After losing the final two games against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Seattle headed west to the “Big A”. They found success in late-inning chaos in the first two games, and an offensive explosion in the finale, leading to their first three-game sweep of the Angels in Anaheim since 2016.
This time of the year for playoff contenders always seems to be fun, yet nerve wracking at the same time. If you are a fellow scoreboard watcher/frequent standings analyzer like me, this was a good mid-week span to be a Mariners fan. After sweeping the Angels, Seattle has now claimed sole possession of the first wild card spot, with a 1.5 game lead over both the Blue Jays and the Rays, thanks to Baltimore’s recent success over Toronto and a walk-off grand slam by NYY’s Josh Donaldson to take down Tampa Bay last night. The M’s get a day off today as they head to the Bay to face baseball’s second worst squad, the Oakland Athletics for three before heading home to face Washington, baseball’s worst, for two. Oakland and Washington’s combined overall wins (82) is only six more than Houston’s win total (76) so far this season.
Manager Scott Servais’ trademarked “Chaos Ball” was in full effect Monday night. What started as a phenomenal pitching matchup, lead to late-game craziness, in favor of Seattle. Luis Castillo, who had faced Gerrit Cole twice in his prior two starts as a Mariner, faced last year’s MVP, Shohei Ohtani Monday night.
Castillo and Ohtani had extremely similar lines before they were pulled after the game was at a 2-2 tie. Both starters went six innings, giving up two earned runs, walking one and each giving up a solo home run. Castillo narrowly edged Ohtani in the strikeout department, punching out nine, one more than Ohtani’s eight.
Seattle’s Jesse Winker got the scoring going in the first half inning, with a solo shot off of Shohei. LAA’s Luis Rengifo followed up with one of his own, where OFs Julio Rodriguez and Mitch Haniger crashed into each other at the wall in right center field, and the ball popped out of Rodriguez’s glove and over the yellow line.
As both teams added one more each off of the two aces’, the score was 2-2 in the top half of the ninth, where all hell broke loose for the Angels. After Sam Haggerty reached on a single, he promptly advanced to second on a throwing error by LAA’s Catcher, Max Stassi. He then proceeded to steal third, Carlos Santana reached on a walk and then Julio ripped a line drive to Rengifo at second and couldn’t come up with the play. Haggerty got himself into a run down and soon figured out that no one was covering home and scored. This made it 3-2 M’s.
As Dylan Moore (pinch running for Santana) reached third on the rundown fiasco, he then scored after Ty France grounded a soft ground ball to third, and Stassi lost the ball while attempting to tag Moore at the plate. Another ground out scored Julio, and then JP added a base hit which scored France. Paul Sewald was able to close it out with no fuss, striking out two of the three batters he faced in a 1-2-3 inning. Seattle took game one, 6-2.
Tuesday’s game featured Seattle’s Robbie Ray and LAA’s Jose Suarez. Another strange game was upon us as Suarez had a perfecto rolling through five until Adam Frazier (infield base hit) decided to keep “King” Felix Hernandez’s last perfect game solidified as the last, almost ten years ago to the day.
Seattle was able to add three in the sixth thanks to a bases-loaded, two-RBI single by Ty France and a sacrifice fly by Jesse Winker.
It was 3-2 M’s heading into the ninth, where Seattle was looking to add a little insurance. The got that and then some thanks to a two-RBI triple by Adam Frazier, RBI single by Sam Haggerty and a frozen rope, two-run shot by Julio Rodriguez. Like Monday’s game, the ninth was good to Seattle, and they took the middle game, 8-2.
Wednesday’s finale showcased rookies George Kirby and Touki Toussaint as the two starters. Seattle got the scoring going in the third, partly thanks to starter Logan Gilbert, who was doing an in-game interview with the YouTube commentators. As sunflower seeds and water rained down on Gilbert during his interview (thanks to JP Crawford and Ty France), the M’s put up four in the third. Mitch Haniger continued to produce since his return from injury, where he roped a base hit, which scored Sam Haggerty. Crawford worked a bases-loaded walk and Carlos Santana went off-field for a two-RBI base hit.
After taking a commanding lead of 4-0 in the third, Seattle never stopped offensively. Home runs by Jesse Winker (man does he love to “beat up” the Angels), Eugenio Suarez and two bombs by Cal “Big Dumper” Raleigh lead the M’s to their third consecutive win, despite LAA’s Shohei Ohtani going 4-5 with a HR and a triple. The final was 11-7 in favor of Seattle.
With a 1.5 game Wild Card lead over Tampa Bay and Toronto, Seattle will look to continue their winning ways over Oakland beginning on Friday. ESPN’s MLB power rankings have Seattle at the ten spot after their sweep of the Angels. Toronto is at nine, and Tampa Bay is 11th.
Here is a look at the updated AL Wild Card standings as of Thursday morning:
- 1. Seattle Mariners (65-54), +1.5 GB
- 2. Toronto Blue Jays (62-54), -- GB
- 2. Tampa Bay Rays (62-54), -- GB
- Minnesota Twins (61-55), 1.0 GB
- Baltimore Orioles (61-56), 1.5 GB
- Chicago White Sox (61-57), 2.0 GB
- Boston Red Sox (59-59), 4.0 GB