Rangers 9, Mariners 8
(Arlington, TX) Two straight losses to the Texas Rangers dealt a sizeable blow to the playoff chances for the Seattle Mariners. Coming into the three-game series in a tie with the Rangers gave the Mariners the opportunity to help themselves out. Instead, they watched as the Rangers got about as close as possible to clinching a playoff spot without it being official. Seattle showed plenty of fight in the finale, but fight will only get you so far. When the dust settled, the Mariners were swept in Arlington for the second time this season as their comeback bid fell short, 9-8
Just like the Rangers did in the MLB debut of Bryan Woo, Texas was aggressive early in the count and in the game. Leading off the bottom of the 1st, Marcus Semien got ahead 2-0 and got a sinker that he would not let go by. Semien crushed the pitch 433-feet out to left center for his 26th home run of the year. Just three pitches in and the Rangers already had a home run and they were far from done.
Seattle would have some of their own power swings in this game as they quickly erased the early 1-0 hole. Leading off the top of the 2nd, Teoscar Hernandez ran a full count against Nathan Eovaldi. A cutter just below the belt was a big mistake and Teo capitalized. Hernandez crushed his 26th home run of the season to left. A quick answer was just what the Mariners needed but they also had a runner thrown out at the plate to end the inning as the game was even at 1-1.
For the first time in the series, Seattle would take a lead over the Rangers in the top of the 3rd. With nobody on and one out, J.P. Crawford just continued to add on to what has already been a career year for the shortstop. A splitter on the outside corner was yanked into right field and it was just high enough to get over the wall for a solo shot and his 17th home run of the season. Momentum was finally on the side of the Mariners as they took a 2-1 lead.
That momentum came to a screeching halt in the bottom of the 3rd. With a runner on first and two outs, Woo had to get by Corey Seager to protect the lead. A hanging slider on the first pitch was the only opening that Seager needed. The MVP contender crushed his 33rd home run of the season, giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead and began to open the floodgates.
Seattle’s deficit grew very quickly in the bottom of the 4th. Adolis Garcia led off the inning with the third Texas home run of the game and his 36th of the season to make it 4-2. A one-out single by Mitch Garver set things up for Leody Taveras who just continued the Rangers onslaught. Taveras also added to his career year with a two-run shot to center for his 13th long ball of the year. After Gabe Speier took over for Woo in the middle of the inning, the lefty struck out Evan Carter before facing Marcus Semien. It would be a multi-homer day for the All-Star second baseman as he crushed his 27th of the season to center. That made it five home runs on the day for Texas and three in the 4th alone as the Mariners all of a sudden were in a 7-2 hole.
A major opportunity for the Mariners to get back in the game came in the top of the 6th. Julio Rodriguez and Cal Raleigh both singled and Teoscar Hernandez walked to load the bases with nobody out. Jarred Kelenic would be the one to face new pitcher Martin Perez and he hit a soft ground ball to Semien at second. Luckily, it was hit softly enough where the Rangers could only get one out as second and Seattle scored a run while keeping runners on the corners and just one out. Eugenio Suarez would drive a fly ball to fairly deep center where Leody Taveras made the catch as Raleigh scored to make it 7-4. Sam Haggerty came through with a big two out hit, lacing one down the left field line. The ball would take a friendly kick for the Mariners and Evan Carter had to run it down. Kelenic scored from first as Haggerty stood at third with his first triple of the season and we had a ballgame as the Mariner deficit was all of a sudden just 7-5.
The bottom of the 6th looked harmless enough for Eduard Bazardo. A walk to Mitch Garver had a runner on first with two outs with rookie Evan Carter coming to the plate. After dealing a massive blow to the Mariners in the opener, Carter did it once again in the finale. A two-out, two-run blast to right center was Carter’s fourth home run of the season. Two of his four career home runs came in this series and the Rangers had widened their lead back out to 9-5.
A couple of two-out walks helped the Mariners score in the top of the 7th to answer. Teoscar Hernandez sent a single into center field to score J-Rod and make it 9-6. Jarred Kelenic followed with a knock to left to score Raleigh and make it 9-7 with runners on the corners. Eugenio Suarez kept the two-out magic going with a line drive into left center to score Kelenic and in the blink of an eye the Mariners were just down 9-8.
In the top of the 8th, it looked like another two-out rally would bring the M’s all the way back. With nobody on and two outs, J.P. Crawford pulled a single to right to put the tying run on and bring up Julio Rodriguez as the go-ahead run. J-Rod absolutely blistered one to the base of the wall in left center. This is where I think a mistake was made that cost the Mariners their comeback bid. Third base coach Manny Acta held Crawford at third on Julio’s 37th double. Instead of trying to allow Crawford to score, Acta put added pressure on Cal Raleigh and he couldn’t get the job done. Raleigh struck out swinging the Seattle left two runners in scoring position, still trailing 9-8.
To get the win, the Mariners would have to get to Jose Leclerc. Things looked bleak when the Rangers closer struck out both Teoscar Hernandez and Jarred Kelenic for a quick two outs. Eugenio Suarez gave them some life with two outs. Geno’s 27th double of the season put the tying run in scoring position with two outs. Jose Caballero pinch ran for Suarez as the tying run while Dominic Canzone came to the plate. The rookie got ahead 2-0 and got a pitch in his wheel house, up and in. Canzone smoked it past first base where Nathaniel Lowe made a sliding stop to keep the ball on the infield. A flip to Leclerc covering first crushed Mariner spirits as the M’s fell just short, getting swept by Texas 9-8.
The devastating sweep at the hands of the Rangers but even more emphasis on this final week of the regular season. Seattle (84-71) will now head home for their final seven games of the season this week. First up, a three-game series with the defending World Series champions as the Houston Astros (85-71) come to town also coming off of being swept at the hands of the Kansas City Royals. The teams come in just separated by half of a game with the Astros having the edge on the Mariners for the final Wild Card spot. Game one on Monday at 6:40pm is one incredible pitching matchup that is a playoff caliber battle. Luis Castillo (14-7, 3.06 ERA) will take the mound for the Mariners as he continues his late Cy Young push. The Mariners have not lost a game started by Castillo since July 24th, a stretch of ten games. In those ten starts, Castillo has recorded seven quality outings, including three in a row. Infamous Mariner killer Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.44 ERA) will look to snap a tough stretch of baseball for the Astros. In 37 career starts against the M’s Verlander is 21-10 with a 3.09 ERA, but did get roughed up in the postseason last year against Seattle.
Barf. That was about as demoralizing of a series as anyone could imagine. Yeah, there was plenty of fight. But if you gave me the option of taking the series as it happened or get blown out in games one and three but take game two, I will take the latter every single time. I am going to keep this short and sweet. This series with Houston is do-or-die. Losing two of three will likely end the Mariners season. It’s gut check time.
- Teoscar Hernandez- 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB
- Eugenio Suarez- 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI
- Bryan Woo (L, 4-5)- 3.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO
- Marcus Semien- 2-4, 2 HRs, 2 RBI, 2 R
- Leody Taveras- 2-3, HR, 2 RBI,2 R, BB
- Nathan Eovaldi (W, 12-4)- 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO