There were two baseball games today.
The first game was, in a way, a continuation of the yesterday's snoozefest that saw the Mariners K their way straight onto the plane to Texas, this time matching Rangers' starter Colby Lewis (who was called up only the day before the game), with a bunch of great innings from Mariners stop-gap starter Roenis Elias. It was, again, slow--the Mariners went down in order in the first. The second saw a bit of two-out action from Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak, and then the third passed with just about nothing doing save for a Brad Miller single.
Lewis was pitching very well tonight, and Elias was matching him with frames. He certainly gave up more hits in these early innings, and seemed to get into a bit of trouble only in the second with a leadoff walk to Shin-Soo Choo followed by a single to chinstrap beard aficionado Elvis Andrus immediately afterward. The inning was soon over after a double play, and so was the second and third in no time. Snoremageddeon 2.0. Chris Young was watching from the dugout fence. Michael Saunders was busy picking the Alaska Airlines trail mix chew from his teeth, because he had been subbed in for Logan Morrison after the latter felt tightness during pregame stretches. Saunders may not have been ready for the start, but he took it, teeth-cleaning and all.
And that was the end of the first game. Now it was the fifth inning--the second game--and Mike Zunino did this:
It was a rocket blast to center which looked about nine thousand times better than his awful strikeout from yesterday, and as luck would have it, some awful guy had to run out to that stupid grass thing to grab it like always, although it appeared this guy, wearing a Cardinals (?) hoodie, missed the ball, threw it back, or did something else immediately afterwards. Whatever. Because then the sixth happened, and boy was it a doozy.
See, this is where I struggle to put all this into words. Yesterday, I rambled for a bit about what it's like to introduce a friend to baseball during a boring game, but as luck would have it, I was actually watching this at a bar with my friend who doesn't follow the Mariners at all. We were talking about the Blazers in the playoffs for a bit, then Zunino hit his dinger and I celebrated as inconspicuously as possible. Elias got out of the bottom of the fifth with a double play and a strikeout, and then this happened:
1. Robinson Cano single
2. Corey Hart popout, Michael Saunders TRIPLE, 2-0 Mariners
3. Kyle Seager single scoring Saunders, 3-0 Mariners
--Pitching change, Pedro Figueroa
4. Justin Smoak reaches on an error
5. Dustin Ackley singles to score Seager on error in outfield. 4-0 Mariners
6. Mike Zunino single on a fly ball just outside Shin-Soo Choo's reach, which he probably could have had four years ago. 5-0 Mariners
7. Abraham Almonte moves the runners up to load the bases..
8. Overturned play at the plate after Rangers catcher JP Arencibia drops a forceout, Brad Miller reaches, Ackley scores, bases loaded. 6-0 Mariners
After this play, which was calmly challenged by LLoyd (and frankly, surprisingly overturned as the "catch" wasn't an outfield catch but was instead a toss to home to tag the plate on a forceout), Rangers manager Ron Washington came screaming out of the dugout, blood vessels bursting ostensibly to wake up his players and less to actually challenge the (overturned) call. He was thrown out in seconds. This didn't matter much because seconds later,
9. Robinson Cano hits a deep fly ball to score Zunino. 7-0 Mariners
Wow. It was a surreal fifteen minutes. My friend actually asked me if baseball is usually this exciting and I wanted to say it was, but I knew it was a lie. But that's the thing--if baseball was always like this, then nights like this would just be called "Mondays" instead of "Holy Shit the Mariners Destroyed the Stupid Rangers." I like this second option much better.
If we decide to remain in la-la land for a minute, we can look at the crazy scenario that got the Rangers out of the inning, which was to put hours-old Ranger Hector Noesi on the mound to face his former team, who had been producing run after run after run like a wound hemorrhaging on an episode of Game of Thrones. You know what happens next, don't you? Except that didn't happen. Noesi pitched 2.1 innings and only gave up one hit, striking out two Mariners in the process. We can win, but we can't win them all, folks.
The Rangers got one on the board in the seventh, after Elias gave up his only run of the night on a single to Kevin Kouzmanoff that scored Prince Fielder, who had hit a double moments earlier. Elias was pulled moments after, and produced an extremely respectable 6.2 IP with 5H, 1R, 2BB, and five strikeouts in his third MLB start (and only second with a normal strikezone). If Chris Young is a band-aid that doesn't peel back, Elias is a peach that wasn't supposed to be ripe yet that just happens to be hey, well, okay! There may be more fruit in the bottom shelf that tastes better, but for now, this is pretty damn nice.
End of the day? What a game. Kyle Seager always happens to destroy Texas, and took advantage of it tonight, going 2-4 on the night. Saunders didn't get the "start," but as he was placed in the game seconds after Logan Morrison pulled something stretching, decided to take advantage and destroy the ballpark in Arlington, going 2-5 with an extremely well hit triple that opened up the wound to let the bleeding happen.
But ultimately it was Texas' defense that allowed much of tonight to happen. Which on one hand feels kind of like a pyrrhic victory. You want your hitters to just destroy the ball regardless of defensive ineptitude. But for me anyway, any change to shame a Texas Ranger is a change well worth taking, so I'll call the evening a well-won victory.
See, tomorrow Blake Beavan takes the mound to face the Rangers' Robbie Ross, who hasn't started an MLB game in a year so will of course probably somehow be dominant tomorrow. Soak this up while you can. Except if tomorrow goes well. Because you know, who knows what the hell is going on with this team at this rate. Which certainly feels nicer to say than anything did last year.