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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

August 1, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Mariners playing more long games than at any time in team history

Mariners catcher Humberto Quintero tags up and scores a tying run from third in the fifth inning last night. Quintero had two hits and caught all 15 innings of a 5-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Photo Credit: AP

Mariners catcher Humberto Quintero tags up and scores a tying run from third in the fifth inning last night. Quintero had two hits and caught all 15 innings of a 5-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Photo Credit: AP

We’ve still got a third of a season to go for the Mariners, but they’ve already tied a franchise record for the most games of at least 13-innings in a season. Only the 2004 and 1980 versions of the squad had endured five games of at least 13 innings, something the Mariners pulled off last night in their 15-inning loss to the Boston Red Sox. And again, unlike those long-finished 2004 and 1980 campaigns, the 2013 squad still has 55 games of season left to go.

The Mariners played some pretty tough baseball last night, twice overcoming deficits and nearly taking the lead in the 15th if not for a diving catch by left fielder Jonny Gomes of a Michael Saunders liner that appeared it would drop in and score Raul Ibanez from second. Ibanez had already rounded third by the time the ball was caught and could only watch as Gomes jogged back in and touched second base to complete a rarely-seen unassisted double play by a left fielder.

So, anyhow, there you go. Another long, long ballgame for the Mariners.

Is there anything we should be reading into that?

Well, that can be tricky. It’s really a chicken-or-egg question, because it’s pretty clear you have to have trouble scoring in order to stretch that deep into a game. The Mariners have had trouble scoring the past week or two — in which two such long games have occured — and we know they had trouble scoring last year, when they played four games of at least 15 innings and one of them going as long as 18 against Baltimore.

But we also know that it takes two to tango. The Red Sox have a good offense and yet, they still couldn’t score last night until Lucas Luetge pretty much ran out of gas at the end and started walking guys in his third inning of relief.

So, if we know the Red Sox have offense, we really can’t say that’s the reason the Mariners keep playing so many long games.

Perhaps it’s their bullpen and some solid performances?

That could be. Yoervis Medina, Charlie Furbush, Danny Farquhar — superb with four strikeouts over three scoreless innings — and Luetge all did their jobs.

And yes, you need some pitching to carry a team that deep. The past few seasons, the Seattle bullpen has been one of the mainstays of what’s been a pretty mediocre club otherwise.

I can remember covering the longest World Series game in history back in 2005 when the White Sox beat the Houston Astros 7-5 in Houston in Game 3. That game took 5 hours, 43 minutes to play and my memory of it remains watching Astros fans (our auxillary pressbox was right behind the first section of seats behind home plate) all around us literally pull their hair in frustration when Houston failed to score. The Astros managed just one run over the final 10 innings of that 7-5 loss.

The one thing both teams had in common that playoff year was a lack of offense. The White Sox, in fact, became one of the worst offensive teams in the post-season to ever clinch a World Series. The reason was that their mound staff — led by a dominant rotation and closer Bobby Jenks — held opponents to some of the fewest run totals allowed in playoff history.

So, again, it’s a chicken-or-egg question.

We’ll learn more about these Mariners as their season wears on and then — more importantly — as next season begins and they have a realistic shot at winning something. Right now, they are seven games under .500 and don’t have a shot. There’s a huge difference. All we know now is that they are playing some very long games. We know that last night’s was a dogfight in which they went toe-to-toe with a contender for 15 innings as opposed to their 16 innings of futility against the lowly White Sox back in June.

We don’t really know what to read into it. All we know is, we have plenty of time for some long reading.

Comments | More in long games | Topics: raul ibanez; michael saunders; johnny gomes; lucas luetge


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