There have been an increasing number of people who have written off the Mariners after their poor start to the season. A decade of disappointment has taught us to treat this team with cynicism. Under these circumstances, one might think the best way to avoid heartbreak is to keep away from things that cause it in the first place. That would be akin to telling someone to stop eating greatly, or to give up tobacco, whiskey, and bacon. Abandoning all those extremes and indulgences by which we maintain our delicate balance on the high wire of life.
A cynic doesn’t have to give a damn about anything. They won’t allow themselves to get worked up, thereby breaking their feigned air of indifference. They’ve worked up the gall to believe that eliminating all disappointment will lead to some kind of happiness. By doing so, they miss the full measure of joy when things go right. If the only way around disappointment is to stop loving, well, then, let’s settle for distress.
The Mariners have suffered through their fair share of distress over the first month of the season. There are so many ways to illustrate this misery but the five walk-off losses will do. Because tonight, the Mariners were on the other side. The Athletics walked off the field while Logan Morrison had a pile of trash poured on to him:
And the dinger that got us to that point:
That ball jumped off Morrison’s bat at 109mph and traveled 440 feet according to StatCast. We shouldn’t really be surprised because his batting line has been .433/.485/.900 over the last week with three homers. Morrison was also responsible for driving the Mariners’ first run on a sharp grounder against the shift in the second.
The rest of the game felt pretty standard for the 2015 edition of the Mariners. Both Sonny Gray and Taijuan Walker labored through the early innings, each giving up just a single run. It looked like Walker was going to be able to get through five strong innings until he left a fastball elevated, over the plate to Josh Reddick. The ball traveled 419 feet to right-center field and the A’s were up three to one. Walker ended up with six strikeouts, two walks, and five hits in five innings pitched.
Sonny Gray lasted one more inning before handing it over to the bullpen. Neither team should have much confidence in their bullpen considering how terrible they’ve both been this year. Sure enough, the Mariners were able to battle back in the seventh as Brad Miller and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back doubles with two outs to tie the game at three. It felt like forever since the Mariners have seen a hit with runners in scoring position with two outs so for it to happen twice in a row was a pleasant surprise.
The real surprise was the performance of the Mariners’ bullpen. After the Reddick home run in the fifth, the bullpen held the Athletics to just one hit over six innings while striking out eight. Danny Farquhar, Fernando Rodney, and Carson Smith all looked particularly nasty while Joe Beimel, Charlie Furbush, and Mark Lowe were efficient in working through their batters. As the night wore on into extra innings, the game never felt out of control and that's a testament to the effectiveness of the guys out in the bullpen.
The next two games in this series look like much easier contests and a series win is a definite possibility with Felix on the mound on Sunday. So, let us never stop loving these Mariners. Sure, the lows may be low, but damn it, the highs are entirely worth it.