Seattle, WA

Seeking First Flag Ever, Seattle Suffers Serious Setback

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Eugenio Suarez supplied power to Seattle before suffering a September injury.Hayden Schiff from Cincinnati, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

By Dan Schlossberg

Sleepless in Seattle: en route to their first playoff appearance since 2001, the Seattle Mariners have lost one of their hottest bats — possibly for the duration.

That’s bad news for the only one of the 30 major-league teams that has never won a pennant.

Even the team that won a league-record 116 games in 2001 wasn’t able to beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

Losing Eugenio Suárez, a slugging third baseman, makes it even tougher.

Suarez, who has 31 home runs, went on the IL last weekend with a fracture in the tip of his right index finger. He hopes to take some batting practice during the Royals series this weekend and return in time for a few at-bats in the final week before the playoffs.

In a word, Oy.

The 31-year-old Venezuelan slugger, who once had a 49-homer season for Cincinnati, is a key cog in the Seattle machine. He’s hitting just .235 this season but has 31 homers and 84 runs batted in.

Suárez has had a pair of 100-rbi seasons and this would have been his third if he had stayed healthy.

Instead, he spent Monday visiting an Arizona hand specialist.

The 5-11, 180-pound right-handed hitter is one of three ex-Reds, along with pitcher Luis Castillo and outfielder Jesse Winker, who turned the M’s into a playoff team for the first time in 21 years.

After struggling in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Suarez became an expendable piece for the cost-cutting Reds, who dealt Suarez and Jesse Winker to Seattle in March for a package of four younger players. 

The deal paid instant dividends: Seattle began the day Thursday at 81-67, good for second in the AL West but 17 games behind the front-running Houston Astros.

Even such legendary icons as Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Ken Griffey, Jr. couldn’t get the M’s to the promised land of the post-season. A-Rod and Johnson got there with other clubs but Junior never made it — even after a mid-career trade to his hometown Reds.

Suárez would like to play in the World Series too and might get his chance this year. A team only has to reach the 12-team tournament for that to be possible.

Toronto and Tampa Bay, both in the American League East, will be the other AL wild-cards.

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has written 40 baseball books and thousands of articles about the game. He never wastes his time watching football. E.mail Dan at ballauthor@gmail.com.

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