Let me preface this post by saying that the Mariners are 11 games under .500, so individual games like this don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. This season is probably over. But watching last night’s 9-2 Mariners victory over the Rangers, this sure looks like a team who can somehow turn their season around.
Let’s start with the most impressive part. I’m not even talking about the home runs. I’m talking about Joe Saunders pitching well enough to win in Arlington. You may recall last time Safeco Joe pitched in the house Nolan built (on April 19), he gave up seven runs in 4.2 innings and the M’s lost 7-0. He’s made two other starts against Texas this season at home, and the M’s lost both of those as well. So for Saunders to even approach beating the Rangers is significant.
He didn’t dominate by any stretch of the imagination, but he scattered ten hits, limited damage to two runs (one earned) and used his defense for double plays. He also struck out five in his 6.2 innings of work, which is pretty good for him. The play most representative of the kind of start it was for Joe was the last batter of the fourth inning. Elvis Andrus was up with the bases loaded and two outs, and hit a grounder back up the box. Saunders made a great play to field his position and end the inning with a flip to first. Saunders worked out of tough spots and set the Mariners up for victory.
That opened the door for the offense to have a truly impressive night. No one was more impressive than Kendrys Morales, who slugged his tenth and eleventh home runs of 2013 on nearly identical pitches from Justin Grimm in the first and fifth innings. He also drove in two with a single later on in the game, notching a dominant three-hit, six RBI night at the dish. Morales entered the game in a bit of a slump, and it was nice to see him break out of it so violently.
Other offensive highlights included Raul Ibanez’s 20th home run, a bounceback RBI double from Dustin Ackley, and Mike Zunino joining the RBI party with a single of his own to score the ninth run. Quick analysis for each. Raul is a beast and continues to defy Father Time at 41. He could legitimately hit 35 dingers if he keeps this up. Great to see Dustin come up with a hit with RISP. The M’s desperately need him to hit. Zunino will take time, but it’s great to see him coming through again, albeit in a low leverage situation.
One other thing I want to mention is that Brad Miller started four double plays last night. Three of them he didn’t even need a second baseman for. He’s a defense stalwart and even chipped in with a single last night. Why did the Mariners ever have Brendan Ryan again?