Somehow, some way, the Seattle Mariners are 5-1 to start the 2019 season.
I fail to make sense of this series. From the countless defensive misplays to the woes of the bullpen, the Mariners proved several clear concerns about themselves correct. Yet, they just took three games out of a four-game set against the defending world champion Boston Red Sox.
They saved their best for last against Porcello today, driving the 2016 American League Cy Young award winner out of the game after just 2.2 innings of six-hit, nine-run ball. Porcello threw 73 pitches for just eight outs, further showing how well Mariners hitters worked counts and made Boston’s pitching staff consistently frustrated throughout this series.
At the forefront of today’s offensive outburst for the Mariners was Omar Narváez, who finished 2-for-5 with a monster three-run home run in the bottom of the third. Narváez only appeared in two of the four games in this series, but made his presence felt in both games, homering twice.
Ryon Healy continues to impress early on, logging another extra base hit in an overall 2-for-4 day for him. The Mariners also saw a really good performance from Dee Gordon, who pushed across three runs, stole a base, and played an excellent second base all day long.
The Mariners offense wasn’t entirely flawless in this series, however. Over the last three games, including today, the bats failed to play add-on against a mediocre Red Sox bullpen. Jay Bruce tacked on a run with a solo home run off Brian Johnson in the bottom of the fourth, but that would be it for the day.
Given how poorly the Mariners’ pitching staff had managed to hold off Boston’s offense throughout the week, it would have been nice to see them continue to pour it on.
Wade LeBlanc wasn’t incredibly sharp today, though he did make it into the sixth inning. After the Mariners took a 9-3 lead early on, LeBlanc immediately let the Red Sox back into the game with an awful mistake to J.D. Martinez, who took him deep for three quick runs.
And once again, the Red Sox would rally. But as was the case for the previous two nights, their rally was manufactured less by their offense and more by the mistakes of the Mariners.
Cory Gearrin was dreadful in his first save opportunity of the year, failing to command his fastball and seemingly trying to cherry pick his way around Red Sox hitters. It didn’t work, and Gearrin was pulled after throwing just four strikes of the 16 pitches he threw, loading the bases with three walks.
The almost forgotten member of the Mariners’ bullpen, Chasen Bradford, was called upon for his 2019 debut and initially struggled in a similar fashion to Gearrin. Bradford walked the first batter he faced, Blake Swihart, which brought home a run. But the 29-year-old righty dug in to strike out Christian Vázquez and induce a ground ball off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. to wrap up the series victory for the M’s.
It wasn’t smooth whatsoever, but neither was the rest of the series. Somehow, the Mariners clawed their way to three wins against one of the best teams in baseball, and made one of the game’s top rotations look less than average. If Hunter Strickland was a better communicator, they may have very well swept them. Insane.
Tomorrow, the Mariners will finally play someone different as the Angels comes to town for a quick two-game series. Félix Hernández will make his debut in the first game, squaring off against former Giants pitcher Chris Stratton.