Since Justin Smoak has returned to this team, the Mariners have won via walk-off on Tuesday, perfect game on Wednesday and via the long ball tonight. When Justin Smoak was down in Tacoma, the team was okay. There were ups and downs, but now that Justin Smoak is back with the team, the chemistry is there. Now that the chemistry is there, this team is great once again. They’re 3-0 and Justin Smoak is undoubtedly to thank.
Seem a bit ridiculous? So was the whole “Ichiro-left-and-now-we’re-good-because-of-it” a few weeks ago, Mariners fans. Coincidences happen, and unless you’re ready to crown Justin Smoak the team MVP, it doesn’t make sense to label Ichiro as the cause of the rough first half of the season.
Anyway, to this game, in which Justin Smoak went 1-for-4 (he is 2-for-9 since being recalled). John Jaso did what he seemingly always does and went 2-for-3 with a two run homerun. His average is now up to .292 on the year… but he still isn’t playing every day. I don’t think I’ll ever understand it.
Hisashi Iwakuma was brilliant in a follow-up performance to Felix Hernandez’ perfect game on Wednesday, starting the game with four perfect innings of his own. Iwakuma lasted seven and the only run he gave up was unearned. He got the win and is now 4-3 on the year and has quietly had a very impressive rookie season with the Mariners. At this point, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Mariners give Iwakuma another contract for 2013 – he has developed into a more than serviceable starter.
While Stephen Pryor had a rough outing in which he gave up back-to-back homers to Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham, it wouldn’t matter as the Mariners were already up 5-1 going into the eighth. With a two run lead to protect, closer Tom Wilhelmsen shut the door in the ninth, needing only nine pitches to send the Twins packing in order.
The Mariners are now 20-13 since the All-Star break. They are 3-1 to start out the homestand and their next five games are against the Twins and Indians, followed by a seven game road stretch against the White Sox and Twins again. They are only eight games below .500 now and a 10-2 record in the next 12 games against mostly inferior competition, while highly unlikely, would put them right back at .500.
The 1995 Mariners were 12.5 back on August 20th. The 2012 Mariners are 13.0 back on August 17th. I’m not going to say the Mariners have a realistic chance at getting back in the playoff hunt… but crazier things have happened.
Now that we have Justin Smoak, I like our chances.
Next game: vs. Twins | August 17 | 6:10 pm