Winners of six in a row, and a record of 31-13 since the first day of July, there is no other team in baseball that is hotter than the Seattle Mariners. A wild, back-and-forth series win against Kansas City was followed by a trip to the always-daunting Minute Maid Park in Houston to face the defending champs. A shutout win in game one, a 10-3 victory in game two and a 7-6 triumph in the finale resulted in the M’s first sweep in Houston since August 2018. The series record against the Astros ended 8-1 in Seattle’s favor as there was one last stint on the roadie before returning home… Chicago.
No, not the Cubbies, but the White Sox, who have completely fell out of any relevancy despite the high hopes in the beginning of the season. With a record of 49-75, the Sox were coming off three-straight series losses leading into the series with the red-hot Mariners.
Quick notes ahead of the series, regarding the ever-so-surging Julio Rodriguez: His 17 hits in four games tied a record held by Milt Stock since 1925. He became the first player in MLB history with 14 hits and five stolen bases in a 4-game span. Since August 14th, Julio had an average of .568, with an OPS of 1.417, cranking two home runs and driving in 12 RBIs, to go along with scoring seven runs. He was voted Chevrolet AL Player of the week, not-so-shockingly.
Though he was given the day off in the opener on Monday in the Windy City, the rest of Rodriguez’s team had no intention of slowing down the momentum.
J.P. Crawford returned from his concussion, sliding right back into the leadoff spot. This game was virtually over for the White Sox after the very first half inning. Chicago’s starter Touki Toussaint had absolutely no control, allowing Seattle to get many baserunners in the first. A walk, walk, single, wild pitch, and double by the Big Dumper gave Seattle a 3-0 lead without an out recorded by Toussaint. An error by veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal and an RBI single by Josh Rojas led to a five-run first.
Unfortunately for the Sox, they had to face M’s ace, Luis Castillo. Seattle needed La Piedra to go as long as he could Monday due to the Mariners using pretty much their entire bullpen in Sunday’s sweeping win over the Astros. The 2023 All-Star was fantastic Monday: 7 IP, 5 H, ER, 9 K.
Top five, and it was a dumper followed by a teo-bomb. Back-to-back jacks by Mariners’ thumpers Cal Raleigh and Teoscar Hernandez gave Seattle a six-run advantage. Two more RBIs by Teo later in the game and Cal’s second HR of the game as a mercy-rule should have been in effect. Raleigh finished with six RBIs, as Seattle took the series opener handily by a score of 14-2.
It was Bryan Woo’s first start since August 3rd, where Cade Marlowe hit a game-winning grand slam in the ninth inning against the Angels in Los Angeles. Since then, he had been on the shelf with right forearm inflammation. He matched up against Mike Clevinger, who had previously gone seven shutout innings against Cleveland in his last start almost a week ago.
Julio was scratched minutes before Tuesday’s game with stomach issues.
Woo looked to have been shaking off the dust in his first inning. He walked leadoff batter Andrew Benintendi on four pitches, and allowed two base hits and a run, as the Sox got on the board first. He then promptly figured it out and became strong again throughout the remainder of his condensed start.
Top two and the Mariners backed Woo with a few runs. Mike Ford and J.P. Crawford muscled RBI singles to give Seattle the lead against Clevinger.
Two innings of scoreless ball on both sides as the M’s were back up to bat in the fourth. With two down, Ford worked a walk on a wonderful AB. This set up the nine hitter, Josh Rojas, who punished a first pitch, middle-in fastball over the right field wall. It was his second home run of the season, as it gave Seattle a three-run lead. Over the last ten games, Rojas (post-game Tues) is hitting .353 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs. He has solidified his spot at second for the foreseeable future.
Woo’s day was done after four complete. He allowed just the one run on three hits, striking out three. It was a parade of bullpen pitchers that followed the former Cal Poly Mustang. Taylor Saucedo was first to receive the call, then Trent Thornton, Isaiah Campbell, Justin Topa, Gabe Speier, and Andres Munoz all followed.
The Mariners got some insurance in the sixth. A ground ball to the shortstop by Ty France was lost in the stadium lights, allowing Rojas to scamper home. Then Cal Raleigh brought home J.P. on a sac fly to right.
Chicago got two back (almost four in total – Luis Robert Jr. missed a two-run home run by inches), but the bullpen following Woo was spectacular. Seattle won their eighth straight ballgame, this time by a score of 6-3.
Here’s Paul Sewald post-game after the Arizona Diamondbacks beat Texas for the second-straight night. Seems like the well-loved former Mariner left a piece of his heart in the PNW:
With the Rangers’ loss Tuesday, the Mariners sat just one (… ONE) game back of the division.
Get-away day Wednesday to wrap up the series and the road trip. George Kirby got the nod, aiming for a sweep of the lowly White Sox who fired their Executive VP and General Manager following the thumping loss on Monday.
Tim Anderson, who was playing in his first game since being suspended after squaring up with Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Guardians on August 5th, knocked in the first run of the game in the home third.
For the first time in a long time, Seattle’s bats were dormant throughout most of the game. Through six innings, the Mariners had just one hit. Trayce Thompson, brother of former-WSU standout Klay Thompson, made Kirby exit after his two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth inning. Kirby finished after 5.2 innings, striking out nine, but allowing the three earned runs. Trent Thornton took over in relief.
It was White Sox-killer Josh Rojas who finally gave the Mariners the life they so badly needed in the seventh. On a 3-1 pitch, he bunted home Jose Caballero to get Seattle on the board. And all of a sudden, it was top nine.
Rojas again reached on a single, and pinch-hitter Cal Raleigh slapped a single the other way. J.P. followed with a well-deserved walk, and it was up to the big, bad man Julio Rodriguez with the bases loaded and one down. Down 0-2, he was plunked by 100 on the forearm, scoring a run, luckily avoiding injury.
Now it was up to Eugenio Suarez with the M’s down one. He laced a singled up the gut off of a Gregory Santos middle-middle slider, giving the M’s their first lead in the ballgame. It was 4-3 Seattle heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Andres Munoz, who only threw to one batter on Tuesday, came in to shut it down for the M’s, and earn the sweep. Unfortunately, he gave up a leadoff double and the Sox were in business. After getting Thompson to K, Andrew Benintendi stood tall as a pinch hitter against Munoz. Despite getting jammed, he put one into right, as White Sox right fielder Oscar Colas slid in safely, barely, to tie it at four. Munoz got the next two White Sox batters to strikeout.
Though hot as the sun, Seattle still can’t figure out extras. The inability to produce with a runner at second an no outs is at this point, shocking. That was again the case Wednesday as they couldn’t push across a run, giving the Sox the chance to win it with just one run in the bottom of the tenth.
They did such that, but in self-inflicting, bizarre fashion on Seattle’s part. Cal attempted to pick off Tim Anderson at second following a pitch from Justin Topa, and successfully got TA7 in a run down. Unfortunately, J.P.’s throw to Geno at third hit the former All-Star in the helmet, getting away, and allowing a run to score, ending the ballgame. A game where Seattle left 14 on base went Chicago’s way. 5-4 was the final in extras.
A tough end to a magnificent road stint. 8-2 could have easily been 10-0. But now following the series win against the Sox, the Mariners return home. After a day off on Thursday, it will be the Royals again, but this time inside of T-Mobile Park. The last series against was about as action-packed, back-and-forth as it gets. They won Wednesday but lost the series in Oakland. Kansas City’s losses since facing Seattle have all been by one or two runs. They are a team well out of contention, but still certainly pack a punch.
Pitching probables for KC @ SEA:
- Friday Aug 25th, 7:10 PM PT: RHP Brady Singer (8-9, 5.04 ERA) vs. RHP Bryce Miller (8-4, 3.78 ERA)
- Saturday Aug 26th, 1:10 PM PT: RHP Jordan Lyles (3-14, 6.20 ERA) vs. RHP Logan Gilbert (11-5, 3.77 ERA)
- Sunday Aug 27th, 1:10 PM PT: TBD vs. RHP Luis Castillo (10-7, 3.15 ERA)
American League West Standings as of Wednesday afternoon:
- 1.Texas Rangers (72-54)
- 2.Houston Astros (72-55), 0.5 GB, +1.0 WCGB
- 3.Seattle Mariners (71-56), 1.5 GB, -- WCGB
- 4.Los Angeles Angels (61-65), 11.0 GB, 9.5 WCGB
- 5.Oakland Athletics (36-91), -304 Run Differential
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