Mariners steal Astros series, bout with Yankees looms large

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 19: Ben Gamel
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 19: Ben Gamel /

The Mariners just saw their short. six-game post-all star break road trip go about as well as it could’ve. Sure they kind of laid an egg against Brad Peacock on Tuesday, but rebounded in a big way on Wednesday with James Paxton.

It would not have been the end of the world for the Mariners to drop the third game of the series to the Astros. And quite honestly, I don’t think anyone would’ve blamed them for dropping two of three to one of the best teams in the major leagues.

Yet James Paxton continued his 2017 string of dominance over the Astros with a seven-inning one-run performance, and the Mariners snagged the win to pull back to .500. This year, Big Maple has posted in three starts an ERA of 0.45, a .171 BAA, and a 20:4 K to BB ratio. To put that in some perspective, the MLB average against the Astros is an ERA of 5.50 and a .291 BAA.

The bullpen continued their solid stretch, 22.1 innings with only 4 runs given up. That equates to an ERA of 1.61. As a unit, that is phenomenal. Also one positive, none of the runs surrendered led to the loss on Tuesday, so the bullpen is knowing their situations and pitching up when they need to.

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But, all that is now in the past. The Mariners are 48-48 with a run differential of +1. They’re basically the definition of .500. That doesn’t immediately strike you as great, but when you remember the waters this team had to tread in order to make it out of the first half alive, you can’t ask for much more than this with 66 games to play.

The Minnesota Twins toppled the New York Yankees Wednesday night, and that leaves them 0.5 GB in the Wild Card race and the Mariners 1.5 back.

The Mariners get the Yankees for four games this weekend, and the timing couldn’t be…

The timing couldn’t be better, as the Mariners are carrying a lot of momentum into a home series. The Mariners are 27-22 at home on the year. That includes a stretch of eight games where they went winless before the all star break.

The timing couldn’t be worse, in the sense that Aaron Judge and the Yankees are struggling at the moment, but you can’t count on that to continue happening. Those darned Bronx Bombers could easily snap out of their funk in a big way during their time in Seattle.

The timing couldn’t be more critical, the worst the Mariners can do in my opinion is go 2-2, break even, no ground lost. If they can pull three of the four, though, they would have a half game edge over the Yankees and, depending on Minnesota’s play, could own a Wild Card spot with a record of 51-49.

Next: The Mariners refused to lose, and it's time to get excited

So, as the team heads home for an eleven-day, ten-game stand, they need these first four games to go as well as possible in order to keep this momentum going and head towards the last part of the season in the driver’s seat.

Oh, and just for kicks and giggles, here’s a fun tweet to get you hyped for this weekend: