Game 31: Mariners 8, Rangers 2

Chase de Jong can finally breathe easy. His beginning to the season was marred by a walk-off homer, a two-inning start, and perhaps salvaged by a solid outing between the two disasters. His solid start last night kept the Ranger bats cool yet again, and the M’s rallied behind him for the win.

Seventh Inning Explosion Seals Win

Danny Valencia’s bat has been hot through the beginning of May, and he contributed to a seventh inning rally that put the Rangers behind for good. Right fielder Ben Gamel continued his hot streak by adding a pair of singles and two RBI in the seventh as well.”Scoring seven in the seventh? That’s a good omen,” said Gamel after the game. “We can really turn it over when everybody is clicking.”

All through Spring and this season, I’ve been more than impressed by the sheer depth of talent at the outfield position. Haniger was putting up ROY numbers until his injury, and the M’s haven’t missed a beat since Gamel stepped in for him. Leonys wasn’t producing, but fellow Cuban Guillermo Heredia has provided that extra pop to make up the difference. This gives those guys room to heal up on the DL or get some extra tuning in down at the AAA level, a luxury the M’s haven’t had in some time. That depth will be key if Seattle wants to make a postseason run, especially with an aging core.

The injuries the M’s have experienced have been a blessing in disguise. “With everything that has gone here the last few days, it literally is day-to-day and inning-by-inning with this,” manager Scott Servais¬†said. That added attention has no doubt added stress to the Mariner brass, but seeing the depth up-close at the highest level has been valuable, and seeing the potential of each piece of the organization will pay dividends going forward. Everyone harps on the Dodgers last year setting a record for using the most players in a season, which would no doubt be challenging in terms of maintaining a stable locker room culture, etc., but the hands-on experience with guys in the organization who would otherwise stay at the AAA level is invaluable, especially when it results in wins.

De Jong Fills In For Felix

The M’s have had to jerry-rig a rotation after injuries to Drew Smyly, Felix Hernandez, and now James Paxton. With a bullpen that has only now begun to prove itself, it’s never a good spot to be in. It’s been relieving and refreshing to see the starters step up the way they have; de Jong’s start last night was no exception.”Seeing Pax go down was the last thing we wanted to see,” De Jong said following his start. “After Felix goes down, Smyly after the WBC, those are our three horses. Yovani [Gallardo] has done an incredible job stepping up, [Ariel] Miranda has done a very nice job.”

Pazos ended up getting the win after striking out the side in the top of the seventh, right before the Mariners’ offensive explosion. Dan Altavilla, who was recently called up with Mike Zunino’s demotion, worked the ninth, giving up a solo shot to Mike Napoli. Altavilla has the potential to be a reliable fireballer out of the ‘pen, he just has yet to show it.

The M’s look to wrap up the series with a win today, Dillon Overton gets his first start of the year.