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Robbie Ray Might Have Sunk the Mariners for Good

Where was common sense?

It’s hard to put the weight of one entire season on one at-bat – or one pitch – but if there’s ever a situation where that feels true, it’s this one. Robbie Ray against Yordan Alvarez with two on and two out in the ninth and the Mariners up by two in a game where they’d dominated the Astros. Like in a movie, even if you haven’t checked the score, you can guess how this story ended.

With a three-run home run and a loss for the Mariners, of course.

Now, the Astros are no one’s idea of a hero, and this is indeed just one game. The Mariners could come back and win three in a row. But baseball is a game of momentum, and nothing hurts as bad as losing a game you feel you should have won at the last possible second. Especially when the call to go with Ray only sorta makes sense if you look at it as superficially as possible.

Lefty against lefty is generally a decent call. Except …it’s not for Alvarez, who has looked better against lefties than righties, and who is pretty good against both, in general. Ray’s stats vs. Alvarez were also decent, but with only five at-bats total, that shouldn’t have been the deciding factor. Especially when Ray has been terrible against the Astros all year. And even if all that made sense for the Mariners, the strategy against Alvarez (if there was even one) just …didn’t.

Two fastballs in the strike zone? Maybe one to get ahead in the count, but two? Make it make sense. Even walking him to load the bases would have been better than what happened, especially considering the Mariners were up by two runs. A three-run walk-off home run was the worst-case scenario for the Mariners and that’s exactly what happened – after they were ahead by 5 with six outs to go.

Sure, Scott Servais didn’t exactly have many good options on what was a bad night for the bullpen all around. But surely Erik Swanson, who has been great against lefties and has a pretty nasty splitter would have been better than Ray? Or hey, even a Ray not throwing anything in the strike zone would have been acceptable. This isn’t even hindsight being 20/20, it’s common sense. And the lack of it didn’t just cost the Mariners a game, it might have doomed their entire season.