All props to Maniger for his fortitude first returning from a disastrous, and potentially season-ending oblique injury (see list of MLBers needing alot longer to recover from that, especially hitters) AND later recovering, apparently, from getting drilled in the face (see list of MLBers that affected i.e. Conigliaro, Cowlings, etc.). The kid's got guts, ecstatic he's ours. And should be for a long time, Lord willing.
If you were to assume a Twins fade at all -- even assume they went 8-10 or something -- then in your assumption world, the Mariners would be only -1 game out of the WC2 with 20 games to play. True, that stipulates that the Mariners don't control their own fate. But it's hardly a stretch of the imagination for Minnesota to have a few issues. They've got the Indians and Yankees left .. he says hopefully.
- Minny +6
- LAA +2
- Tex +1
- Sea =
- Balmer =
- KC -1
- TB -3
If the Twins went .500 then the M's would have to go 13-7, probably, and they'd be in a tiebreaker game. In a lot of scenarios (well, in one scenario, the Twins losing a few) the M's could go 12-8 or so, especially if the 12 were against LAA and Tex. If they can't do that, fine; they don't deserve it then.
It's easier to talk about playing +4 games over .500 from here, than to talk about going +10 games over .500 from here. Two nice wins against the Angels will do that for you. The M's had their back foot crumbling dirt off the cliff edge behind them, but they didn't (yet) fall in.
Felix and Paxton apparently start next week on the road. And it turns out if the Mariners did make the playoffs, that Hisashi Iwakuma would probably be able to pitch. If that perfect storm hit ALCS landfall I'd laugh pretty hard :- )
MAYBE SCIOSCIA ISN'T AS GOOD WITHOUT HIS PRIVATE QUESTEC SIGN-NABBER AT THE BIG A?
The M's crushed the pesky rodent Angels and have the red-hot Erasmo "check out this cutter" Ramirez Sunday. Hey, two days ago we were two days from R.I.P. Now we're four days from R.I.P. Wouldn't that be something if we still weren't dead when James Paxton got back to the mound!
Andrew Albers was excellent, again, this time doing a very fair Mark Beuhrle impersonation. He used just enough sliders and changeups to keep hitters honest about his real weapon, an 88 fastball that was Moyer-fine. Here are three consecutive AB's from the 3rd inning -- the 2nd time around for Brandon Phillips, Mike Trout and Justin Upton.
Against Brandon Phillips it was FB-FB then changeup wide, and FB-FB again. Remember now, the point is, Albers is somehow getting through these hitters ALWAYS keeping his fingers wayyyyy clear of the doggie's mouth:
√ Knee-pounder, just barely low
√ Jam pitch, just barely in (called a strike)
√ sailed a changeup wide and safe
√ Jam pitch, just barely in. Count is 3-1 mostly through bad luck
√ Takes a bit more of the plate, low-away, "pitch to contact" pitcher's pitch, fly out
Next up was the Mike Trout sequence. Again, all fastballs except the curve to the back foot:
√ Paintball on the black, 0-1. Mike Trout doesn't swing at that, first pitch
√ Jam pitch above the hands, nicked the zone, unfair ball, 1-1. Nobody can hit that pitch but Trout especially is weak to high pitches
√ Paintball, high, where Trout doesn't like it. Fouled off 1-2
√ Ladder pitch, nice try, Trout doesn't bite. 2-2
√ Back foot slider, safe attempt
√ Does miss with this fastball; Trout hits a sharp E-6. That's the 1 bad pitch in the whole inning, well, that and the last pitch to Phillips
And Albers ends the inning with a changeup to Justin Upton. Again 3 fastballs mixed with only the 1 changeup:
√ Knee-pounded just a bit low
√ Paintball for called strike 1-1
√ True ladder pitch (3 rungs going up, up, up) changes the eye level, misses, 2-1
√ Upton overeager, Albers throws a change off the plate and Upton rolls it over into a groundout
All of which is what Ultra King Felix(TM) sequences look like ... if you saw them thrown with lousy stuff, that is. Several AB's in a row with nothing really in the strike zone to hit, or maybe just once in a while for laughs.
It is blinkin' HARD WORK to make pure fastball location work like that. Albers has been doing it for the M's so far. Will he continue to do so? Presumably no. There are like 4 pitchers in the world at any time who do. We're just notifying yer that as long as Albers does, he'll win.
Was 15-for-33 coming in. Then he added a homer to LF on a quick little swing, added a triple down the RF line, and smoked a low one-hopper through the right side for three more hits. Right now he's the M's best hitter. Nice to have him back to All-World status.
We aren't dead yet, and yesterday's win gets us out of the Mostly Dead column (barely). But here is the very cool thing, we sort of can get real healthy with a 4 and 1 streak.
Win today and we are just one game back of the Angels. Even if Texas whoops the Yanks, we would still trail the Rangers by just 1/2 game. Tomorrow we start a 4-game series with those very same Rangers. Were we to somehow sneak out a 3-1 record, and our bats are heating up some, then we would be +1.5 on Texas. While we are in Texas, LAA plays the Astros. Make that a 2 & 2 split, and then we've caught and tied Trout and Co.
Minnesota's neCy 5 games are a mish-mash of KC, SD, Toronto. Advantage them, but Doc has been predicting a Twinkie slide for a bit and now would be a great time. All the same, if they go 3-2 we still climb into a position to make them uncomfortable.
if you wanted September baseball that counted, you've got it right now. Scrape out a win today then that flight to Texas is short and laden with anticipation. Oh, Zues and The King are set to return, rumor has it.
Miracle Max Jemanji has willed us back from the brink. I apologize for doubting his great magiC. The game is on.
Of course, if we are the jinxed franchise that past history indicates, then we go 1-4 over the next 5 and slink off into irrelevance. Again.
But for today, remember the '69 Mets: Ya gotta' believe!
We're already just a game back of the rodent angels. Win this afternoon and we push to a draw and erase the pain of that last sweep with one of our own.
Then comes Texas.
To content, we need to win today, take three out of four in Texas, one out of three in Houston, two out of three against the rangers in Seattle, one out of three against the Indians, sweep the athletics, and get two of three from the angels. That's 13-7 down the stretch...good for 84-78. That would still require Minnesota to come in under five hundred the rest of the way...but that is what must be done.
How did I blow that? Thanks Matt!!
There's a baseball game on today. Better tape it! :- )