The Mariners came into this series with the hopes of finishing out the season without having somebody blow a knee or something equally awful. In the smaller scale, the Mariners came into this particular series with a 7-9 against the Rangers. A sweep would give those loveable Mariners a winning record on the season against the hated Rangers. Actually, I'm not entirely sure they're hated. The Yankees, yes, probably. The Rangers though? I'll leave it up to the individual.
Even with their season record against the Rangers being respectable, considering its the Rangers, hope was not exactly shining through at the start of this particular slate of games. The bright spot in the offense for most of September has been Justin Smoak. That is a sentence I never thought I'd see, let alone write myself. None of the big time pitchers were going this weekend, and by that I mean Felix wasn't pitching. It was bleak, to be sure, but hey, Brendan Ryan.
The first game was interesting, but not really. The Rangers tossed a rookie at those good ol' Seattle boys of baseball because why not? Up to that point, Martin Perez had faced the Mariners 3 other times in relief appearances. He'd gone 5 1/3 giving up 0 hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts. The Mariners countered with Hisashi Iwakuma. Not because they need to evaluate him any more, but because why not? See what I did there? He'd done fairly poorly against the Rangers, but they're not playing for anything really, so might as well see his last couple or so starts just to make sure.
Rather than the game ending up the way I thought it might, Seattle won 6-3. Iwakuma was effective through 7 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 8 hits to go along with 0 walks and 4 punch outs against a Hamilton- and Beltre-less offense. Still, you can't really complain. And if you do, just.....just stop. Miguel Olivo added a home run, which is depressing. Also depressing: Chone Figgins is still on the team. On a brighter note, Carlos Triunfel got his first career RBI on a double. See, I ended that one on a bright note!
On Saturday, in a 1-0 win by the Mariners, it was Matt Harrison going up against the Mariners. The Mariners decided to shock the Rangers by having a former Ranger prospect pitch against them. Those crazy Mariners. Somehow, it worked, barely. I shouldn't say that. The pitching was excellent on both sides, so that wasn't the problem. No no, it was the offenses that should've been filmed and used as a horror flick. Or sent to prisons as a punishment/torture device. Either would work, I suspect.
Blake Beavan did his best to be his boring, effective self against a still Hamilton-less Rangers offense and was, well, effective. He went a typical 7 shutout innings, giving up a typical 8 hits, 1 walk and collecting a typical 2 strikeouts. Like I said, boring and effective. If you looked up Blake Beavan in a dictionary, you'd see 7 8 0 0 1 2 by his name with the note "see also: boring, effective". Alright, so the shutout part isn't typical, but the rest of it is just Beavan in the nutshell. Gives up contact, misses 0 bats and throws strikes.
The offense was provided by a solo Michael Saunders home run to right field, because of course he did. That's not to knock Saunders. He's actually been a bright spot on the field this year, providing an adequate filler for Guti in center and bring some offense this time around the majors. He had slowed down as the year progressed, with his worst month by OPS being August at .623. Boy, has he turned it around in September. So far for the month, he has an OPS of .945. No, that's not a typo. How dare you question me. A lot of that has to do with a .381 OBP for the month and 2 triples. Before September, his best month this season was March/April with a .338 OBP. Bet you forgot the Mariners played the A's in March in Japan. And now you have a reminder of Bartolo Colon shutting down the Mariners offense!
The last game of the series came on Sunday with the Mariners coming up just short, losing 3-2. This one was interesting. Not because Jason Vargas gave up his 35th home run of the season, because that's not surprising in the least. And not because Ryan Dempster did what he do against the Seattle offense. Everybody does this against the Mariners offense, so shocking this was not. If you watched the game, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, click here and give it a look.
You watch and think, no big deal, Brendan Ryan homered. He pulled the pitch toward right center and the baseball used for said pitch went over the fence. Keep in mind, this is a guy with 15 career homers in 2031 AB's. When you hear Brendan Ryan hit a home run, you tend to think it was barely fair down the left field line. Or just getting over the fence by the hand operated scoreboard. Ryan hit it just left of the 388' marker. This is a power alley that has killed many a right handed hitter in their times as Mariners. Beltre and Sexson are the two most prominent that come to mind.
The ball left Ryan's bat at 111.3 mph and landed 418' away from home plate. The average for MLB is 103.4 mph and 398.2. Brendan Ryan didn't just hit a home run. He crushed it. Those numbers don't look like much, but Ryan isn't exactly a slugger either, so taking it with a little context to make it go down a little easier, it becomes much more clear.
Seattle headed to Anaheim to play the Angels earlier today or yesterday, depending on when this gets read. It'll be Zack Greinke and Erasmo Ramirez as the pitchers throwing baseballs from the mound beginning at around 7:05pm. That's not eastern time either. Those of us on the west coast have to subtract three hours all the freaking time, you can add 3 hours and get the same result. I don't have much hope that the Mariners can come out of this game with a win, but I've been proven wrong before. Prove me wrong Mariners!