The Mariners edged out a crucial 3-2 win in the opener of their closing series of the season. Overall, the moments were more positive than negative, but when the Oakland Athletics hit back, they hit hard. Fortunately, the Mariners used the loud support of the nearly 20,000 fans in attendance to motivate them to never surrender the lead.
Scott Servais described the win best when he spoke with reporters after the game:
"… We live another day. Really gutsy performance from all our guys…"
He’s right, it was gutsy. After allowing the Athletics to tie the game 1-1 in the sixth with a home run, they regained the lead, only to see it begin to slip away again. Thanks to the maturity and composure of the incredible youngster that is, Edwin Diaz, he cleaned up his own mess with runners on base and sent the A’s packing.
But, this crucial home opener had so much more to offer. From spectacular defense to great pitching and big hitting, here are three things we learned last night in Seattle.
Miranda Was Miraculous
It’s hard to believe that Miranada has performed so well after being injected into the Major League system. His numbers in Cuba were respectable after 2010. His average ERA over the last three seasons in Cuba were just around 4.00. But, the Mariners saw potential, and this month, we have all gotten to see that potential on the biggest stage.
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His season ERA may say 3.88 for 2016, but since September 1st, he’s brought that way down. His ERA for this month will finish at 2.62 after his last outing of the regular season last night. What he did last night continued to be in line with his five previous September starts.
Yesterday, Miranda threw six strikeouts over 5.1 IP, and only giving up four hits. Yes, they were big hits -two doubles,a single and a home run- but, only the long bomb did damage. It helped that he asserted his dominance early, striking out four of the first six batters he faced.
If he had gone two more outs he would’ve recorded his fourth quality start this month. Furthermore, in half of his starts this month, Miranda either allowed no runs or one run. Now that’s a man who’s in control of his game.
Zunino’s Bomb Adds Insurance
Mike Zunino has been ridiculed for the past few seasons for not producing enough if he isn’t hitting home runs. For example, from August 22nd-September 7th, Zunino didn’t hit a home run or much of anything else. Consequently, his average fell from .280 to .216.
Before his home run last night, Zunino had been on another homer slump for eleven games. In that span, Zunino’s average fell .021 points. But, since he did hit a home run last night, he raised the hopes of Mariners fans once more that he can produce enough power to be part of the team.
It was a vitally important shot that gave the team life late in the game, and the lead. It was a soaring fly ball that landed past the Athletics dugout. Everyone’s voice in the Mariners radio and TV booths began to crack with excitement as the balled sailed through the air and over the wall.
It was one of Zunino’s biggest home runs of his career and gave the Mariners an insurance run, which ended up being necessary to defeating the A’s 3-2.
Wild Weekend To Determine Mariners Fate
The Orioles beat the Blue Jays last night and the Tigers game was postponed. This all plays out very well for the Mariners.
The Mariners had the good fortune of watching the Orioles and Blue Jays beat each other up the past four days. Last night they saw the Orioles dominant their division rivals 4-0. This O’s win put the them on level ground with the Jays in the Wild Card race.
Both the Orioles and Blue Jays have three games left. The Orioles play the Yankees to finish out the year and the Blue Jays play the Red Sox. This is more good news, as both teams have had problems with their opponents all year.
For the Mariners, who are within two games of the AL East teams with three games left, this could give them a chance at either Wild Card spot. To boot, the Tigers must play three games in Atlanta versus the Braves before heading home to make up their rained out match against the AL Central winning Indians.
The Mariners need to have a strong output over the weekend with Athletics at Safeco Field. Winning out could mean making the playoffs, but with scheduling on their side, it may not be the only way they could end their fourteen year post season drought.