It was dollar dog night at Minute Maid tonight. This is only relevant because it gives me an opportunity to remind Mariners fans everywhere that 1) hot dogs are great 2) this night was all about cool cats and 3) you cannot eat three hot dogs in one night past the age of 28 and expect to feel remotely good the next day. Learn from my mistakes and make better choices. Got it? Ok. Now, some baseball. In the second inning I would realize that Stephen Romero was on deck. Wow. We're in the world. September is marked by call-ups and, if you're in the Mariners current predicament, the realization you're playing baseball that doesn't matter all that much. The best we might realistically hope for is to be post-season spoilers for the other teams in the AL-West. But tonight wasn't about realism. Tonight was about some old favorites showing their best, and some young bucks crying out, "Not on this night." Because with two out in the second, Stephen Romero hit the ball hard for a base hit just past a diving Correa, so clearly Stephen Romero is better. That's how baseball works, right? Jesus Walked because you can't predict baseball. And then the hometown boy, the humble hero came up.
Shawn O'Malley made his Mariners debut tonight (he's from Kennewick and is 27 years old). And his first at-bat, O'Malley went the other way and with Stephen's good jump, the Mariners grabbed a run. Shawn O'Malley! O'Malley the baseball bat! We're going to win the World Series (someday)! That was Shawn's first RBI as a Mariner. When a 27 year old call up scores on Scott Kazmir, you're going places. These dumb Lastros. Wait, it's April, right?
Later in the second, Colby Rasmus singled, and Carlos Gomez (Hey you're still an Astro! Look at that!) got dinged (this wasn't Tai's best outing), and we were two on with no outs, and feeling very mortal.
Rasmus would score from second, his dumb hair flapping through the wind, as Preston Tucker (really, who?) lined one into right and tied it up. Colby, ony Nom Nom DeGrom should have that hair. The Mariner Killer, Luis Valbuena hit a RBI sac fly and Gomez (still here!) scored before Hank Conger (love your name, sir) hit into a double play to limit Tai's damage. MyTai, not a CyTai. Please TryTai.
Kyle legged out an infield hit and gets his little behind to first. (Kyle knew you were talking about Corey Seager, Mike and Aaron, and he wanted you to appreciate the Seager you have. It's a very good Seager.) Kyle moved to second on a passed ball. And then Franklin Gutierrez hit a double up the hill on a pitch right in the middle of the plate and the ball goes up the hill over the ramp to grandmother's house it goes and Kyle scores. Passed balls: a great thing! Ground rule doubles: A better thing. This play isn't available for embedding yet, but it looked like this:
A note on tonight's strike zone. This strike zone was a disaster.
It is generally bad to accuse professionals of being incompetent or drunk on the job, but Barrett was either drunk or having a lot of small strokes in a row. The Astros would tack on a run later in the inning because Evan "The Mountain" Gattis loves hacking us to death. The Mountain strikes again and scores Lowrie. I hate the Mountain.
Tai had strike zone and command troubles this inning and walked Gomez (really, still here) before Gomez got caught in a hilariously great run down. GET HIMMMMMM I scream at the TV (Tai got him). This play is also not embeddable but:
In the fifth it was all THUMBS UP KYLE. Lead off doubles are super fun. Aaron Goldsmith would quip "Kyle looks like he's looking for a snow cone." I will say that Kyle looks like he is having a lot more fun of late. There are little things that keep us coming back late in the season and that is one of them for me. Here's a look at Kyle's salutes. Good job Kyle. You remain our favorite Prince.
After Nelson struck out for the third time (Nelson had a rough little game. More on that later.), Robbie smack an RBI single in, with Kyle scoring from second. The RBI tied the game and signaled the end of Kazmir's night. Mariners worked hard in this game. That's a silly thing to say, but it was nice to see them work long at bats, score runs, and look like competent baseball players.
Later in the sixth, Shawn O'Malley would switch bat left handed and GOOD CAT. He had a base hit as a rightie and a leftie. WE WILL DIE ON THIS HILL. Later in the inning we also got O'Malley: Sneaky Cat! when he swiped second with Ketel up. We can't take advantage, but Tai would see three batters and register three fly ball outs. MyTai, he's such a good GuyTai.
It looked like we'd add on in the seventh. With a 5 game hit streak, during which he's gone 10 for 21, our Sweet Prince has certainly pulled himself out of his August doldrums. He's A Good Kyle and he walked to lead off the inning. Kyle having a good night always makes me happy. I can still feel things. That's nice this late in the year. On a Nelson Cruz single (see?), Kyle had some very aggressive and good base running so we had runners at the corners and no outs and good god please do a thing. You thought they would when Kyle (really, if Shawn O'Malley hadn't been so great, this recap would have been all about Kyle) had a really nice bit of strategic base running, getting caught in and staying in a run down long enough to get Nelson to third and Robbie to second. Our Kyle is the best Kyle. Our Seager, is the best Seager (Corey, cool those jets). But it was all for naught. Nelson got snagged on a not-deep-sac-fly-attempt and the inning ended. And he also strains his quad. I want to have nice things. Tai dispatched the first two batters of the seventh with ease, but then would walk Valbuena and give up a double to Conger (I no longer like your name) and leave Carson Smith to face Altuve with two out and two on and then CARSON PUNCHES OUT ALTUVE HOW SWEET IT IS GOOD GOD NELSON BE OK.
The Eighth: Madness
This inning was bananas. LoMo drew a walk, Sucre sac bunted and then Pat Neshek forgot how to field and everyone was safe with LoMo is at 3rd and Sucre is at 2nd. And then we get the hero cat. Because Shawn O'Malley is the hero we need and deserve. He hit his second RBI of the night.
Or as funny friend Ethan said,
Shawn O'Rally IMO
— Ethan Novak (@EthanNovak) September 3, 2015
The Astros loaded ‘em with an intentional walk to Kyle, and Seth up to pinch hit for Nelson "please be ok" Cruz and the Mariners extend the lead to 5-3 on a fielder's choice. Tom Wilhelmsen once again made short work of the side, taking advantage of a bad strike zone and good pitching.
5-3 is a good lead on most Mariners nights, but we were not content. Guti reached for the third time on a shattered bat single. Mark Trumbo got a little single and then HECK YES LOMO. LOMOOOOOOOOOO THREE RUN HOMER SUCK IT LASTROS YOU GOOBERS WHO ARE ANNOYINGLY GOOD AT BASEBALL. SEPTEMBER LOMO IS BACK.
The Bartender saw Carlos "I'm still an Astro" Gomez, who hit a double and got a triple off a misplayed ball by Guti (Guti, we love you, no one cares). But it wouldn't matter. As has been his want of late, Tom did good bartender things and sent the Astros home before they hurt themselves. We all had an excuse to revisit The Aristocats, and the Mariners looked like a competent baseball team. It was the first home series the Astros dropped since May. At this point in the year, you want a reason to keep watching. The Mariners gave us several.