Game 157, Athletics at Mariners – Let Chaos Reign

marc w · September 27, 2021 at 6:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Flexen vs. Cole Irvin, 7:10pm

Ok, six games left, and the M’s are 2 back of the 2nd wildcard after the Yankees swept the Red Sox. The M’s finish with three against the A’s, and then three against the Angels. The Blue Jays and Yankees square off for three, and then the Jays finish up against Baltimore (darn), while the Yankees face Tampa. Boston finishes with three against Baltimore (darn) and three against Washington (darn). It’s the Yankees WC to lose at this point, but they’ve clearly got the toughest schedule. Boston can get right again with their schedule, and the M’s is in between.

Given that there are two teams ahead of them, and that both of those teams play the Orioles, the M’s realistically need to go 5-1 to have any real shot at this, and 6-0 wouldn’t guarantee anything. But it IS nice to have meaningful games here in late September, and to feel motivated to look up rival teams’ schedules. It’s a reminder that every game can and should matter, meaning that teams that manipulate service time might be harming themselves. I’d lambast the M’s for manipulating Jarred Kelenic’s time a bit more if he didn’t end up getting sent down again anyway, but still.

I always want to see the M’s act like the games matter, and not just use it as a marketing push for this final homestand. Today, they may be showing signs of doing that. As we talked about earlier, the M’s still haven’t announced who’ll start tomorrow night. They put out a series of pitching probables that had Yusei Kikuchi penciled in for it, but they’ve admitted to the beat writers that it’s currently TBD, fueling more suspicion that the M’s will throw caution to the wind and bring in Matt Brash to start, or at least get some innings in. But, that may all depend on how much work their bullpen gets tonight: if their bullpen gets worked hard tonight, they may not want to throw Brash out there. To shore up that pen, the M’s made the zwischenzug* or in-between move of calling up Wyatt Mills from Tacoma and optioning Justus Sheffield. This gives the M’s another arm for tonight, and might pave the way for Brash to be called up to make the start tomorrow.

Chris Flexen just dominated the A’s in this same fixture five days ago, so he’s as good a bet as the M’s have to work deep into the game. A’s starter Cole Irvin once (rather accurately) demeaned the M’s offense, saying “a team like that should not be putting up 10 hits against me or anyone,” after a May game. Irvin has now made four starts against Seattle, the team with the lowest batting average in the majors. He’s taken the loss in each of those starts, and the M’s are hitting a cool .377 against him with an OPS over .950. Maybe they shouldn’t be putting up a ton of hits against you, but you keep allowing them to, so….

The A’s are still alive and kicking in the wildcard race themselves, but of course they have the toughest road, and they’ll need to do it without Elvis Andrus, who picked up an injury the other day. The A’s are where they are in large part due to their inability to beat Seattle. They’ve dominated the Angels, and played the Astros quite tough, but they’re 4-12 against Seattle. A big part of *that* has been the performance of their bullpen. In this recent stretch of the A’s being a perennial playoff contender, a great bullpen has been a huge key to their success. They’ve never spent a ton of money on it, but between the star turns of Sean Doolittle, Grant Balfour and then Liam Hendriks to the initial success from guys like Lou Trivino or Blake Treinen to the consistency of Yusmeiro Petit, they’ve had depth and quality. But the magic’s mostly gone now.

The A’s bullpen has the lowest K/9 in the American League, and 29th out of 30 in MLB. They’ve turned into a team that plays to its ballpark’s strengths, as they have the lowest GB% in the league, and thus a very low BABIP-allowed. The problem is that they don’t always play in Oakland, and so their approach of “throw it in the zone and allow elevated contact” doesn’t always work – some times, even in Oakland, their closer gives up two HRs in an inning to the Mariners.

1: Crawford, SS
2: France, 1B
3: Haniger, RF
4: Seager, 3B
5: Torrens, DH
6: Toro, 2B
7: Kelenic, CF
8: Murphy, C
9: Moore, LF
SP: Flexen

Tacoma destroyed Round Rock 8-3 last night, getting homers from Jose Marmolejos and Dillon Thomas. Logan Verrett has been one of the rocks of Tacoma’s staff this year, and he was brilliant for 7 IP. Verrett has tossed 106 IP, and while his ERA’s near 5, that’s pretty good in the freakish offensive environment of the AAA-West. It’s a bullpen day today in Round Rock in the final road game of the year. As Mike Curto notes, they finish off the year with a series against Salt Lake, where Tacoma’s Marmolejos faces off with the Bees’ Michael Stefanic for the AAA-West batting title. Marmo’s got the edge going into tonight .350 to Stefanic’s .346.

* I’ve watched a lot of chess during the pandemic.


4 Responses to “Game 157, Athletics at Mariners – Let Chaos Reign”

  1. Stevemotivateir on September 27th, 2021 8:03 pm

    Flexen has been great at home, largely because his HR/9 coming into tonight’s game was just 0.57.

    So, of course he gives up a 3-run bomb early.

  2. MKT on September 27th, 2021 8:27 pm

    “It’s a reminder that every game can and should matter”

    Which why I’m still mad at the M’s for their idiotic decision to keep trotting Montero to the mound as their closer, resulting in two horrendous, never-should-happen losses. They sure would be in a better position now with two more wins and two fewer losses.

    I don’t have access to scouting reports or video analysis. Obviously the M’s saw something in the off-season and pre-season that made them think that Montero was suitable as a closer.

    But whatever they saw, it clearly did not work when the season started. Montero started out bad and stayed that way with three bad performances in his first six appearances, and after a disastrous late April game he should’ve been relegated to low leverage innings. But no, the M’s kept sending him out there and he kept blowing leads until the June 12 debacle when even the M’s finally recognized what they should’ve done one-and-a-half months and two unnecessary meltdown losses earlier: don’t make a guy with a 7.27 ERA your closer.

  3. Stevemotivateir on September 27th, 2021 9:25 pm

    ^I’m more upset that the budget was so tight that they had to trade for a closer and failed to sign a single fielder.

  4. Stevemotivateir on September 27th, 2021 9:55 pm

    Can’t beat the Tigers, but the A’s and the Rays…

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