Seattle Mariners: What We Learned Last Night In Houston
By Adam Levi
The Mariners added to their one-run games total in yesterday’s newest close encounter. The Mariners have now played a league best fifty-seven one run games (including last night). Fortunately, this time, the M’s edged out the Astros 4-3 in an eleven inning game they almost gave away (twice).
The Mariners fans are happy to see their team get a win anyway possible, but has it needed to be so suspenseful, so often? Last night, after taking a two run lead into the ninth, Edwin Diaz blew the save. Tied 3-3, Robinson Cano put the Mariners back on top with his second home run. More on this later.
The teams now fifty-seven one-run games is now the most in the league. Two one-run games more than the San Fransisco Giants. The M’s record for one-run games is a mediocre 29-28. But, the win wasn’t all about close games. Here are three more things we learned in the important 4-3 victory.
Cano Sets A New Home Run Mark
We’ve all known that Robinson Cano is good, but could this go down as his best season ever? Well, maybe not, but, after last night, it is without a doubt his best year for home runs. In Safeco Field no less, which is rated in the lower half of the best hitters parks, Cano has now set career home run numbers.
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Cano only needed one homer to surpass his previous career best, but he decided to double-down, hitting two.
The first came in the third inning. It was a no-doubter that landed in the Astros bullpen. It extended the Mariners lead to 2-0. His thirty-fourth home run broke his personal-best of thrity-three back in 2012.
The second came in the eleventh inning. And, this dinger was even more of a no-doubter. It was a high soaring fly-ball that landed a few rows deep in the second tier seats. It traveled so far, that the girl who eventually found the ball had to search half way up the top bleachers. It also gave the Mariners the 4-3 lead they would eventually win by.
In thirty-two games at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Cano has hit seven home runs. It is fair to say that there are probably more coming in the next two match-ups.
Cruz Can Steal?
Nelson Cruz now has a stolen base percentage of one hundred percent. As much as he would love that number to reflect the reality of his base stealing ability, I don’t think he could even argue that he is a master of speed on the base paths.
Last night, immediately following the Cano go-ahead home run, Cruz got to first and then got ready to take off. On the first pitch to Kyle Seager, Cruz took a huge lead at first and then stormed over to second. While he was credited with the steal -his first of the year on his first attempt- it could’ve been called defensive indifference.
Sure, technically to qualify for DI, the game has to be out of reach by one of the teams. Enough so that the runner(s) on the base paths don’t affect the outcome of the game if they were to eventually score. But the fact that Astros pitcher, Luke Gregson and catcher, Jason Castro didn’t think twice about not picking him off, the steal shouldn’t really qualify.
While it was surprising to see Cruz attempt a steal, he’s got more experience with base theft than one would imagine. Cruz may have only attempted to steal six bases in the past two years with the Mariners, but he also stole a few with the Orioles. But, he really took advantage of his youth by stealing a good amount of bases way back with the Rangers.
In total, Cruz has stolen seventy three bases in one hundred and three attempts. However, since the days in Texas where he was taking fifteen-plus bags a year back in 09′-10′, he has never passed ten since. I wouldn’t expect more stealing from Cruz, but congrats to Nelly for his first of this year.
The Race Just Got Wilder
We all knew the Mariners needed to win a lot this week to have a shot at the Wild Card race. Sitting 2.5 games back at the beginning of the week, created a challenging mathematical possibility to make the playoffs with just seven games.
However, on the first day of the week, everything went the Mariners way. The Blue Jays and Tigers both lost. This meant the Mariners moved up a half game on two of their three competitors. The Orioles -the third enemy (and current Wild Card spot holder)- had they day off.
Even better than moving closer to the playoffs, the Mariners could get more good news in the next three days. The Orioles and the Blue Jays play an epic three game set starting today. If either team sweeps, it would help the Mariners tremendously.
Next: The Week That Could Change History
Of course, the Tigers need to lose and the M’s need to win as well, but at least something looks like it will help the Mariners playoff chances. But, this is all speculation and a dash of hope. All the Mariners need to focus on in the last six games is winning.