Mariners beat the Guardians 3-1 today.
As far as I'm concerned, Andres Munoz became the Mariners' closer today.
I haven't yet consulted with the BJSOBM (Bucky Jacobsen Scale of Big Moments), but Munoz's strikeout of Cleveland superstar Jose Ramirez today with two on and two outs in the eighth is, for my money, one the biggest outs of the year. Hell, maybe the biggest.
Not only did Munoz escape an inherited jam, he battled one of the best hitters in baseball and ended him with as nasty a slider as Ramirez will ever see. The Seattle flamethrower then went back out in the ninth and retired Cleveland hitters 1-2-3 for the save... a Win... a BIG Win (The BJSOBM permitting).
Despite the throngs that doubted it possible, the Mariners' bullpen has repeated its success from a year ago, Diary. In truth, this pen is better, and not just statiscally. It's superior physically and mentally. Yankees manager Aaron Boone didn't have to give a tip of the cap to Los Bomberos after losing a fourth game in six tries to Seattle, but he did.
They throw flames, Diary. And Munoz's heat could melt Harrenhal.
Swanson has been outstanding. Castillo has achieved what once eluded him--consistency. Brash is nasty. And Paul Sewald has once again been worth his weight in gold. But the best Mariners' reliever right now is the man Aaron Goldsmith aptly nicknamed, The Firebreather. But as of today, Diary, I now refer to him as The Dragon.
In recent weeks, Munoz has pitched more than an inning in games, he's gone back-to-back days, he's made Shohei Ohtani look foolish, he's not allowed an earned run since July, he's struck out 23 hitters in his last 10.1 innings pitched & he's earned Scott Servais' trust to pitch when the pressure is at its apex.
A man blessed with closer's stuff has now gained the closer's mentality, Diary. And although the Mariners may never commit to a single-closer philosophy this year, or ever again, when the lights are their brightest it's Andres Munoz that I want to see take the stage. When the moment looks its bleakest, it's The Dragon, I trust, to save us all.