The Seattle Mariners (24-26) have faced a tough stretch of pitching over the last two series, facing four of the top 10 American League strikeout leaders over their last five games.
Still, for a team that many national analysts and talking heads predicted to reach the World Series, the Mariners have to do better.
After a disappointing series loss in Baltimore, Seattle went on to win 2 out of 3 games in Toronto and followed that with a three game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays.
King Felix delivered arguably his best performance of the season last Wednesday by throwing his first complete game shutout, allowing just four hits with eight strikeouts. He improved to 8-1 on the season with the win.
The Mariners had struggled at the plate for most of the night, mustering just 2 hits through eight innings with 12 strikeouts. A 3 run homerun by Nelson Cruz broke the tie in the top of the ninth, giving the Mariners a 3-0 win and their third series sweep this year.
In true Mariners fashion, any momentum from the sweep was quickly lost when Seattle lost 3 out of 4 games to Cleveland upon returning home from the nine-game road trip.
The first road bump came in game one of the series, when reigning American League Cy Young winner Corey Kluber struck out 13 batters in his seven innings of work. Seattle was able to get a few runs off of a Mike Zunino and Dustin Ackley home runs, but it wasn’t enough. M’s lose 5-3.
Making matters worse, Mariners pitcher James Paxton had to leave the game in the fourth inning after straining a ligament in his middle finger on his throwing hand. Paxton had been pitching well in May, throwing 20 straight scoreless innings heading into the Thursday, May 28 game.
“I’m trying to stay positive,” Paxton said. “I’ve just got to do my best to let it rest and get back as soon as possible.”
Paxton was placed on the 15-day disabled list and will be re-evaluated in two weeks time.
“It’s a tough loss,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “To think that we’ve lost our No. 2 and No. 3 starters, that’s tough. But in this game, nobody feels sorry for you. You have to make the adjustments. You have to take the stand: Next man up. Let’s go.”
Mike Montgomery will likely get the call up from Triple A Tacoma to start in Paxton’s place.
Despite losing the series, the Mariners had at least one bright spot. Rookie Taijuan Walker pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing just two hits with eight strikeouts. The M’s would go on to win 2-1, with the lone run coming off of closer Fernando Rodney.
The Mariners would go on to lose games three and four of the series by final scores of 4-3 and 6-3, respectively. The Mariners host the Yankees this week, wrapping up a stretch of 16 straight games.
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A northwest native, AJ is a returning college student finishing his journalism degree. He loves everything Seattle sports, and plans to carry that enthusiasm into the sports section of the Spectator this year.