Mariners actually win a series
Tom Murphy watches his home run leave the yard at Angel Stadium
June 11, 2019
In a callback to happier times, the Mariners won a series last weekend. In taking two out of three from the Angels on their home turf in Anaheim, Seattle brought its win-loss record to 28-41—still rather pathetic but hey, a win's a win.
How'd they do it? Homers, what else? On Friday night, behind a resurgent Marco Gonzales, the Mariners scored six runs, five on longballs. In Saturday's loss, a brutal 12-3 drubbing, two of Seattle's runs were from solo homers. Sunday afternoon's comfortable 9-3 win included six bombs to account for eight runs. So no change, really—the M's are still reliant on hitting the ball out of the park, unable to do much else offensively. To date this year, the M's have not won a single game without hitting a home run, and of the victories featuring only one longball, just one has come since April 26th.
Being dependent on the homer makes for a lot of failure, but it worked out for two of three here. Domingo Santana hit two on Friday, along with Tom Murphy's 3-run shot. Sunday saw two more from Murphy, two from Edwin Encarnación (including his 400th career home run), one from Kyle Seager, and one from Daniel Vogelbach. Otherwise, there were very few scoring threats and plenty of strikeouts with runners aboard.
On the mound, Gonzales regained some of his old form and pitched well on Friday, though he was worked pretty hard; plenty of foul balls led to him reaching 100+ on his pitch count in only the sixth inning despite allowing just two hits. Yusei Kikuchi, however, did not rebound from his string of poor starts—he was tagged for seven runs (six earned) on Saturday for his third consecutive loss and third straight start that lasted just 31⁄3 innings. This after he was skipped in his last turn in the rotation with the hope that he just needed a little rest as he continues to adjust to the every-fifth-day Major League pitching rotation after so may years on the once-a-week schedule in Japan; that didn't appear to be a factor as the Angels battered him solidly despite the extra days off. Is he tipping pitches? Distracted? Something else? Sunday, however, saw another solid outing from Wade LeBlanc, and this time Scott Servais' choice to again employ the dubious "opener" strategy didn't doom him; Frenchy threw six innings in relief of Austin Adams' one inning and held the Halos to two runs while striking out eight. The relief corps followed suit, doing well in the wins and poorly in Saturday's loss, with the club's latest members of bullpen tryout camp, Tayler Scott and Jesse Biddle, serving up five runs between them in 42⁄3. Neither of them seems to be a keeper.
The M's played with fire for the entire series by carrying nine relievers and just two bench players, a practice that's bound to bite them hard if they continue it. Their customary three-man bench is already sadly lacking, and cutting that to two just invites catastrophe; even without the problem of having to replace an injured player with someone unfamiliar with the required defensive position, by having such a shallow bench you remove nearly every potential in-game move other than relief pitching, and if there was ever a team that could use defensive replacements in the late innings of close games, it's this one (looking at you, Domingo).
Next up, the Central Division-leading Minnesota Twins for three as the M's touch down in Minneapolis. The Twins outscored the M's 40-18 when they visited Seattle in May, so buckle up.
Mariners vs. Angels, by the numbers
- Total runs scored: 35 (SEA 18, LAA 17)
- Home runs hit: 17 (SEA 11, LAA 6)
- Bases stolen/attempts: 1/2 (SEA 1 - Seager)
- Errors committed: 4 (SEA 2 - Moore, Williamson, LAA 2)
- Quality starts: 0
- Pitching changes: 17 (SEA 9, LAA 8)
- Starters ERA: 6.33 (SEA 7.20, LAA 5.40)
- Bullpen ERA: 5.48 (SEA 4.50, LAA 6.46)
- Runners left on base: 43 (SEA 20, LAA 23)