A salvage reaction 😮‍💨

I'm afraid I may have contributed to the Mariners' recent tailspin.

It’s possible that the Mariners’ skid is my fault.

A couple of weeks ago – back when Seattle had a 10-game lead in the division – I expressed a potential concern in my weekly conversation with Mitch Levy for his Unfiltered podcast.

I worried that Seattle’s lead in the division was so comfortable that it might become harder to pry the wallet out of ownership’s back pocket to make the additions this team fairly obviously needs to its lineup and (increasingly) to the bullpen).

Why pay for midseason additions when you’re fairly certain of making the playoffs?

In my defense:

  • I was laughing when I said it.

  • I also said that if you offered me a playoff berth now with no midseason additions I would take it 10 times out of 10.

Of course, as a Mariners fan, I should know better than to joke about such things.

As of Friday morning, Seattle has lost 10 of its last 14 games. The lead over the Astros is down to two games. It’s not so much that panic has set in as a grim sense of fatalism. Of course this was going to happen.

For my part, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have even mentioned such a thing in jest.

Yes, that actually happened

The Mariners failed to score in the first 14 innings of their three-game series against the AL East-leading Orioles.

Seattle managed just a single run in the first 22 innings of the series until Julio Rodriguez hit a solo homer in the fifth on Thursday. The Mariners actually managed to score runs in a way that resembled a respectable major-league lineup.

Well, OK, so their second run scored when Ryan Bliss grounded into a double play.

But J.P. Crawford hit a bases-clearing double in the seventh and Mitch Garver had a two-run homer as Seattle beat Baltimore 7-3 to halt a four-game losing streak and salvage1 the final game of the series.

July-o? 

I mentioned that Julio Rodriguez homered in the fifth inning to account for Seattle’s first run on Thursday. He did so on an 0-2 pitch. It was his first home run since June 15. 

Perhaps even more importantly, he hit a seventh-inning double that registered 113 mph off the bat, making it one of the hardest-hit balls he’s had this season. It was also only his second double since May 12. Yeah. You read that right. May 12. I saw Larry Stone, The Seattle Times retired columnist, Tweet that on Wednesday and I had to go check it myself.

Rodriguez had exactly one double in a span of 46 games. That’s more than one-quarter of the season! Look, I don’t know where Rodriguez’s power went. I don’t know if this is one of those off years that even the best players in baseball occasionally have or I should start worrying that his average, slugging percentage and OPS have all slid over the course of his three years in the big leagues while strikeouts are rising.

Here’s what I do know:

  • The Mariners made a really big bet with Rodriguez, signing him to that mammoth extension.

  • It was an incredibly safe bet as far as those nine-figure contracts go.

  • I absolutely love the way Julio plays the game (except for his base running). I root for him without reservation. 

I hope he gets hotter than fish grease the second half of the season just like he did last year only this time it starts in July instead of August.

Don’t get your dobber too far down

Look, I know it’s easy to assume the worst from the Seattle Mariners. This franchise has given us plenty of reasons to believe that not only is the glass half-empty, but it’s about to be emptied atop our collective heads.

However, I do feel compelled to point out that Seattle is 48-41. There are only two seasons over the past 20 years in which the Mariners have had a better record at this point:

  • 2007, Seattle was 51-38

  • 2018, Seattle was 56-32

My point is not to say that we — as Mariners fans — should be grateful because it has so often been worse. It is to point out that Seattle has not yet buried itself. The Mariners are not (necessarily) doomed.

They have their head slightly above water despite being one of the worst-hitting teams in the league. I believe that they will hit better over the final three months of the season if only because it’s really difficult to imagine them hitting worse.

I would also like to point out how similar Seattle’s record is now to the past three seasons:

  • 2023, Seattle was 45-44

  • 2022, Seattle was 47-42

  • 2021, Seattle was 47-42

The difference this time is that Seattle is in the division lead. That puts the Mariners in better position to qualify for the postseason, and it should increase the urgency to make trade acquisitions whether it be short-term rentals or long-term plays.

Seattle’s front office has shown that at this level of spending: It can field a team that puts itself in position to (potentially) make the playoffs. This constitutes progress compared to the tenures of GMs Bavasi and Zduriencik. It is not the destination, though, and if the Mariners don’t make significant additions over the remainder of this month, it will be evidence that the people who run this team are:

a) cowardly

or

b) cheap

OR

c) both cowardly and cheap

Do something. I’m begging you.

 

1  Note to self: Add “salvage” to my The Apostrophian’s Sports Dictionary. In much the same way blitzes are forever being “dialed up” and overworked bullpens are “taxed,” the word “salvage” is invariably applied to a situation in which a baseball team winning the final game of a series that otherwise resembled a steaming bag of poop.

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