It’s a bit of a puzzle, but the Seattle Mariners continued to be a better team on the road in August, taking their third straight road series, this time taking three of four games from the Houston Astros. True, it was the Houston Astros, but in their three straight road series wins, Seattle won every series against A.L. West opponents. It’s a good sign, being able to win series on the road against division opponents, the opponents you see the most on an unbalanced schedule. The Mariners moved up to 62-74, hoping for a hot September to make that final push to .500. To go .500, Seattle would have to finish 19-7 in their last twenty-six games.
The biggest difference between this series and the Mariners’ previous six-game slide was the return of dominant starting pitching. Over the four game series, the Astros only put up six runs. The young duo of Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker, making his major league debut, stop the Mariners’ six-game losing skid with wins on Thursday and Friday. Ramirez moved to 5-1 on the season with a 3-2 win Tuesday holding the Astros to five hits and two ER over 5.2 IP. Walker then made an impressive debut in a 7-1 win on Friday. He led the Astros to two hits and one unearned run in five innings pitched. Joe Saunders then won his first start in his last five making three early runs hold up for a 3-1 win on Saturday. Saunders, 11-13 on the season, allowed six hits and one unearned run over 5.1 IP. Going for the sweep, Hisashi Iwakuma threw seven shut out innings but a lack of run support gave Houston a 2-0 win to avoid the sweep. Over the series, Mariners starters gave up only 2 ER in 23 innings of work. Using this dominant pitching as a spring board, the Mariners took three of four series.
The Mariners, quiet at the trading deadline, made a trade that went through waivers on Friday sending Michael Morse to Baltimore for Xavier Avery. Avery, 23, spilt time in-between Baltimore’s double AA and triple AAA teams batting .259 with 29 SBs in 37 attempts. With the improvement of Seattle’s young outfielders, in particular Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley, the Mariners must have felt they weren’t going to bring Morse back after this season. Since he is going to be a free agent, the Mariners took something over nothing. Morse, plagued by injuries, had a disappointing 2013 hitting .226 with 13 HR and 27 RBI. I understand the move, but what looked like a slam-dunk trade in the off-season became a losing proposition for Seattle. In a three-team deal, the Mariners traded John Jaso to Oakland. Seattle could’ve really used Jaso this season behind the plate, as Seattle has had a revolving door at C right now behind held down by two players picked up off of waivers: Henry Blanco (.149-3 HR-14 RBI) and Humberto Quintero (.244-4 HR-13 RBI). The catcher position is definitely a question mark going into next season with top prospect Mike Zunino (.242-2 HR-10 RBI) having battled some injury issues and Jesus Montero (.208-3 HR-9 RBI) having his status in question after serving a suspension in the Biogenesis scandal and being sent to Tacoma before that. Zunino will return to Seattle today for the Kansas City series, and the catcher’s spot should be his to win for 2014.