The new alignment structure in Major League Baseball, where interleague games are played on nearly every day of the season, was bound to cause some scheduling oddities. This week marked the first time the Mariners felt the strain of those changes.
Seattle split with the NL Central’s Pittsburgh Pirates in a pair of games played at 4:07 pm PT Tuesday evening and 9:35 am PT Wednesday morning. Besides the fact the players likely slept last night, they essentially played a doubleheader in between days off Monday and Thursday. While the games proved an odd sandwich of battles, here’s a few things the Mariners taught the casual observer over the course of less than 24 hours.
The Mariners aren’t built to win in the National League
The nine-hole is already a throwaway spot in the order for the team with Robert Andino/Brendan Ryan combining for around .150. Add in the pitcher spot instead of a useful designated hitter position, and that’s two throwaways. Unsurprisingly, the only time these spots produced hits in the series was when Raul Ibanez had an RBI double in game one while pinch hitting. Also unsurprisingly, the Mariners only put up three runs on eight hits in the two games.
The King stay the King
Shoutout to “The Wire” for that one, but Felix Hernandez truly pitched his rear end off today. He battled back from surrendering a first-inning run to allow just four hits over his final seven innings of work. A spectacular Felix was the only way the Mariners were coming out of Pittsburgh with a win, and he delivered, improving to 5-2 with a 1.53 ERA on the year. The game marked Felix’s fourth consecutive victory.
Montero shines when Felix pitches
The 2013 season has not treated Jesus Montero nicely, but he has shined in spots. In today’s win, he made two huge plays to win the game for the Mariners. First, he hit the game-winning home run in the seventh inning off of A.J. Burnett, who pitched extremely well in defeat. Montero also picked off Startling Marte in a huge spot to end the eighth inning. It was perhaps his best performance of the season, with the possible exception of April 28’s 3-2 win over the Angels, when Montero hit a big tying home run in the sixth inning. The pitcher that day? Felix Hernandez. The Mariners are 3-0 this season when Montero homers.
The Mariners are off Thursday before Hisashi Iwakuma takes the mound Friday night at Safeco against Oakland.