ESPN’s Passan: Why Mariners still have a shot vs Astros in ALDS

Oct 12, 2022, 12:11 PM
Mariners Jarred Kelenic...
Mariners LF Jarred Kelenic is met after scoring a run against the Astros in Game 1 of the ALDS. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Tuesday’s Game 1 of the American League Division Series was one of the toughest single-game losses the Mariners have ever endured, but there’s still a lot of series left to go and they’ve shown they belonged in October.

The keys to Mariners moving on from devastating Game 1 loss

That’s something ESPN MLB reporter Jeff Passan stressed when he joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk for his weekly conversation on Wednesday morning.

Passan earned himself the nickname on the show of “The Wet Blanket” (and even a catchy theme song courtesy of James “Boy Howdy” Osborn) years ago for his observations about the M’s during their rebuild, but he’s been understandably more optimistic this season. Completing his turnaround, on Wednesday he took it upon himself to take the role of therapist for the M’s fan base.

Asked matter of factly why the Mariners still have a shot despite blowing a three-run lead in the eighth inning and falling behind 1-0 in the series to the AL-best Astros on Yordan Alvarez’s three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday night, Passan had a laundry list of positive things to point to.

“Because they have Luis Castillo going in Game 2,” he said. “Because they potentially have George Kirby going in Game 3. Because the crowd at T-Mobile is going to be absolutely bananas (for Game 3 on Saturday). Because their lineup, if it can hit Justin Verlander, it can hit absolutely anybody. Because Scott Servais will learn from his mistakes, because Robbie Ray is bound to rebound from his, and because the complete turning of ‘The Wet Blanket’ into potentially ‘The Doctor’ is going to fuel the good vibes that are necessary to make this happen.”

Maybe this ‘Doctor’ thing will stick…

The blame for Mariners’ walk-off loss

Passan of course still needed to address the Mariners’ collapse in Houston on Tuesday. Seattle’s bullpen faltered with Andrés Muñoz giving up a two-run homer in the eighth inning to Astros slugger Alex Bregman, Paul Sewald put two batters on in the ninth to give the ever-dangerous Alvarez a final at-bat, and a rare Robbie Ray relief appearance went disastrously wrong as he gave up the deciding homer to Alvarez.

Mike Salk asked Passan if the decision making of the Mariners or their execution was more at fault. Here’s the full response:

Oh, execution – 100%. There’s no good pitcher to face Yordan Alvarez. I just want to make that abundantly clear. There’s no one in the world who is a good matchup against Yordan Alvarez. It doesn’t matter what your strengths are. For being 6-5, 250 (pounds), he is, like, the largest pure hitter maybe I’ve ever seen. That’s what he is. He’s just a pure, pure hitter. You don’t see that combination of size, power and bat control. It’s really, really special. So Robbie Ray needed to keep a ball in a certain place, didn’t do it. Could we have said Scott Servais should have brought in Erik Swanson and just had him throw a bunch of splits? Yeah, there’s certainly a decision making element to it there. Alex Bregman is pure execution, right? If Andrés Muñoz doesn’t leave that pitch over the plate, if he’s throwing a slider where it needs to be, he keeps the fastball up at the absolute top of the zone, then Alex Bregman is not hitting the ball out to left field. We can belabor and bemoan the Ray decision all we want, but there were a series of things that were leading up to that moment. Paul Sewald hitting a rookie pinch-hitter (David Hensley) on a 3-2 fastball – pure execution. Paul Sewald not putting away a very strikeout-prone rookie, Jeremy Peña, when he had him down to the last strike – execution, execution, execution. There was one questionable decision with Ray, but the rest, sorry, putting it on the players.

You can listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with Passan in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

Salk: Who gets blame for Mariners’ Game 1 collapse? It’s complicated

Brock and Salk podcast

Brock and Salk

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ESPN’s Passan: Why Mariners still have a shot vs Astros in ALDS