The Mariners struggle without Julio Rodríguez, but rally from an early three-run deficit to beat the Athletics 5-4 in the rubber match.
A playoff spot is still not close to guaranteed, not when you have a history like the Seattle Mariners. Regardless, the 2023 edition is proving to be a special ballclub.
By beating the Athletics on Wednesday afternoon, the Mariners achieved something which even the 2001 116-win team didn’t. This year’s version finished August with 21 wins, the most ever for a single month in franchise history.
You know Mariners manager Scott Servais is proud of his players for achieving this feat, but still opted for some humor. He said postgame:
“There’s like 60 days in August isn’t there? I wish there was. What a month.”
For some context regarding just how special this achievement is, consider that the Mariners began the month 5.0 games behind the Rangers in the AL West. Now, they’ve overtaken them to sit all alone at the top of the division. (Albeit just .001 percent ahead of the Astros.)
Of course this is still the Mariners, so they had to make things awkward for themselves on Wednesday afternoon. Despite playing an Athletics team with the worst record in the Majors, it took a late rally to secure the 5-4 win and the series.
Miller mostly pitches well
Bryce Miller got the start for the Mariners, and faced his adversity early on. The Athletics scored three runs during the second inning, including a two-run blast from Lawrence Butler, for the 3-0 lead.
In fairness to Miller he did settle down after this, allowing no more runs in his 6.0 innings of action. In all, he conceded seven hits and no walks, to go along with the three earned runs.
The 25-year-old also produced a 26 percent swing-and-miss rate, on the way to five strikeouts. He threw 94 pitches in total, 63 of which were called strikes.
Miller left the game with the no-decision and remains 8-4 on the season in 20 outings, which includes nine quality starts. Overall he continues to impress in his first year of Major league action, with a 3.93 ERA, 3.77 FIP and 1.050 WHIP.
Hernández leads Mariners offense
Without the injured Julio Rodríguez for a second straight game the Mariners struggled to manufacture hits, with just six on the day. However, they were thankful for Teoscar Hernández.
The two-time Silver Slugger helped the Mariners rally in the third inning, with his three-run homer cancelling the Athletics’ early advantage. The three scores came with two outs, and were the only runs Oakland starter Zach Neal allowed.
Hernández has been on a hot streak of late, and ends August with a .365 batting average, seven home runs and 22 RBI. If the Mariners are to continue to produce at their recent rate on offense, he will remain key.
The adversity still wasn’t over for the Mariners, as the Athletics regained the lead at 4-3 in the top of the seventh. However, the home side replied almost immediately in the bottom half of the inning.
The Mariners loaded the bases to set the stage for J.P. Crawford, who duly obliged with a two-run single and 5-4 lead. The shortstop is an impressive 7-for-11 this season when the bases are loaded.
Servais was certainly not surprised to see Crawford come through in the clutch. He said:
“J.P. is going to put the ball in play and he’s not going to try to do too much in those spots. He’s learned that through the years and I think it’s a great example for our younger players to look at.”
With the lead in place, it was now a case of the bullpen coming through to secure the win. The much scrutinized duo of Matt Brash and Andrés Muñoz achieved just this, both pitching a scoreless inning to close out the game.
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Attention to detail
A significant part of the reason why the Mariners have been so hot in recent weeks, is their focus and attention to detail. As Hernández said postgame:
“That’s how you win and get to the playoffs. … It happened in the third inning when (Eugenio Suárez) got a walk and then (Cal) Raleigh got a double, and then I got a chance to get a good pitch and (we) tie the game. So when you’re doing things like that, that’s when you win.”
Servais backed up this assessment. He said:
“The little things like that we have done for the last couple of months, that’s why we’re playing the way we are,. And then we get the big hit when we need it.”
Thursday is a rest day for the Mariners, before beginning a series versus the Mets on Friday. Servais advised he hopes to have Rodríguez return at some point during the three-game set in New York.
As we come to the end of August, how confident are you in the Mariners now qualifying for the playoffs? What’s your biggest concern for the final few weeks of the regular season? Let us know in the comments section below.