== A long, strange trip ends 6-1 ==
It started with one game in the Bronx (a makeup of a rainout).
Then an odd, quick, night-game/day-game two-game set in Atlanta.
Then a day off.
Then a four-game series in St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Goofy Dome, consisting of one night game followed by three consecutive day games.
And at the end, the Mariners ended up as Kings of the Road, with a 6-1 record despite an ongoing mix-and-match lineup.
The only loss came at the hands of an unusual renaissance performance from our old buddy Erik Bedard. Other than that, the M’s used their trip to open up a 1-1/2 game lead in the race for the second Wild Card. As so:
|LA Angels||35||28||.556||–||19-13||16-15||300||264||+36||Won 4||5-5|
|NY Yankees||31||31||.500||2.5||13-16||18-15||249||280||-31||Lost 2||3-7|
|Chicago Sox||32||33||.492||3||18-14||14-19||290||307||-17||Won 1||4-6|
|Kansas City||31||32||.492||3||16-16||15-16||244||259||-15||Won 2||6-4|
On offense, the team got a boost from some unlikely older guys:
- Cole Gillespie, who’s 29, but is deemed to be in his “age-30” season, got seven hits while appearing in six of the seven games. He’s been boosted by a fortunate BABIP that’s likely to come down, but if he can maintain his low strikeout rate there’s no reason why he can’t be a valuable role player.
- Willie Bloomquist. Yes, Wee Willie himself. He had six hits and two walks for a .444 OBP in five of the seven games. We told you at the start of the year he was not a bad pickup as a role player spotted against LHP, and, sure enough, there he is with a .708 OPS in 44 plate appearances vs. LHP this year. Team as a whole: .636. (We just didn’t understand the two-year commitment.)
And, somehow, Robinson Cano is carrying the team on his back with a sub-.100 ISO. Ichrio did it, but we certainly weren’t expecting Cano to do it that way.
On the mound:
- Of course, Epic Felix — 2 starts, 23 strikeouts, 1 walk. He was even unlucky on balls in play (.414 BABIP), as if it mattered.
- Erasmo Ramirez survived Monday afternoon. He walked five, but had enough working to induce 11 swinging strikes in 4.2 IP. Five of the whiffs came on his changeup, which he also used for seven called strikes. He didn’t have perfect command of it, but he wasn’t getting burned by it either (one single, one double off the change, and then two singles off the fastball).
- Bullpen! Here’s what the pen did on the road trip (in alphabetical order):
Yes,the Barkeep gave up the only run given up by the bullpen on the entire road trip.
And, yes, we were touting Leone long before it was cool, but we weren’t really expecting him to be the team’s near-MVP.
- Monday’s hyper-detailed baseball-reference.com boxscore here.
And we got so caught up in analyzing the road trip, that Taijuan Walker was relegated to near-afterthought.
He got the start for Tacoma: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
The 2 ER were both on solo homers. One in the 1st and one in the 2nd. Walker was touched only for a lone single in his final three frames.
He threw 77 pitches, so presumably he’s “stretched out.” Either Walker or Ramirez will get the MLB start next time around.
Despite the decent outing from e-RAM, our money is on Walker.
- Mariners affiliate Monday scoreboard here.
- After Walker left down 2-0, the Rainiers rallied to a 2-2 tie that wasn’t broken until Ty Kelly went deep in the top of the 12th (his 8th). After which, Brandon Maurer pitched a scoreless inning for the save.
- Jackson lost late, but saw the return of our man Ji-Man Choi from his suspension. Choi just keeps hitting: 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.
- High Desert also lost, despite four homers. One of those was the 13th from D.J. Peterson. He had just two in April, but 11 so far in May and June. The Travis Witherspoon hit two (his 5th and 6th), and Brock Hebert got his third.
- Clinton also went down narrowly, but Austin Wilson snagged his second triple.
And here’s the song: