My favorite Simpsons joke of all time is from the last episode of the second season, Blood Feud. I forget exactly what why, but Homer gets upset at Mr. Burns and writes him an angry letter in jest. The next morning, he wakes up regretting the whole thing only to find out that Bart has mailed the letter anyway, so they set off to stop it en route. They arrive at the post office and Homer tries to impersonate Mr. Burns to get the letter, but tells the courier that his name is only "Mr. Burns." When he is asked his first name, he responds with "I don't know." They get kicked out.
This has nothing to do with today's baseball game. But that's kind of what today's baseball game was like. It didn't make sense. I'm not even really sure it happened. It broke some sort of unwritten rule, somewhere, somehow. Here are a few things that happened in today's baseball game.
- Endy Chavez drew two walks. Before today, he had three walks all season.
- James Jones went 3-6 with a triple and a stolen base. He is now hitting .295 and has a wOBA of .307. On May 1st, Abraham Almonte was the Seattle Mariners' starting centerfielder, and is today one of three Mariners outfielders on the fan ballots for the All-Star game. It has been exactly two months and now Jones leads the team in triples and is only second to Robinson Cano in batting average.
- In the sixth inning, the Mariners hit four consecutive doubles, a single, and then another double. By the time the inning was over, they had 10 runs to Houston's one.
- After one of the doubles in the middle of this inning, the ROOT broadcast camera cut to the Mariners dugout, which was at this time filled with incredulous faces. I'm sure he was there the whole time, but all of a sudden a City of Houston police officer entered the frame from off-screen and sat down right in the middle of the Mariners' bench, folding his arms. He was wearing a stern expression. The Mariners are so good the fuzz are after them.
- Someone whose nickname is one accent mark away from a derogatory name for Jews made his Major League debut, went 2-2 with an RBI, and is presumably an all-around good person despite the awkward semantics of that whole thing. His family came to cheer him on, and the clip is full of good feelings:
- Dustin Ackley went 3-4 on the day and almost hit two home runs in a single at bat. One that was pulled foul by about ten feet would have been in the second deck. The second, which was an RBI double, missed the yellow tape by about one foot.
- Every Mariner that played in today's game picked up at least a hit with the exception of Willie Bloomquist, who picked up an RBI groundout late in the game to give Cano a rest.
- Dave Sims was fooled by about seven fly balls. One he wasn't fooled on was a towering dinger from Kyle Seager in the ninth inning that hit the second deck. As it left his bat, Sims shouted Seager KILLS this...I mean that ball is DRILLED! On one hand he was doing his job as a play-by-play announcer of a Major League Baseball team, but on the other, it seemed like he was using the event as a pedagogical tool for visual distance learning for the rest of the home run calls he is going to make this year.
- Brandon Maurer pitched two innings of late relief, ran into trouble, and didn't spontaneously combust like that goofy Incubus song from back in the day when they used to put weird stuff their hair and wear goofy necklaces.
- Astonishingly, the 13-2 result of today's ballgame contained not a single true Damn it, Astros moment. The Astros are growing up right in front of our eyes, folks. Still losing like the Dickens, but growing up nonetheless.
Yes, so as you can see this was kind of an interesting baseball game we had here today. This was Homer going to space. Leonard Nimoy and the Monorail. Bart convincing everyone that a Comet is going to destroy the world, and sending all of Springfield into hiding inside Ned Flanders' bomb shelter. These are all kind of surreal and bizarre things to happen, but in a way they also make sense because they happen in an animated television show written by professional funnypeople. So in that sense, today made sense in a way as well, because the Mariners were playing the Astros.
But it didn't have to go this way. We all know that the Mariners somehow don't know how to beat the Astros, going only 16-14 over the past two seasons despite the whole punching-bag thing. And even better is that the Astros are, themselves, getting better. George Springer is going to be a monster. Two prospects made their MLB debuts today. Dallas Keuchel is good today. Jose Altuve is short and hits more than anyone else in the American League. And yet, the Mariners have finally realized that they were supposed to win all those games from last year, this year. And it's about damn time.
I wish I could tell you a bunch of stuff about Iwakuma today. All I really remember is that he looked about as sharp as he has over the past couple of starts (read: not sharp). But thanks to Houston's absurdly ginormous centerfield fence (and their baseball team), he escaped damage with only a single run over seven innings. He also struck out seven Astros hitters.
I don't really remember much about Iwakuma because holy shit, that sixth inning. The Mariners haven't done that since 1991. People were laughing in disbelief. People started to leave. In the sixth inning. Iwakuma tried to remain loose in the dugout, even coming back to pitch the bottom of the sixth with only a single hit allowed. But it was just too long for him to sit, neck injury and all.
Dominic Leone came and was a little bit of a mess after two more runs were added to the board in the seventh, but you know, heh, 12-1. He gave up a run. I think. Seriously nobody was paying attention by this point. Brandon Maurer came on and had his longest relief appearance of the season, with a 1-2-3 eighth and a ninth that saw his first real challenge in his new role. He gave up a one out single, and then got an out. He gave up a single to George Springer and then walked Jon Singleton, command shaking a bit. It was 12-2. Jesus Guzman popped up and the rest was history. I was saying Boo-urns!
So yes, the Mariners walloped the Astros today, and it was simultaneously ugly and beautiful and bizarre and meaningful and stupid and great and just an incredible thing to see. Their run differential is +67. They are 5.5 games away from the A's. Tomorrow John Buck is going to catch Chris Young and there are going to be a shit ton of fly balls in a large outfield, and the Mariners may sweep the Astros. Randy Wolf just signed with the Orioles and is probably hearing people talk about Chris Young all the time. I don't really know how else to end this because this is all really weird right now.
Someday it will all come back down to earth, crashing. But not today.