Somebody mentioned in the comments thread of the previous post that this Mariners team is putting itself in a position to take advantage of some luck. I could not agree more. Just like, back during the team’s losing stretches, luck seemed to go the other way when the M’s were not getting things done.
You have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good in this game.
Yes, it helps to play the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Mariners could easily have been swept the last three instead of sweeping. But the D-Backs are not the Yankees or Red Sox and the Mariners got away with their lack of situational hitting throughout the series.
Then again, though, when you keep pitching well and playing good defense — as the Mariners did today — you position yourself to steal some wins. This lineup today didn’t have a whole lot going for it, but Felix Hernandez, Garrett Olson and Mark Lowe kept things close on the scoreboard so that one dropped ball by Tony Clark was enough to separate victory from defeat.
That’s baseball. And when you have the best pitching in the American League, backed up by stellar defense, you don’t need unworldly offense to win.
The Mariners are 25-9 when they score four runs or more. And unlike most teams, they don’t get the bulk of those numbers with five or six runs per game. For them, four is usually the maximum.
They are 10-25 when scoring fewer than four runs as they did today, but let me tell you, those 10 wins are a testament to this team’s pitching. Today, they got it from Felix Hernandez on a day that anything less than his two runs allowed over 7 1/3 innings probably would have resulted in defeat.
“For me that was probably his best overall performance as far as just competing and battling,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said of Hernandez. “I didn’t think he had his best stuff or his best command today. but he made one bad pitch when he was a little bit tired and other than that, he just really, to me, he’s grown over his last I don’t know how many starts. He just keeps getting better and better and maturing.”
Hernandez has a 1.00 ERA his last six outings since Wakamatsu called him out over a lack of focus and preparedness.
Chris Woodward helped bail Hernandez out of that bases-loaded, none out situation in the second.
“I was joking with (Adrian Beltre), I said ‘That’s what we need, that third baseman over there’,” Hernandez said of Woodward, subbing for the injured Beltre.
Hernandez never really looked back from there until that two-run homer in the eighth by Mark Reynolds on his 112th pitch.
“The first two innings, I didn’t have a feel for my pitches — my slider or my curveball. After the second inning, everything was fine, it was sharp. It was only one pitch, one mistake, I missed my location and they hit a homer.”
Still, though, Hernandez and the Mariners were relieved to get out of this game with a win and this weekend with a rare sweep considering all the issues impacting the club at the moment.
“You should have seen me here in the clubhouse, man,” said Hernandez, who was icing up and watching the game on television when the winning run scored. “I was crazy. I was crazy. We won the game and it was good.”
Speaking of Woodward, he tweaked his groin during the game, which is why he was bunting in the ninth with two on and none out. The team wasn’t about to risk having him swing away and have any grounder result in an automatic double-play. So, while his fouling out on the bunt attempt was disappointing, it still left the M’s two more outs to get something done.
Actually three more outs, when you think of it, because that dropped ball by Clark gave them one extra. And with good teams, that’s sometimes all it takes. The Mariners are now a game over .500 for the first time since May 7 and looking better and better all the time.
June 21, 2009 at 5:54 PM