Today’s game meant nothing to the Mariners by way of contention. It is a mathematical certainty that the M’s will not finish above .500, or even above their record from last year (75-87). Even those most dedicated fans are struggling to watch every game with the same fervor and enthusiasm that abounded in April (I’ll admit I am one of those people struggling).
But tonight was fun because the Mariners got to play spoiler. Defeating the Royals 4-0, the Mariners all but booted them from the AL Wild Card race. Now at 83-74, it would be a pipe dream for those other boys in blue (our blue is better) to make it to the postseason. Schadenfreude is a sick and twisted thing, but boy does it feel satisfying!
I think the biggest thing to take out of tonight’s game for the Mariners would be James Paxton. Part of that vaunted “Big Three”, Paxton had a mediocre season in the minor leagues. Nothing flashy, no brilliance, just run-of-the-mill pitching.
But maybe the stars DO come out when the lights are brightest (that metaphor makes no logical sense because stars are hard to see when it’s bright, but we are talking about baseball and not astrology). Since being added to the expanded Mariners roster this September, Paxton has compiled a 3-0 record with a 1.5 ERA. And I thought Walker had looked good.
In tonight’s game Paxton threw 7 innings of 4-hit baseball. But that isn’t even what impressed me most– he struck out ten, while walking no one. For a youngster whose main focus should be command and pitch location, both were on point tonight. With Paxton and Walker causing a bit of a tremble this September, it looks like next year’s bottom three slots in the rotation will create quite the competition.
Other nice things about tonight’s game:
- Justin Smoak mashed a 3-run homer to left today. He is actually-kinda-sorta starting to look like an everyday first baseman for the Mariners.
- Kyle Seager is on a tough stretch right now… not only has his batting average dipped to .263, but his defense- which has never been an issue- has been faulty over recent weeks. Let’s hope he rights the ship again in 2013.
- Abraham Almonte looks like a major league baseball player. He should make next seasons outfield situation a little more competitive and interesting.
- Brad Miller– aka Crazy Legs aka Sergio Millar (why I don’t know)– is healthy and playing again, which is always a welcomed sight. Especially because he runs with so much gusto.
- Kendrys Morales is a gamer. Who better be playing baseball in Seattle next season.
The Mariners are still treading water above the 90-loss marker… though it is unlikely they avoid that signpost this season. However, a lot of youth that has surfaced over the second half of this season give glimpses to a potentially bright and exciting future in Seattle.
But in the end it is always great to just stick it to another team and play the spoiler. Why does it feel so right to enjoy the frowning faces of other teams’ players after their season will end as eventfully as ours?