M's preview the future with solid interleague series win

Prior to the Mariners' series win against the low-hanging fruit known as the Baltimore Orioles last weekend, the club had gone 7-11 in the month of June. Taking three of four from the awful Orioles may have given the M's a morale and confidence boost, because they just won a more challenging series, taking two of three from the contending Milwaukee Brewers for their first Interleague wins of the year.

The Milwaukee series, played on the road with National League rules, gave us a glimpse of what may be in store next season. All three games were solidly played, with performances from leadoff man Mallex Smith and No. 2 batter J.P. Crawford that showed the kind of top-of-the-lineup dynamic Seattle hasn't seen in a very, very long time—not just speed, but on-base and extra-base skills to go with it, making for exciting situations on the basepaths. Smith and Crawford were 9-for-28 in the series, including three doubles and three triples. Daniel Vogelbach and Omar Narváez, two more pieces for the future M's, had key hits as well.

Another good sign was the quality of the relief pitching. Not even the "opener gambit" could doom Seattle pitching in this series: The Seattle bullpen—counting "opener" Matt Carasiti and not counting "headliner" Wade LeBlanc on Wednesday—pitched ten shutout innings, allowing just one hit in the three games. The mound corps as a whole was impressive, with Thursday's start by Mike Leake being the low point; Leake's six innings weren't terrible, but saw four Milwaukee runs cross the plate, enough for the Brewers to take their one win. Marco Gonzales only made it through five innings on Tuesday, weighed down by extra batters faced due to a Kyle Seager error and a high pitch count leading to fatigue in the fifth, but got the victory and allowed just two earned runs, walking none. LeBlanc also went five in relief of Carasiti, and also limited Milwaukee to two earned runs. Relievers Austin Adams and Matt Festa added to their claim to spots on next year's team with two excellent outings each. The Mariners held Milwaukee's intimidating offense—including defending NL MVP Christian Yelich, who managed just two singles over the three contests—to a .220 average, with only Ryan Braun really handling the Seattle pitchers (6-for-13, two doubles).

The M's took good advantage of sloppy defense by the other team, for once, too—Milwaukee was the club booting the ball all over the yard this time, with six errors committed leading to three unearned Seattle runs.

The Mariners hope to keep the good mojo flowing as they arrive in Houston for a three-game set against the currently slumping Astros, who are 2-9 over their last 11 games, including consecutive double-digit defeats at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mariners vs. Brewers, by the numbers

  • Total runs scored: 23 (SEA 14, MIL 9)
  • Home runs hit: 5 (SEA 1, MIL 4)
  • Bases stolen/attempts: 2/3 (SEA 2 - Gordon, Moore)
  • Errors committed: 8 (SEA 2 - Seager, Crawford; MIL 6)
  • Quality starts: 0
  • Pitching changes: 19 (SEA 9, MIL 10)
  • Starters ERA: 5.40 (SEA 4.50, MIL 7.94)
  • Bullpen ERA: 1.52 (SEA 1.29, MIL 1.72)
  • Runners left on base: 45 (SEA 25, MIL 20)
  • J.P. Crawford batting average increase: 16 points
  • Pitchers batting: 0-for-9 (SEA 0/5, 3 K, 2 BB - LeBlanc, Leake; MIL 0/4, 3 K)