The weekend series in NYY was played at the level of an ALCS. Just great baseball, all the way through. The M's lost by the odd run, but they put up a tremendous struggle.
Against terrific pitching, the Mariners took long looks at the ball and swung at few sucker pitches. They swung the bats with authority, fouled off tough pitches and forced some long at-bats. They consistently put plans together at the plate. The M's offense ... it's like Dudley Moore told Liza Minelli when his mom threw him out of the house and they inspected a slum on their new wages. "With some paint and TLC, this place could be a SLOPHOLE!"
Nah. Maybe it was the break, or maybe it was new determination, or maybe Dr. D's addled mind just can't "see" baseball any more, but the M's hitters looked brand new. With three exceptions: Logan Morrison looked terrible on some guess swings, notably a 2-2 wipeout by Tanaka. Nelson Cruz is still not seeing the ball well. And Mike Zunino still isn't ready to hit in the bigs. Other than that, base-for-base they played the Yankee$ even steven. In this context, that's a little like saying you went to Lambeau Field in December and played the Packers into an overtime.
The extra rest on Masahiro Tanaka's elbow tendon had him throwing 93 MPH and when a NPB All-Star has his game on, you're lucky to score at all. You get 5 hits, 2 walks and 2 homers against a guy like that on a Grade A outing, good on yer.
Michael Pineda was sloppy by his own standards, which made him what ... just a $20M starter or something. The M's drew 2 walks, bloating his yearly total to 15, and fanned only 2 times. Told you they were putting together pro AB's.
C.C. Sabathia is no longer a great pitcher, but on Sunday that big ol' dude pitched great. B'lee DAT. He spotted his slider at will, threw 21-of-25 sinkers for strikes, and generally spent one day reprising Cliff Lee. The only guy who could hit him was Jesus Montero, who put together an "I Am Amused By the Simplicity of This Game" walk in his first ups ... Sabathia gave up on suckering him and resorted to painting the black. Montero resorted to blistering line drives straight at the RF for two more hits.
Luckily, the Tigers' current SP's are not known for being Max Scherzer. These next four games, given the seismo's of better swings, we will be watching the M's hitters with great interest.
"Tipping your cap" to the New York Yankee$ only goes so far, we know, we know. But Dr. D also heard some stat like there are only 21 games left on the sked against winning teams. And the Tigers' ERA's the next four games average like 5.00. Or something.
The Mariners' problem was not these three games. It was the 89 games before them, which put them in a -8 games hole to the Angels. -10 out is "forget this shtick" territory. Game 90 was not the right time to start putting together pro at bats. In SSI's world, we're about four lousy games away from Sell Mode.
But in any case, I like watching sports, and baseball especially, and teams that fight especially-especially. Bill James once said, "I believe in watching the kids figure things out. Hanging in through the losing, makes the winning more fun."