Game 101, Astros at Mariners

marc w · July 26, 2021 at 6:04 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Darren McCaughan vs. Luis Garcia, 7:10pm

What did the M’s big series win over the A’s get them? It improved their playoff odds at the margins, sure, but it gave a real shot in the arm to the team’s confidence, and, perhaps just as critically, it gave them some breathing room. I’m sure the clubhouse is all-in for this series against Houston, but winning against the A’s means the M’s don’t absolutely NEED to win this one. They can catch their breath and do something they haven’t had the opportunity to do in a few years: do some scoreboard watching.

Darren McCaughan’s back after a bizarre but effective MLB debut in Colorado. Opposing him is Luis Garcia, the latest break-out prospect from the Astros taking the league by storm. Garcia has a straight, rising fastball at 93 – it looks a bit like Logan Gilbert’s or Yusei Kikuchi’s, though it’s not as firm as either of those guys’. But his secondaries are a pitch design wonderland. His slider swerves *hard* to the gloveside, and gets unreal sink at 80 mph. It’s slurvey in the best sense, a two-plane breaking ball that’s like a super-hard curve, kind of like his teammate Lance McCullers’. Then, he’s got a change-up with extreme *arm*side run and some sink compared to that fastball. It’s slightly harder at 83, and it helps him keep lefties in check. Then, his out-pitch: a hard (86 mph) cutter than sinks sharply, making it work almost like a split to lefties. It’s got some gloveside movement, so it’s clearly a breaking ball, but a hard pitch breaking down 8″ lower than the fastball… that’s going to play, and it’s been highly effective for Garcia this year.

Joe Sheehan‘s newsletter today focused on the M’s and their remarkable clutch stats. This is something I’ve talked about beginning in April, but Sheehan found some stats that blew my mind. Baseball Reference splits pages compare a team’s performance to the league average, which is helpful, but also to the team’s own performance. By this latter measure, the M’s high-leverage batting line of .277/.348/.494 is the best in MLB history since integration. The M’s overall batting line, as I talked about in the last post, is atrocious, with the club sporting a sub-.300 OBP, driven by a terrible batting average. They seem to lull the opposition into a sense of calm by being so utterly *bad* at hitting. Until the game’s on the line, whereupon they hit like an All-Star. It’s not driven by one player, and it hasn’t really changed since the first few series of the season. At least for 2021, this is just *who they are* and if this isn’t entertaining, I don’t know what is. I remember watching the Texas Rangers in 2016 and going crazy because they were outplaying their true talent without any real reason why. The shoe is on the other foot now; the Rangers are coming off one of the worst 10-game stretches in history, and the M’s shrug-emoji their way to victory after victory. Yes, the bullpen’s unreal performance is driving their record in one-run games, but they have to score some runs, too. They always seem to score exactly as many runs as they need, and I, for one, find this perplexing and delightful in equal measure. The Mariners! Lucky!? What is this?

There are serious questions about the Other Shoe Dropping, not just in 2021, but how this sets up the team’s contention in 2022. I realize that, just as I realize – boy do I – Jarred Kelenic’s “batting” line. I just choose to focus on the random, wonderful brand of baseball the M’s are playing right now, and suggest you do the same.

1: Crawford, SS
2: Haniger, RF
3: Seager, 3B
4: France, DH
5: Raleigh, C
6: Torrens, 1B
7: Kelenic, CF
8: Long, 2B
9: Bauers, LF
SP: McCaughan


5 Responses to “Game 101, Astros at Mariners”

  1. Stevemotivateir on July 26th, 2021 6:47 pm

    Weird time to test Torrens’ ability to handle 1B. I get the LHH-heavy approach, I just hope Houston doesn’t exploit the defense on the right side of the infield.

  2. Stevemotivateir on July 26th, 2021 7:26 pm


  3. Stevemotivateir on July 26th, 2021 10:52 pm


  4. Sportszilla on July 26th, 2021 11:08 pm

    Too wired to sleep and I couldn’t care less! Not sure there have been many better wins in the last two decades.

  5. Goob on July 27th, 2021 8:40 am

    “The Mariners! Lucky!? What is this?”

    It’s freaking amazing!!!! ?

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