer runs and pitched seven or more innings.
That type of performance and consistency has only been remotely achieved one time in the past 100 years.
Felix could easily finish the year with an ERA below 2.00. That hasn’t happened since some guy named Pedro Martinez was pitching.
What do you get for $240 million? Apparently, for the M’s, the answer is a legit No. 3 hitter for the first time in what seems like a very long, long time. His name is Robinson Cano.
You also get a guy who plays Gold Glove-caliber defense and kind of flicks his glove around to make really tough catches look like a walk in the park.
Kyle Seager is the Mariners All-Star 3rd Baseman. All-Star! And I mean that in every sense of the word. Seager does not get nearly enough credit for the way he plays 3rd base defensively. Perhaps it’s because it wasn’t his original position; perhaps it’s something else. Either way, this guy is on his way to a .280+, 25-homer season, in which he drives in 100 RBIs.
His batting average isn’t flashy, but the way Mike Zunino plays baseball takes me back to a different era in baseball. Zunino is old school. He’ll take the pitch in the back, is as tough as nails and plays the game the right way.
Zunino manages a pitching staff and plays the position defensively as good as anyone I have ever seen. He’s also going to wind up as the first catcher in Seattle history to hit 20 homers in a season.
Despite the great success for the M’s, they still have some holes that have the potential to cause them problems during the stretch drive.
Chris Denorfia was acquired in a deadline deal with the Padres to provide some punch to the outfield against lefty hurlers. So far, Denorfia has disappointed in that role.
He’s batting .250 (8-for-32), which is okay I suppose, but three of those hits were in one blowout game against the Tigers. Take just that one game away from him, and he’s now batting .185 (5-27). That’s not helping.
Still, it’s early in his M’s tenure. Maybe the one good game will get Denorfia going. The M’s sure could use that right-handed punch off the bench.
I really can’t figure out Dustin Ackley. He really struggled in the first three months of the season then batted a whopping .365 in July.
August rolls around and his numbers are falling faster than lead balloon. Ackley is batting .213 in August, although he does have three of his eight homers this month.
Still, Ackley needs to put it back in gear– quickly.
Brandon Maurer‘s numbers are a bit difficult to decipher. You have to separate his numbers as a starter from his numbers as a reliever.
Having said that, in July Maurer was darn near un-hittable. He posted a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings spanning 10 appearances. That’s getting it done, and then some.
In August something has happened. Maurer is really struggling. In five appearances, he has an ERA of 6.34 while opponents have enjoyed a .364 batting average against him.
The league clearly made an adjustment to Maurer and now it’s up to Maurer to adjust back.
There’s certainly more I could talk about. Logan Morrison is having a nice August. Iwakuma, Young and Paxton are all exciting to watch pitch. Pretty much the entire bullpen has been wreaking havoc with hitters all season.
Get out there and watch this run Seattle. It’s worth it!