Mariners Mayhem: Don’t Panic Just Yet

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TORONTO, ON - MAY 10: Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by Nelson Cruz #23 after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 10, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 10: Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by Nelson Cruz #23 after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 10, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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The Seattle Mariners have lost five games in a row. After reaching a record of 46-25 and at 21 games over .500 for the first time since 2003, the M’s were swept by the Yankees in the Bronx and dropped a game to Boston on Friday night.

To make it even worse, the Mariners held a 5-0 lead against New York on Wednesday; they would lose 7-5 on a walk-off homer by Giancarlo Stanton. On Friday, they pounced on knuckleballer Steven Wright and once led 10-5 in an intimidating Fenway Park. The bullpen imploded and the M’s lost 14-10.

Ouch.

Who’s to blame? The offense has been decent throughout the stretch, with games such as the 7-6 comeback against Boston last Friday in Seattle. In addition, the Mariners attacked the Sox in Fenway for 10 runs in their first of a three-game stint at Fenway. With the exception of a few Mariner bats going cold, the offense has done their job.

The starting pitching, for the most part, has held down the fort. The Yankees jumped on Marco Gonzales on Tuesday en route to a 7-2 win, and Wade Leblanc allowed 5 first-inning runs Friday night against Boston. However, the offense has continued to keep Seattle in the game late into games. Felix was strong in his start at Yankee Stadium, and James Paxton was able to settle down after a rough first inning in the Bronx.

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 20: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 20, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 20: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 20, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Scott Servais has arguably cost Seattle a game (or two) throughout the road trip. The most glaring concern throughout the five-game skid? Edwin Diaz has thrown a total of 0 pitches.

Fans have watched leads evaporate while our best pitcher sits in the bullpen waiting for a 9th inning save that never comes. The Mariners should not save their closer for the last inning if they cannot hold the lead without him.

Yes, hindsight is 20/20. And while we can blame Servais for the pitching, we must leave the players accountable as well. Five-run leads should not disappear as quickly as Seattle has let them. Also, the pitchers need to locate. Leaving a hanging breaking ball to Giancarlo Stanton – in a tie game – in the bottom of the 9th – on a 0-2 count (!!!) – is not a good idea.

The losses hurt. Nothing is more deflating as a fan to watch considerable leads evaporate due to the bullpen. However, we cannot hit the panic button just yet.

In a season that has been filled with one-run magic and hope for a playoff appearance for the first time since 2001, Seattle is in the heart of the toughest stretch of its schedule. They have endured a gauntlet comprised of 3 games with the Angels, 4 with Boston, 3 with the Yankees, and 3 with the Red Sox – again. So far, they are 5-6 in the stretch.

If Seattle were to drop 5 in a row to the 21-52 Orioles and the 22-52 Royals, there may be cause for major concern. However, the recent losses have all come to either Boston or New York – both legitimate World Series contenders.

To put things in perspective, the Mariners are 12-8 in June, and the 34-40 Rays are the worst team by the record they have faced. After wrapping up the three-game set at Fenway, Seattle will play four in Baltimore and return home to play the Kansas City Royals – both in last place in their respective divisions.

The Mariners are still in a considerable lead in the AL Wild Card over the Angels, who have dropped 7 of their last 10. Their offense can bring them back into any game, and their pitching has the ability to shut down any team. Every team will slide, and better to lose to World Series contenders than teams that dwell at the bottom of their divisions.

Next: Mariners Trade a Day: Brad Hand

Despite the five-game skid, do not panic yet: The Mariners are contenders with a lot of magic left.

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