With the Mariners finally surpassing the .500 mark at home against the Houston Astros last week, things finally seemed to be looking up for the ballclub, especially with the Philadelphia Phillies coming to town, who possess MLB’s worst record at 27-53, and had just 10 road wins coming into the series. Along with that, the Mariners had their two best arms taking the mound in James Paxton and Felix Hernandez, who made his second start since coming off the disabled list with shoulder bursitis.
Nevertheless, a lack of offense and a hitch in the bullpen, particularly from closer Edwin Diaz, were the premier causes for the M’s suffering two home losses in the short series.
In game one the Mariners jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a two-run blast from Jean Segura, but it was all they would be able to push across. In fact, the team as a whole was only able to string together five hits. Two came from Segura, two came from Danny Valencia, and one came from Jarrod Dyson.
On the mound Paxton cruised through his first four innings, and looked as if he would finally revert back to the form that he had displayed through the first month of the season before landing on the DL with a strained forearm. But a two-run hiccup in the 5th and a mammoth home run from Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco in the 7th gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, ending Paxton’s night at the end of seven.
Tony Zych and Edwin Diaz were unable to stop the bleeding in the 8th and 9th, as Zych gave up a run in the 8th and Diaz surrendered four runs in the 9th, failing to complete his full inning. The M’s dropped the game 8-2.
Then in game two, Felix gave his team another quality start, allowing three earned runs in six strong innings. The only real trouble he encountered was when Ty Kelly took him deep to right centerfield to put the Phillies on top 2-1. Regardless, he kept the M’s in the game and the offense gave him run support for his second consecutive start (something fans would never see in the pre-Robinson Cano era). Kyle Seager, Valencia, and Cano all contributed long balls and the M’s took a 4-3 lead heading into the 9th.
But Diaz struggled once again, giving up a solo bomb to Tommy Joseph to tie the game. He later walked a man, got issued a balk, and let up an RBI single to Andrew Knapp, which resulted in being the deciding run, and the M’s lost 5-4.
Struggles aside Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto vowed to keep Diaz as the closer, and the team took a short break from their favorable home schedule to play a three-game series in Anaheim, hoping to turn around their luck once again.
Seattle dominated from every aspect in game one, as they won by a score of 10-0. Four homers were hit by the club, two from Cano, one from Seager, and one from Zunino, who finished the month with 31 RBI’s, just three short of breaking the franchise record for RBI’s in a month. Ariel Miranda was dominant on the hill, allowing no runs on two hits in his seven innings.
But as well as game one went, game two went the exact opposite. The Mariners had no answers for Ricky Nolasco, who despite his season struggles, seems to use the M’s as a healing medication. Nolasco tossed a complete game shutout, giving up just three hits. Although Sam Gaviglio was solid, going 6.1 innings while letting up three runs, he had no support on the offensive side of the ball. The Angels took the showdown 4-0.
But in the rubber match James Paxton finally did find his old form, going 6.1 innings while giving the Angels just one run to work with. Paxton had a perfect game going through the first 5.1 innings, but a soft liner by Danny Espinosa destroyed that hope in the bottom of the 6th. The Mariners collected enough runs to put them on top with the long ball taking center stage once again. Robbie Cano slingshot a three-run jack off the right field foul pole in the 8th to give the Mariners a 5-1 lead. Jean Segura provided the other two runs with an RBI single and RBI double on a 4 for 5 afternoon. Despite an offensive scare in the bottom of the 8th from the Halos, the M’s hung on to win 5-3. Edwin Diaz hurled the final 1.1 innings of the game to pick up the save, while also getting his team out of a jam in the 8th with two runners in scoring position.
Overall the Mariners had a 2-3 week as July now rolls in, finishing with a June record of 15-12. Their season record currently stands at 41-42. This is not the worst week they could have encountered, especially after getting swept by the Phillies at home in two games. They still managed to pick up a series win on the road against an Angels team that has played very good baseball up to this point.
Seattle now comes home for the week for a three-game stand against the Royals, followed by a four-game series against the A’s. Andrew Moore is expected to return to the big-league club and start on Monday. In Moore’s Major League debut, he went 7 innings while allowing three earned runs to the Tigers.
One injury update: Nelson Cruz exited Saturday’s game with knee soreness. He is day-to-day at this point, but is not expected to go on the DL. Cruz has not hit a home run since June 4th, a streak that marks the longest of his career. Regardless, he was selected on Sunday afternoon for his 5th career All Star Game.
Weekly MVP: After a much-needed monster week, Robinson Cano earns this week’s Player of the Week honors. Cano had seven hits in five games, including four homers and nine RBI’s. He now is hitting .284 on the year with 17 HR’s, along with a whopping 60 RBI’s, which is currently second in the American League, behind only Aaron Judge.