After what looked like the start of a waste of a season, the Seattle Mariners fought back from the edge of desperation and captured three important wins against division rivals Texas this last weekend.
The Mariners came alive this weekend at home, playing up to their potential for the first time this season. The M’s held an explosive Texas team to one run in the first two games, and rallied in the bottom of ninth inning in the series finale to capture a walk-off win and secure the sweep.
Three wins in a row is huge in itself, but the sweep signified much more for the ‘Ners, as several players broke out in key ways. Mariners’ rookie Mitch Haniger hit his fourth home run of the season and robbed a home run in yesterday’s 8-7 victory, and had 5 RBIs for the series. James Paxton had the best start in the MLB so far on Saturday, allowing just two hits, one walk, and zero runs in eight innings. With their stellar play, Haniger and Paxton have given life to the Mariners.
Haniger and Paxton were key this series, but M’s fans should be almost more excited to see perennial stars Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez play like themselves again. Cruz had a .184 BA and zero home runs entering the series against Texas, and came away at the end of the weekend with .229 average, his first dinger, and a walk-off infield single on Sunday, a huge improvement and step in the right direction for an integral part of the Mariners’ roster. Felix wasn’t having a horrible start to the season, but picking up his first win of the season was huge for the King, who allowed only one run in 7.1 innings on Friday.
So far, other than Haniger and Paxton, no one seems to be playing anywhere near their full potential right now, which believe it or not, is a good sign.
So long as the M’s can stay afloat until they get into a good rhythm, they have a good chance to make a run at their first AL West title since 2001. With the Texas sweep in their back pocket, the swagger should be turned up a notch going forward, now that they know they can win.
The Mariners have an opportunity to get back to .500 with another sweep this week of the Miami Marlins, but will need new starters Ariel Miranda (Monday night starter) and Yovanni Gallardo (Tuesday night starter) to have good starts to make it happen.
The M’s saved themselves from a complete nightmare start, but need to continue to improve to live up to this season’s big expectations.