84-74, Eliminated from AL WEST, 2.0 GB in AL WILD CARD ----
Straight out of the get go on Wednesday afternoon in Houston, our M's piled runs left and right on Astros' defense to secure a series finale win and stay within playoff contentions. I, Tom Hayden, live on the east coast as I cover everything about the Seattle Mariners. This game on Wednesday had a first pitch start time of 2:10 PM ET, so I was still just finishing up classes when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket indicating that the ball game had started. As soon as classes finished up for the day, I packed up all my stuff in a hurry so I could get out to my car and listen to the game. Knowing how important these final games are of the 2016 season are for our Mariners, my phone then vibrated in my pocket again as I was in the parking lot of my school. "Robinson Canó hits a 3-run home run to left, Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith score" is what I would read next. As I drove home listening to the rest of the first couple of innings, it hit me how good this ball club is, and that they really have a good enough ball club to not only make the playoffs, but win in them. Obviously, covering the Seattle Mariners for the whole year, I knew this was a special ball club, but it was at that moment that I realized that they could really be in this thing called the Post-Season, and do well in them. We have to actually get there first though, and it's all going to start with what we witnessed on Wednesday afternoon in Houston. With this HUGE 12-4 win over the 'Stros, the Mariners are now at their tie for a season-high 10 games over .500 at 84-74 on the season so far with 4 games left to play. For an that second American League Wild Card spot, the Mariners are 2.0 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. If our M's win the next 4 games, we'll have a good chance at getting in.
Offensively on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, our M's combined to put up an IMPRESSIVE 12 runs on 15 hits off of Houston pitching. 2B Robinson Canó (.299 AVG) got things started with a 3-RUN BLAST to left in the top of the first inning for his 36th home run of the season and 95th, 96th, 97th RBIs to date! LF Norichika Aoki (.277 AVG) went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI and 2 runs scored. Aoki connected for 2 singles in the ball game for his 26th RBI of the season. RF Seth Smith (.254 AVG) went 1-for-2 at the plate with a 2-RBI single. Smith now has a solid 63 RBI on the season. CF Leonys Martin (.247 AVG), snapped out of a slump on Wednesday afternoon with BIG hits, and because of that, is my pick for Mariners Player of the Game. Martin went 3-for-4 on the day with 3 runs scored and an RBI single for his 45th RBI of the season. C Mike Zunino (.208 AVG) went 1-for-4 at the dish with an RBI double in this one. The RBI was Zunino's 30th of the year and the double was his 7th. SS Ketel Marte (.260 AVG) had a good day at the bottom of the lineup for Seattle going 2-for-5 with 2 singles and a RBI. The RBI was Marte's 32nd on the year so far. 3B Kyle Seager (.281 AVG) put on a performance in this one going 2-for-3 at the plate with a single and 3-RUN BLAST in the top of the eighth inning to help seal this Mariners win! The home run was Kyle Seager's 30th of the season, and the 3 RBI day now gives him 99 RBI to date. Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz, and Robinson Canó are the first set of Mariners to each hit 30 or more home runs in a single season (this year- 2016) since Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, and Paul Sorrento did so in the year 1997. (Griffey Jr.- 56 HR, Buhner- 40 HR, Sorrento- 31 HR in that 1997 Seattle Mariners' season).
On the mound on Wednesday afternoon in Houston, LHP James Paxton took the ball for what was his 20th start even on the year, and what was his last scheduled start of the regular season. If the M's manage to make the Wild Card game or a Wild Card play-in game, J Pax will be our guy! On Wednesday afternoon in Houston, Paxton went 5.0 innings giving up just 3 runs on 6 hits (3 earned) while walking 1 and striking out an impressive 8 Astros on the day! Paxton earned himself his 6th win of the season for the performance, so he should wind down with a grand individual W-L record of 6-7 for himself in the 2016 season with an ERA of 3.79 in just over 120.0 innings pitched. For a guy who didn't even make the 2016 opening day roster, that is a very good thing to see. In relief in this one, RHP Nick Vincent (3.70 ERA) immediately came in to toss the sixth inning. Vincent did' last long out there however as he pitched to just 3 batters in the inning giving up 1 run on 3 hits (run earned). RHP Evan Scribner (0.00 ERA) continues to keep a blank ERA as he struck out 2 and gave up just 1 hit in 2.0 innings of work. Scribner got himself his 3rd hold of the season in the great outing. RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (6.80 ERA) went 1.0 inning giving up 1 hit. RHP Dan Altavilla (0.82 ERA) then tossed the entirety of the ninth inning for a blank frame!
WHAT'S NEXT? :
The Final Series. The Mariners will square off with the AL WEST rival Oakland Athletics back home in Seattle for a 4-game weekend series to wrap up the 2016 regular season. Looking to get this series started on the right foot will be LHP Ariel Miranda (5-2, 3.79 ERA) who will be making his 12th appearance and 10th start of the season for Seattle. Miranda and the M's are set and ready to face OAK RHP Kendall Graveman (10-11, 4.07 ERA). Be sure to catch all of the action on ROOT Sports NW for watching or listen in on 710 ESPN Seattle Radio! First pitch start time is scheduled for 7:10 PM PAC, 10:10 PM ET! Let's pack Safeco Field this weekend Seattle!
This is Tom Hayden signing off saying Go Mariners! Stay #TrueToTheBlue as our M's #KeepFighting for the PostSEAson.