Game 157, Mariners at Astros

marc w · September 27, 2016 at 4:26 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Mike Fiers, 5:10pm

Happy Felix Day. Yes, Felix wasn’t at his best the last time he had a must-win game against these Astros, but hey, he bounced back in his next start. The M’s finally won a game started by Collin McHugh last night – now they need their ace to show he’s ready to dominate this Houston club.

I really thought they’d blown it. The M’s odds of winning were well over 90% in the top of the 9th, but after Edwin Diaz stumbled, the *Astros* odds surged to over 80%. Just look at the win probability chart:
win prob

Even after Cano’s HR, when the Astros got two on in the bottom of the inning, I thought it’d happen again. This is what being a fan for a long time does to you; even in your moments of triumph, you’re looking around, waiting to see how it’s going to be taken away from you, waiting to see who’s going to ruin it. The M’s have done what they absolutely needed to do these past two games, and while the last homestand pushed them to the brink, the M’s got some help in recent days from the Indians and Yankees. They’re somehow not out of it yet. And that’s why something like tonight’s Indians line-up in Detroit hurts more than it should. The Indians clinched the central the other day, so their line-up today (as pointed out by Bob Dutton) looks like a split-squad game in the first week of March. Someone named Michael Martinez is starting and batting 2nd; he’s had 570+ PAs, and has a career wRC+ of 36. Jesus Aguilar is the 1st baseman, and good old Abe Almonte is hitting 3rd and starting in an OF corner. Another former Mariner, one-time #1 prospect Adam Moore, starts at catcher. This is entirely appropriate for a team that’s already won the league, but it can’t help but feel like trolling.

Realistically, the M’s need to go about 5-1 to have a chance. That’d put them at 88 wins, right where Baltimore would end up if they go 3-3. They’ve got the Jays to deal with now (who are definitely not at the let’s-just-start-some-prospects stage) and then finish with New York. Detroit finishes with the Braves, so they have a shot at matching a 4-2, 5-1 run by the M’s, but it’d be tough. A tie would be fascinating, of course, and while I’m not sure it’d play to the M’s strengths, I think it’d be very rough on Baltimore, a team that might need to give critical, one-game-playoff-type innings to Wade Miley.*

Mike Fiers just shut the M’s down in Seattle 10 days ago. The underpowered righty has a 90mph fastball with tons of rise that he pairs with one of the biggest breaking curve balls in the game. The two pitches differ in vertical movement by about 2 *feet*. His curve’s been tough to hit in recent games, which is good for Fiers, because he’s struggled a bit with his fastball. Not against the M’s, of course, but Fiers can be homer-prone. He’s also got a decent change-up, and his arsenal’s been quite good against left-handed bats- Fiers has reverse splits this year and for his career. In about 570 career IP, lefties have a .302 wOBA against Fiers while righties are up at .323.

1: Aoki, LF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lind, 1B
7: Martin, CF
8: Sucre, C
9: Marte, SS
SP: El Cartelua

Every year, someone comes up and posts a bonkers slash line in a handful of plate appearances and either makes fans irrationally hopeful about his subsequent season, or causes fans (and teams!) to think that a veteran made some critical adjustment. Think Bloomquist’s M’s debut, or Abe Almonte’s last month in 2013 – for a slightly less cynical take, there was Jose Bautista’s final month of 2009, when he went from journeyman to JOSE BAUTISTA and hasn’t stopped all-caps’ing since. I don’t think anyone’s going to suggest that Jesus Sucre get the bulk of the playing time next year, but Sucre is, against all odds, hitting .500/.560/.727. No, it doesn’t mean anything, but Sweet Jesus has a quarter of his career XBH in his last 2 games. Yes, it’s a miniscule sample, but it’s also *Jesus Sucre*. The guy’s had plenty of small samples and his best SLG% in the majors was the .246 mark he managed in 2014. This is that rare and wonderful intersection of baffling and fun.

* This is similar to Baltimore in 2012, which rallied to win a wild card and had to turn to Joe Saunders in a one-game, do-or-die contest in Arlington. Saunders won that game, and earned himself a contract from the M’s in the off-season. That went somewhat less well than the WC game.


30 Responses to “Game 157, Mariners at Astros”

  1. Alec on September 27th, 2016 5:11 pm

    > even in your moments of triumph, you’re looking around, waiting to see how it’s going to be taken away from you, waiting to see who’s going to ruin it.

    I totally relate, but for me, it’s made me assume that we’ll miss the playoffs in the last game of the season after Aoki runs into Martin and the ball bounces off his head for a walkoff homer.

  2. Alec on September 27th, 2016 5:14 pm

    Also, it’s been somewhat surreal for our catchers to suddenly become an actual offensive weapon completely out of nowhere after the post-Kenji years. Without actually adding any, you know, new catchers.

  3. Alec on September 27th, 2016 5:52 pm

    For anyone who hasn’t seen it, The Ringer did a piece on the playoff race if teams in it were allowed to draft players from teams with below 20% shots at it. Unfortunately, that meant we were a draft team, but had they (correctly) written it as teams that are still in it can draft players whose teams are not, imagine this team with Joey Votto or Freddie Freeman (we’d have the 4th pick after KC, HOU, and NYY – and regardless, pretty sure they’d be our biggest potential upgrades if we can’t grab Mike Trout).

  4. Milendriel on September 27th, 2016 6:16 pm

    Yeah, I’d take Votto–he’s hit .409/.498/.655 since the All-Star Break.

  5. djw on September 27th, 2016 7:09 pm

    Ugh Marte. Flip that to Cano! He’s got a stronger and more accurate arm than you!

  6. JMB on September 27th, 2016 7:13 pm

    Frickin’ Marte. I’m over it.

  7. JMB on September 27th, 2016 7:14 pm

    This inning needs to end, post haste.

  8. djw on September 27th, 2016 7:15 pm

    I think he’s out, but I’m not sure it’s “clear and convincing”

  9. JMB on September 27th, 2016 7:16 pm

    Agree. Not enough to overturn.

  10. JMB on September 27th, 2016 7:17 pm

    Are you kidding me? Sigh.

  11. djw on September 27th, 2016 7:17 pm


  12. JMB on September 27th, 2016 7:20 pm

    See you next year I guess.

  13. WTF_Ms on September 27th, 2016 7:21 pm

    Shit on a stick. Felix again gives up too many to hep himself and the MGR leaves him in too long.

  14. Grayfox3d on September 27th, 2016 7:27 pm

    Well it was fun while it lasted! To a degree I mean… that 8 game losing streak killed most of the hope long before this game tonight.

  15. ripperlv on September 27th, 2016 7:29 pm

    Are you kidding me. WTF Servais, even I knew to take Felix out with a huge fresh bullpen. I think you just blew the season, if t even existed. What a moron!

  16. Notfromboise on September 27th, 2016 7:35 pm

    Let’s not panic just yet. We are hitting the ball well today and already 2 bodies deep into the Astros’ bullpen.

    Baltimore lost today. We escape tonight with a victory we are one effing game out of the wildcard with 5 to play. All of Baltimore’s games are on the road, against teams that want to beat them (Toronto, Yankees). In fact, Toronto most likely faces Baltimore in the one game playoff, so they have all the reason in the world to make sure they win and get home field, instead of trusting the yankees to be competitive.

    Side note : If we tied with Baltimore or KC, we would host the one-game playoff (to get into the one game playoff.. heh). Sadly, we lost the series to Detroit.

    ed note: OK, that two-run single hurt. We got 3 more innings here. And only having to tie Baltimore to play a one game tiebreaker in Safeco kinda put some wind back in my sails.

  17. Notfromboise on September 27th, 2016 7:37 pm

    PS this feels like the kind of stupid stomach-punch game that wakes Adam Lind from his slumber to hit a completely unexpected 3-run late-inning jack.

    You know, a gift from the Baseball Gods.

  18. JMB on September 27th, 2016 7:38 pm

    WTF Cruz. That pitch was nowhere close.

  19. Bwilliam on September 27th, 2016 7:41 pm

    All I want for Christmas is a Major League SS.

  20. Notfromboise on September 27th, 2016 7:53 pm

    I agree, Bwilliam. I’d settle for one who can get some runs back with the bat, if Ketel happens to be reading this.

    This could literally be over before we even get Cano and Co. back up to the plate, thats the scary part.

  21. Westside guy on September 27th, 2016 7:55 pm

    Just came in. Did Felix have another sub-King game, or did Marte commit an 8-run error?

  22. Notfromboise on September 27th, 2016 7:58 pm

    Yes and Yes. Hargrove left Pedro on the mound a bit long… Err you get the idea. Marte pushed the snowball downhill and the Astros strung together 6 runs on weak contact and pure spite.

    Coming up in the 9th:



  23. JMB on September 27th, 2016 8:06 pm


    Not any better.

  24. Westside guy on September 28th, 2016 11:17 am

    As bad as this will probably sound – I hope Felix has been dealing with some nagging injury but not telling the team.

    Because I’m not ready for the alternative explanation.

  25. mrakbaseball on September 28th, 2016 2:04 pm

    Good win for the Mariners today. They close out the Tal’s Hill era in Houston by beating the Astros.

  26. eponymous coward on September 28th, 2016 2:24 pm

    4-2 over a 6 game road trip? That’s… not terrible. Might not get it done, though. It’s the 2-4 homestand (and 1-2 against the Blue Jays) that’s going to kill them if they fall short.

    The problem is that Detroit finishes with 3 at Atlanta, so they get an NL weak sister to match our AL weak sister.

  27. Mid80sRighty on September 28th, 2016 4:34 pm

    And that’s why the M’s need Cleveland to beat up on Detroit tonight.

  28. mrakbaseball on September 28th, 2016 6:03 pm

    If there is a positive with the Tigers playing at the Braves, is that they lose the DH.

  29. JMB on September 28th, 2016 8:53 pm

    Also–and I know this only because I live in Atlanta–the Braves have been playing good baseball lately. They’re not the pushovers they were to start the season. They’ve been playing .500 ball for almost two months now.

  30. mrakbaseball on September 28th, 2016 9:02 pm

    Detroit wins a 5-inning game. That doesn’t help.

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