The dream is officially dead. The Seattle Mariners will not go 161-1, not after a frustrating 10-8 loss to the Chicago White Sox on their Opening Day.
In all seriousness, the Seattle Mariners suffered their second frustrating loss of the season today. And while one game is hardly a reason to panic, especially when the team has admitted that 2019 won’t be their season, we can still glean some useful information from each game.
There are a ton of things to dissect in games like this. However, a few of these observations rises above the rest. With that in mind, here are a few of the biggest things that jumped out about the Mariners second loss of 2019.
1. Cory Gearrin May Not Be on the Roster For Long
It was another disastrous outing for Cory Gearrin, his third in a row. Entering the game with an 8-6 lead, Gearrin proceeded to walk the first 3 batters he faced while throwing just one pitch that was remotely close to a strike. He then pegged the 4th batter he faced, forcing in a run. He was then pulled, but the damage was done.
Before the rest of the bullpen could fix Gearrin’s mess, the Mariners found themselves down 9-8 and was unable to recover. Gearrin is a veteran arm, so one bad outing wouldn’t be too much to worry about. However, this is the 3rd consecutive outing he struggled in and hasn’t shown anything above 30-grade control (20-80 scale).
With the plethora of young relief arms in the system, Gearrin is walking on thin ice in Seattle and may find himself looking for his 5th team in a year sooner rather than later.
2. The Mariners Defense is Laughably Bad
After the Mariners played their first clean game against the Los Angeles Angels, the hope was that Seattle would find a nice groove defensively. That thought was quickly put to bed in the first inning. Shortstop Tim Beckham made 3 errors, forcing Yusei Kikuchi to throw 30 pitches and surrender 3 runs, 2 of which were unearned.
It isn’t hard to see why the defense would struggle. Ryon Healy and Jay Bruce are playing out of position. Beckham may have a lot of experience at short but is better suited for second or third. Only Dee Gordon is above-average at his position, but even he left the game with an unknown leg injury.
The team is on pace to blow away the modern MLB record for errors in a season. The outfield defense isn’t terrible, and Mallex Smith almost made the play of the year in this one as well. Getting Kyle Seager back should allow the defense to at least to be passable. But with at least another 2 months of waiting, it could be a long wait for that passable defense.
3. Daniel Vogelbach Needs More PAs
This is a topic of conversation we have had a lot to say about this week. It took a small injury to Edwin Encarnacion to get Vogelbach into the lineup, but he has shown the promise the Mariners have been preaching for 3-years.
For his second game in a row, Vogelbach launched a laser beam home run, this time to left field. He also added another base hit and is 4 for 7 filling in for Encarnacion. No, 7 ABs is hardly enough to tell that Vogelbach is going to hit all season, but you are taking a step back. Vogelbach needs to be in the lineup 4-5 times a week.
4. Kikuchi Looked Good Again
The final stat line may not look pretty, but Yusei Kikuchi pitched through a lot of adversity. 5 innings of 4 run ball may not sound great, but after throwing 30 pitches in the first, Kikuchi was able to give Scott Servais innings and keep his offense in the game.
The curveball was good and he was able to bust his 92 mph fastball in on righties with great effect. Aside from the near grand slam in the first, Kikuchi was mostly done in by well-placed singles but still threw well enough to earn a win.
Considering his first 3 outings of his big league career all came in light of normally difficult situations, YK has been excellent.
5. Scott Servais Bullpen Management is Still Poor
Even when he had a dominant closer and good set up man, Servais’ bullpen management has always been questionable. The decision to go to Gearrin in the first place was odd. Sticking with him as long as he did was odder.
Now, it’s not like Servais has a ton of good options available to him. But with what basically amounted to 3 days off for his bullpen, he could have gone to anybody. Instead, he went to the two guys who have struggled to throw strikes to try and protect a 2 run lead. Sigh.
6. Win or Lose, the Team is Fun.
Finally, it is important to have some perspective. Losses like this would have stung hard last year. But with the freedom of low/no expectations, this loss was still a lot of fun to watch. The Mariners trailed 6-1 early but continued to chip away and eventually snagged an 8-6 lead.
This team can swing the bat and their starting pitching has been better than anticipated. While the bullpen and defense will always be concerns, their ability to stay in every game and hit copious amounts of homers will keep us locked into this team for many months to come.
The Seattle Mariners will get right back to business Saturday at 11:10 PDT. Mike Leake will get the ball as the team attempts to avoid their first losing streak of 2019.