In a season of little success for the Mariners so far, many positive things have been left undone. Perhaps the most prominent of those things is a series sweep. While Seattle’s latest triumph over Oakland didn’t check that goal off the list, it got the Mariners’ walk off home run monkey off of their respective backs.
The way they picked up walk off big fly number one was pretty sensational for a few reasons. Firstly, it came off of A’s closer Grant Balfour. The guy is 18-for-18 on saves this season and brought in a 1.17 ERA to Sunday’s game. He had allowed four runs all season in over 30 innings, and had a WHIP just over 1.00. Needless to say, scoring the winning run off of Balfour in a tight situation is quite a feat.
The buildup to the home run was also quite ridiculous. Mike Zunino reached with one out. He reached after he chased a second ball in the dirt and John Jaso couldn’t keep it in front of him. Zunino still would’ve been out though, if not for Jaso rushing the throw and missing Brandon Moss. Then Michael Saunders put together a rare solid at bat, working the count from 0-1 to 3-1 and ripping a 3-2 pitch through the hole on the right side for a base hit.
But perhaps the most ludicrous part of the bottom of the tenth inning stemmed from Balfour and the Oakland staff’s handling of Kendrys Morales. Morales pinch hit for Brendan Ryan, which was a great move by Wedge, since all the M’s needed was a fly ball to score Zunino from third. Oakland had a chance to walk Morales and face slap/groundball hitter Endy Chavez, but for some reason they opted not to do so. That would have been fine if Balfour had pitched Morales carefully. Instead, he threw a first pitch fastball right over the heart of the plate, and Kendrys parked it for a three-run walk off.
It marked a nice win for the Mariners, who took their second series from Oakland in the last two weeks. Raul Ibanez provided his own bit of ridiculousness by hitting home runs in his first two at bats of the game. Jeremy Bonderman did just enough on the hill and Danny Farquhar looked good out of the ‘pen even though Brandon Moss took him deep. All in all, another strong win in the books for the Mariners. Unfortunately, it’s probably too little, too late.