Seafair Weekend, sunny skies and four games with the team Seattle really wanted to “beat up” highlighted the series against the LA Angels these past few days. Luckily for the Mariners this time around, superstar Mike Trout was sidelined, and they didn’t have to face Shohei Ohtani on the bump.
Since the brawl occurred in Anaheim on 6/26, the Angels had lost 21 of 30 games, and the Mariners had won 22 of 32 games going into this four-game showdown in front of a packed T-Mobile Park. But for some odd reason, those feisty Angels have had Seattle’s number this year. After the 2-2 split these past four games, the Angels still lead the head-to-head season series 7-5.
After taking two of three from New York, Seattle was looking to ride the momentum into Friday’s game, despite no Julio or Haniger. The M’s wasted one of Robbie Ray’s best starts of the season in Friday night’s contest. He went seven-strong, striking out ten, giving up one earned run. Seattle showed some late game heroics in the ninth, tying the game up at three apiece thanks to Adam Frazier and Ty France. Unfortunately, LA capitalized in the top of the tenth, where Seattle failed to score the automatic runner from second base. The Angles took game one by a score of 4-3.
Man was it good to have Seattle’s Ty France back in this series. He, and George Kirby were the two reasons Seattle was able to bounce back and take game two (first of the double header) on Saturday afternoon. France’s go-ahead, two-run shot in the home third was the difference maker. Kirby, still on a bit of a leash pitch-count wise, was flawless. He went six innings of six-hit ball, striking out eight, giving up one run on a single in the second. The bullpen trifecta of Matt Festa, Andres Munoz and Erik Swanson were able to shut it down for Seattle to take it 2-1.
Approximately three hours after the conclusion of Saturday’s afternoon face off, was the beginning of game three. This doubleheader, of course, was due to the minorly-postponed season start…and it was all Angels in the nightcap.
Chris Flexen wasn’t able to fully flex for the first time in quite a while. He gave up five earned runs over six innings. Mariner-killer (for some odd reason) David Fletcher was 2-4 with three RBIs, including a two-run shot in the sixth to make it a 5-1 game at the time. Luis Torrens (another surprise) was the lone reason Seattle wasn’t shut out. LA took the third game by a score of 7-1.
With Seafair Weekend coming to a close, and the Blue Angels soaring over Seattle, the M’s had to salvage the split, and that is exactly what they did on Sunday afternoon.
Jesse Winker got his much-deserved revenge on the LA Angels in a big way. His third career grand slam in the home third barely stayed fair down the right field line. This made it a 5-0 M’s advantage, and LA was never able to put up a fight. Despite Mitch Haniger’s return, utility-man Sam Haggerty continues to succeed in the starting lineup (and deserves a starting spot going forward). After going 2-4 Sunday, he has raised his average to .314. Seattle took the finale by a score of 6-3.
Starting tomorrow night, the M’s welcome in their friends from the Bronx for the second time in less than a week. The New York Yankees, who just lost the final two to Seattle, and got swept by St. Louis, have lost five in a row. They come in angry, looking to get back at the M’s beginning Monday night.
All three games will feature brilliant starting-pitching matchups. The first two of three are identical matchups to the series in the Bronx last Monday-Wednesday. Tomorrow night is a faceoff between two starters with ten wins this year, Seattle’s Logan Gilbert, and NYY’s Jameson Taillon. Tuesday night’s game is Gerrit Cole up against trade deadline acquisition and All-Star, Luis Castillo. The midday finale is 2021 AL CY Young winner Robbie Ray versus former-Mariner, and All-Star Nestor Cortes.
With Mitch Haniger finally back, and Julio Rodriguez, Diego Castillo, and Ken Giles close, things are certainly looking up for the M’s who are tied with Tampa Bay for the second AL Wild Card position. They look to continue their success against the Yankees and then things get a whole lot easier. According to Tankathon, Seattle has the easiest strength of schedule in all of baseball (.453) to close out the 2022 season, with NYY factored in.