After going 9-for-9 saving games to begin the season, Brandon League just turned in maybe the worst week a closer has ever had, taking losses in four straight appearances and blown saves in each of the last three. Overall, he gave up 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings over four appearances.
He became the first reliever since the Nationals’ Ron Villone in 2009 to take losses in four straight appearances.
What the stretch really brings to mind, though, is the one Brian Fuentes, then with the Rockies, had in 2007. Fuentes, an excellent closer for 2 1/2 years, suddenly lost it at the end of June. He took blown saves and losses in four straight games over an eight day stretch, yieldding 11 runs — eight earned — in 2 1/3 innings in the process.
The Rockies felt they had no other choice but to pull him from the closer’s role and go to Manuel Corpas. Fuentes went on the DL just a week afterwards because of a strained lat muscle. He returned and pitched brilliantly as a setup man in the second half, amassing a 1.52 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. Things went well for the Rockies, too, as they advanced to the World Series before losing to the Red Sox.
League, of course, won’t be contributing to a postseason run this year, not unless he’s traded anyway. And the Mariners really want him to succeed in the closer’s role with David Aardsma potentially done for the year. They do have three relievers with sub-2.00 ERAs in David Pauley, Aaron Laffey and Jamey Wright, but they’re all failed starters with mediocre stuff.
As things stand now, it looks like manager Eric Wedge is giving League one more chance to keep his job. Another blown save, though, and it will probably be Wright’s turn to close.
The last time the Mariners qualified for a postseason berth, I was eleven years old. My lone memory of the Mariners’ historic 116-win season has been reduced to a brief conversation with my father over nachos at our local Mexican restaurant. The details of our conversation are lost to me now; with an upbringing specifically tailored to Seattle Seahawks football, even the best and brightest of the Mariners’ glory days appeared as little more than a blip on my radar.
The Mariners enter Sunday with a 14% chance of securing a ticket to the playoffs. They’ll kick off the series finale at 2:10 PM EDT, during which Seattle’s Taijuan Walker will take on Minnesota lefty Hector Santiago. Neither pitcher looked dominant on the mound last week, with both Walker and Santiago lasting just 5 ⅓ innings in their previous starts and giving up three runs and six runs in their respective outings.
What should have been an easy sweep for Seattle turned ugly on Saturday night as the Mariners battled their way to a 3-2 loss in Minnesota. Nelson Cruz‘s mammoth two-run homer was the only saving grace for an offense that has produced at a .263/.334/.437 clip in September. With a three-game set against the Astros on Monday and a final homestand against the A’s next weekend, it’ll take a significant push to propel the Mariners into October baseball.
Should they beat the odds and snap a 15-year playoff drought, however, I’ll be following every step of the way this time — whether the postseason goes the way of the Double or a Geronimo Berroa home run. (Just don’t make me give up my nachos.)
You can find more from Sunday’s action below.
New York Yankees (Michael Pineda) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 1:07 PM EDT
Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon) @ Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin), 1:10 PM EDT
Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Detroit Tigers (Matt Boyd), 1:10 PM EDT
Arizona Diamondbacks (Braden Shipley) @ Baltimore Orioles (Dylan Bundy), 1:35 PM EDT
Washington Nationals (A.J. Cole) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Tyler Glasnow), 1:35 PM EDT
Los Angeles Angels (Daniel Wright) @ Houston Astros (Joe Musgrove), 2:10 PM EDT
Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker) @ Minnesota Twins (Hector Santiago), 2:10 PM EDT
Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @ Oakland Athletics (Jharel Cotton), 4:05 PM EDT
San Francisco Giants (Ty Blach) @ San Diego Padres (Clayton Richard), 4:40 PM EDT
St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez) @ Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester), 8:08 PM EDT
Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins: POSTPONED
Amid the clash and clatter of division races, wild card nail-biters, and postseason finishes, the Giants and Padres played a baseball game.
It wasn’t a particularly brilliant game — Madison Bumgarner surrendered five runs and a season-high three homers over six frames, while the bullpen blew a one-run lead in the seventh — but it served its purpose in the end. Denard Span’s 10th inning home run cemented the Giants’ 82nd win of the season, scooting them half a game up in the wild card standings and keeping the Dodgers from clinching the division.
Granted, the Dodgers only need one more win (or, alternatively, a Giants’ loss) to lay claim to the division title, and it’s almost certain that they’ll take the NL West on Sunday. A division title may be out of reach for the Giants, but they’ll still face fierce competition from the Mets and Cardinals for a wild card spot heading into the last week of the season.
Here are the rest of the box scores from Saturday’s games. Keep an eye out for Dustin Pedroia‘s grand slam, Josh Reddick‘s grand slam, and Hunter Renfroe’s first career home run.
Royals 7, Tigers 4
Cardinals 10, Cubs 4
Rangers 5, Athletics 0
Blue Jays 3, Yankees 0
Red Sox 6, Rays 4
Orioles 6, Diamondbacks 1
Nationals 6, Pirates 1
Marlins 6, Braves 4
White Sox 8, Indians 1
Reds 6, Brewers 1
Angels 10, Astros 4
Phillies 10, Mets 8
Twins 3, Mariners 2
Giants 9, Padres 6 (10 innings)
Dodgers 14, Rockies 1