For the better part of this season, the Mariners bullpen has been one of baseball’s most dominant and consistent things. “Los Bomberos” led baseball in most stats since the beginning of May, and were a big part of why the M’s were winning so many baseball games. That got put to the test Sunday afternoon, and for once, they weren’t able to answer the call.
With the series split, the Mariners spent Sunday looking like they were going to cruise to a series victory. Scoring early and often, Seattle found themselves up 6-1 over the Braves after the 6th inning. Julio had started the game off with a blast, Frazier and Haggerty had driven in a few, Suarez went deep, and Crawford had an RBI double.
The Mariners looked to be in control but needed late heroics to save the day
At this point, the Mariners have been nearly unbeatable. If not for some crappy calls and an unwillingness to check a pitcher who is constantly going to his long hair and the dirt, the Mariners might’ve actually stayed undefeated with a lead entering the 8th inning. It’s rare they lose. So, with a 6-2 lead heading into the 9th, you had no reason to expect that they would blow the lead.
Well, that’s why you actually play the game. Diego Castillo took the mound and started the inning off by going like this…
- Four ball walk to Austin Riley
- Full count walk to Matt Olson
- Fielder’s choice ground out
- Strike out
Okay, nothing bad yet. four-run lead, two on and two out. Should Castillo still be in the game? Or, with one of the best rookies in baseball coming up, already with a homer in the game and hitting 300+ on the season, should a new arm come in?
Servais went with Castillo still, and it was a massive mistake. Harris hit a three-run bomb, and it was now 6-5. Paul Sewald came in and didn’t do much better. A single and two-run bomb made it 7-6 Braves. He’s hit Acuna, and finally, getting Swanson to ground out to end the Braves inning.
Instead of cruising to a win, the Mariners would now be looking to do damage off one of the better closers in the game, and one of the most dominant closers of the last decade in Kenley Jansen. With just a single loss on the year and 6 HR allowed in 52+ innings, the offense was going to have their hands full.
Again… that’s why you play the game. Haggerty tried to get things going with a bunt but was gunned down at first. Julio Rodriguez was next up, and he couldn’t let Harris be the only rookie outfielder with a two-homer game. He would blast his 25th of the year, and it was 7-7 Mariners. Chaos Ball is thy name, and it was making an appearance yet again in Seattle.
After a pinch-hit pop-out by Ty France, Geno would come to the plate. The Mariners hadn’t had teammates hit two homers each in a game in three years or so… so Suarez decided to change that.
It was his 30th of the year, and gave the Mariners a massive 8-7 win, allowing them to take the series from the Braves and get them back into a tie at the top of the WC standings with the Rays.
Next up is the Padres for a small two-game set, and the Mariners will take off on their last road trip of the season after. It’s coming down to it, and the M’s are making it stressful… but fun as can be. Go, Mariners!