Good Process, Bad Result
So our friend Mina Kimes has weighed in our her current mood as a Mariners fan:
On the one hand, after breaking the drought and advancing to the second round, everything is just icing on the cake for a magical Mariners season. On the other hand, GODDAMNIT YORDAN ALVAREZ WHY CAN’T I HAVE NICE THINGS?
It’s a fair question, one that Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais spent much of Wednesday answering. If you will recall, the Mariners had several big leads in Game 1 of their divisional playoff against Houston and took a two-run lead into the ninth. After a series of plays — a groundout, a ball grazing a player’s uniform, a swinging strikeout and a two-strike single by Jeremy Peña — the Astros sent the winning run to the plate in the hulking form of Yordan Alvarez, their best hitter and pretty much as good a hitter as there is in baseball.
Servais had several fairly obvious options. He could have left reliever Paul Sewald in the game. The pros: Sewald has been the Mariners’ most reliable ninth-inning guy, he’s comfortable in such situations, and if you care about small sample sizes, he’s pitched well against Alvarez, holding him to one hit in seven-at bats, striking him out three times. He even got Alvarez to end a close game just four months ago.
The cons: It would be a righty-lefty matchup — though it should be said that Alvaraz hits lefties about as well as he hits righties — and Sewald does give up the long ball.
OK, so what else could Servais have done?