Mariners fall to Royals as bullpen management woes continue

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 03: Starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo
KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 03: Starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo /

The Mariners blew two leads on Thursday night, and it was rough in the right field seats. I mean other than Seager’s early-game homer landing 30 feet away, and watching Danny Valencia’s “controversial” homer clank the foul pole, it was a miserable existence. Plus Kauffman Stadium charges $5.75 for small Dip N’ Dots, so I couldn’t even drown my sorrows.

The M’s got off to a hot start with the Seager bomb and I think I was the only one in the place who cheered. I was not the only one who cheered, however, when Jarrod Dyson came to the plate in his first return to Kansas City since signing with the Mariners. The entirety of the stadium welcomed him with a raucous cheer and waved their “that’s what speed do” signs. No joke. Then he went and got on base to make everything that much better.

The M’s extended their lead with Valencia’s blast. For some reason Royals fans are highly skilled in revisionist history, and all cried for the homer, which clearly drilled the foul pole, to be disallowed. They were so heated in fact, that Yost marched out and got himself tossed.

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Gallardo manhandled the Royals lineup for four innings. The fifth got a little rocky, with Gallardo surrendering a game-tying homer to Ex-Saint Louis Cardinal Brandon Moss. At this point the two couples sitting behind me had had one or two too many, and it was only downhill from there.

The Mariners manufactured another run in the sixth, and Gallardo got sent back out with a one-run lead. That’s where Servais likely made his first mistake. Five two-run innings from Gallardo is a good night. With a lead, start the cycle of Phelps, Zych, Vincent, Diaz. Insert any of those first three in the 6th, 7th, and 8th respectively and cap it off with Diaz to slam the door in the ninth.

In a make or break game, that’s what needs to happen, but Servais decided to take a much more outside the box approach with his bullpen and it blew up in his face in the most painful of ways. He let Gallardo pitch to two batters in the sixth. He walked both of them. Then he went with Rzepczynski. He let one of Gallardo’s runners score to tie the game, but at that point it felt inevitable. He still escaped the inning with just the one run allowed.

This is where it gets weird. Still tied 3-3 in game one of a huge series, Servais went not with any of the aforementioned names, but with Emilio Pagan. Now in the skipper’s defense, Pagan entered the game Thursday with a 2.25 ERA, but that is only in 24 innings. There were also certainly better options he could’ve turned to.

Pagan wound up giving up three runs which would wind up being the difference. To make matters worse, the drunks behind me unsuccessfully attempted way to many times to start the wave, and it was a rough scene. All one could hope was the Mariners bats would spring to life in the ninth and shut everyone up.

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Seattle would plate one runner, and bring the tying run to the plate, but Cruz grounded out weakly to the pitcher to end the game. So the drunks went home happy, and Will left questioning Scott Servais’s use of the bullpen yet again. For a point when every game matters, the M’s can’t keep losing because of the manager.

It was a tough way to start a crucial series, but the Mariners still only sit 2.5 back of a wild card spot, and can make it all back with wins in the final three games of the series. In order to do that, they’ll have to at least win tomorrow. Big Maple Paxton is on the mound, and it could be a fun one. First pitch is 7:15 PM CT. Go Mariners.