Royals Flushed

With today's wild extra-inning victory over the Kansas City Royals in the books, the Mariners come home riding a six-game winning streak and an incredible overall record of 13-2. They have set a Major League record for most games with a home run to start a season; they lead the American League in runs scored, hits, batting average, on-base percentage, home runs, total bases, stolen bases, walks (and hit batters), and runs batted in; and under the radar, their pitching staff leads the league in saves and is second to Houston in quality starts. By all these metrics, this team is a juggernaut.

In the four-game sweep of the Royals, we saw a little bit of ... well, not everything, but a lot. Felix Hernández left the first game after just one inning having given up two runs because he was too dizzy and feverish to keep throwing the ball, yet what we've come to think of as the world's most anxiety-producing bullpen came in and threw eight solid innings of relief, Cory Gearrin's shaky inning notwithstanding. Marco Gonzales wasn't the master craftsman he was in his prior start against the Angels, but he was still very good and managed trouble (some caused by the problematic defense behind him) brilliantly. Game three would have likely given Yusei Kikuchi his first Major League victory had manager Scott Servais not inexplicably given him the quick hook after just 80 pitches only to see the lead immediately coughed up by the bullpen; yet, the M's came back to win anyway on a ninth-inning homer from one of the only guys in the lineup not excelling right now, Mitch Haniger. And today the weather got into the act, with just about every fly ball an adventure for the fielders and a number of wind-aided hits for both sides, including the ninth-inning, game-saving triple by Haniger that seemed destined for Billy Hamilton's glove but instead went off the wall and caused Hamilton to awkwardly leap at the ball and injure his knee on the outfield fence.

We saw incredible defense from Dee Gordon and awful defense from Domingo SantanaWe saw five different Mariners hit homers, including Gordon and utilityman Dylan Moore. We saw the running game from both teams, stolen bases and well-executed hit-and-runs (and a couple of busted hit-and-runs), great slides and ugly ones, smart baserunning and baserunning mistakes. We saw one of the Royals best the franchise record for hits in consecutive games, great catches in the outfield, and a manager arguing with an umpire over who-knows-what.

It was a series that made you think, just for a second, that nothing can keep the Mariners down. They are fated to win.

But tomorrow comes a reality check. The Astros are coming to town, and they want their place atop the division back. They won't get it no matter what—the M's hold a four game lead and the series is only three games—but they are intent on making a statement. This weekend will be the upstart Mariners' biggest challenge yet, moreso than the home-opening series against the defending World Champion Red Sox. Can the Mariner magic keep on keeping on? Will Houston bring Seattle back down to Earth? Will Daniel Vogelbach hit the windows on the Hit it Here Café again? This weekend, more than anything yet, will give us a clue as to whether or not these Mariners are the real deal.

Bring it on.

Mariners vs. Royals, by the numbers

  • Total runs scored: 55 (SEA 36, KC 19)
  • Home runs hit: 13 (SEA 8, KC 5)
  • Stolen bases: 9 (SEA 3, KC 6)
  • Errors committed: 3 (all Santana)
  • Quality starts: 3 (SEA 2, KC 1)
  • Pitching changes: 31 (SEA 14, KC 17)
  • Starters ERA: SEA 5.50, KC 9.00
  • Bullpen ERA: SEA 3.32, KC 6.32
  • Dee Gordon batting average difference: +87 points
  • Dee Gordon enthusiasm meter: 9 of 10 (diminished by visible concern expressed for injured opponent Billy Hamilton, which in turn increased the Dee Gordon is a Fine Human meter)

Hot Start

The M's have opened the season 11-2, and very nearly undefeated. Is this team for real, or is this just a blip before they fall back to Earth?



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