Friends, the Mariners are not good right now. They are not fun to watch. This is not to say they won't be good later. Fun will again be had at Safeco. But right now, it's a little thin on the ground. You need something to cling to other than Dae Ho Lee's smile and the occasional dinger. You need the Tacoma Rainiers.
"listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go."
The Rainiers are off to their best start to a season since 2009, at 4-1. They opened the season on Thursday with a 6 - 5 win against the Albuquerque Isotopes (a team whose name I will never tire of typing), thanks to a Stefen Romero RBI double and later an RBI single by Boog Powell. I was listening on the radio, wondering why the Tacoma fans were booing, when I realized with delight:
Good job, Tacoma fans. On Friday, when I was at Safeco--aw, Cishucks--Tacoma won again, 5 - 2, behind some strong pitching from Cody Martin (so that's where he is!) and a Blake Parker save. Mike Zunino had an RBI single, which is a sentence that maybe if it gets typed enough times will be cemented in the truth of his being. Twitter comic and site favorite Ed Lucas also had an RBI double, as did GRIT LORD Shawn O'Malley. Part of what makes Tacoma fun right now is we're so recently removed from Spring Training, Tacoma still has the feeling of a split squad game. The names are mostly familiar, and if you read the 40 in 40 series, so are many of the stories.
(Don't ask about Saturday, Paxton pitched and the Rainiers' bats went cold and they lost 0-2.)
On Sunday, when I was again at Safeco watching Felix sculpt a masterpiece and the Mariners' offense kick it into the nearest storm drain, the Rainiers were busy obliterating Albuquerque, 13 - 1. Adrian Sampson threw six shutout innings, and Stefen Romero drilled a homer so far you can't even see where it lands here:
And last night, while I watched the Mariners again squander a good start by Iwakuma, I had the Rainiers game on in the background, who were down 0 - 1 before rallying to make it 4 - 1, then had the lead slip away, then rallied again to win 6 - 3. It was a much more satisfying experience and somewhat dulled the pain of what I was watching on TV, and without any calories or long-term negative health effects, even.
Listen: all of this will change. The Mariners will start winning again, and the Rainiers probably won't be able to keep up this offensive clip: half their order is batting over .300. Stefen Romero is currently slashing .364/.364/.545 with an OPS of .909. Three players have five walks in about twenty plate appearances each. Cody Martin had six strikeouts and no walks in the five innings he pitched. Clearly, these numbers will calm the heck down as the season goes on. But for right now, there is a team right next door that's a hell of a good time. Let's go.
The Rainiers play tonight, at 6:05 PST. Watch on MiLB.tv or listen on 850 AM in the Seattle/Tacoma area, or here if you're out of town.