Wow, Seattle Mariners fans everywhere are shocked. The Mariners had it. They had the game in the bag. That was until the doors of the bullpen opened and Robbie Ray made his way to the mound in Houston. The Mariners had a 7-3 lead going into the bottom of the 8th inning, and then Andres Muñoz came in and gave up a two-run bomb to Alex Bregman. This led to Scott Servais giving the ball to Paul Sewald in the 9th inning.
Then Sewald looked bad again, walking a batter and giving up a single to Jeremy Peña. With two on and two outs being up by two runs was stressful, but then M’s Manager Scott Servais made the decision to go to left-hander Robbie Ray to get Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez out to secure the win. On the surface it seemed like a solid move since the left on left seemed to give the M’s the advantage. It did not and all hell broke loose in Houston.
Scott Servais calling on Robbie Ray was the wrong call for the Mariners, and there is no defending it
Without much thought it seemed like going to the lefty Robbie Ray would create a good matchup for the M’s because generally, it is hard for a lefty to hit against a lefty. However, that is not the case with Alvarez. The huge lefty slugger hits .321 against lefties versus .299 against righties. It doesn’t make a huge difference, but Alvarez only hit 10 of his 37 homers against left-handed pitching, albeit in much fewer at-bats.
In his career, Alvarez is 1 for 3 with two walks against Robbie Ray, and realistically, that is such a small sample size it doesn’t matter. Ray has been terrible against the Astros all year, in 10.2 innings he has allowed 7 walks, 23 hits, and 6 home runs, all adding up to 13 earned runs. That is just flat-out terrible, and Servais should not have gone to him in that spot. The bullpen has looked shaky in all three playoff games so far except for Muñoz in game one against Toronto.
Whether you like the move to go with Ray there doesn’t matter because I don’t think anyone can agree with the attack plan there. Two fastballs in the strike zone? No way that was a good idea. Ray threw a good first-pitch strike with the fastball to get ahead. From there it should have been sliders down and away to get him to swing and miss. Going with Erik Swanson would have been a better move too because he has his nasty splitter and has been great versus lefties all year.
Giving up the three-run walk-off bomb to the mighty Alvarez is easily one of the worst losses in franchise history. The Mariners had the game in the bag. They had a 5 run lead and had to get a measly six outs. They needed to do this with one of the best bullpens in baseball, but that bullpen let the Mariners down. They have to regroup, and luckily they have a day off before their ace Luis Castillo takes the mound for game two of this series, which now has become a must-win game.