Crawford Shrugs it Off as the Mariners Defeat the Astros in the Series

As lifeless as the Mariners’ lineup can appear at times, J.P. Crawford captured the essence of Seattle’s offense following the team’s miraculous comeback victory on Wednesday night.

Crawford said, “Get the game over with,” “Get the job done. And let’s go home. Honestly, get a good pitch, don’t miss it. And thankfully, I didn’t miss it.”

Crawford hit a 304-foot, bases-loaded sacrifice fly to deep right that easily scored speedy Jonatan Clase, the automatic and pinch runner, to lead the Mariners to a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Astros at T-Mobile Park.

Dominic Canzone intentionally rolled over a pull-side groundout, moving Clase to third base. Then, with no strangers to these occasions, shortstop and unofficial team captain of Seattle, Cal Raleigh, and Luke Raley, each walked to turn over the lineup.

“If you don’t look forward to being the hero of the night, you’re in the wrong sport,” Crawford stated. “Once you get into that spot where you know you can win the game, there was nothing else that was going through my mind.”

Seattle has won four straight games to tie a season-high, having generated five of its seven wins since May 18 with comebacks in the eighth inning or later. Seattle, who has won all six of its previous series at home, will now attempt a four-game sweep on Thursday. This week’s opponent, against whom the Mariners are currently 14-5 since the beginning of last year, has further enhanced the situation.

After losing in the final game of the 2022 postseason, “we’ve played much better against them since that forgettable day when we played 18 innings,” Mariners manager Scott Servais stated.

Wednesday’s wasn’t the most unexpected of the craziness that has been this wild run lately, but it also wasn’t the most gratifying.

Thanks to six innings of one-run ball from George Kirby, who increased the Mariners’ MLB lead with 34 quality starts, and another strong outing from their bullpen—which has now thrown 12 straight scoreless innings dating back to Sunday’s victory against the Nats—the Mariners were able to overcome a season-high tying 15 strikeouts and stay in the game.

Mike Baumann, a recently acquired reliever who joined the team last week in New York, pitched a flawless 10th inning and was given credit for the win. Additionally, because of his work, the Mariners were able to overcome a ruined walk-off opportunity in the ninth inning, when pinch hitters Ryan Bliss and Mitch Haniger struck out five-time All-Star Josh Hader with the winning run on third base with one out.

With 29 more strikeouts than Oakland, which is in second place in the MLB, Seattle’s season total now stands at a record 582. They are striking out batters at a rate of 28.2% overall, up from their second-worst 25.9% rate the previous season. This has led the general office to restructure the offense by replacing their most strikeout-prone hitters with those they thought would be more contact-oriented.

With the huge qualifier “so far,” the difference between 2023 and ’24 is that the American League West hasn’t been nearly as loaded, with the Mariners (31-26) in first place being the only team above.500.

Crawford remarked, “We know we’re not there yet.” “Everyone’s going through ups and downs right now. But at the end of the day, once we step in those lines, it’s win the game.”

Additionally, Justin Verlander, a well-known opponent for Seattle, faced them. He pitched seven strong innings of one-run ball with only a 411-foot home run in the fifth inning that Dominic Canzone pounced on off a first-pitch fastball. Other than that, the immortal ace allowed the Mariners to manage just two hits and one walk. Since Verlander joined the Astros at the 2017 Trade Deadline, they had won three of their previous eighteen games against him.

However, they also had the final laugh—only after Houston used its woefully inadequate bullpen.

Verlander remarked, “You know these are going to be close games.” “If you think you’re going to come in here and bang out five, six, seven runs a game, I don’t think that’s realistic. You might get one guy, but this series has gone relatively the way people would expect. … In these tight ballgames, the margin for error is so small.”

Even if it takes extra innings to record the one-and-only knockout, the Mariners will ride the success of their pitching staff and hope that their lineup can continue to deliver one major punch.