Well, the Mariners of Seattle again did not win a baseball game against the worst team in the game. They did not win this here baseball game because Wade Miley had himself one of them games, and also they did not win the game because of this:
M's had runner on third with less than two outs for six hitters and got two runs: one on Clevenger's double play and one on Aoki's single.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) May 29, 2016
Frustrating, yes. Surprising, no. And yet, here we are, ready to do it all over again in a couple of hours. So what went wrong?
Miley gave up two runs in the first inning. These came after a two-out single to Future Mariner Joe Maurer was driven in by a pulled dinger off the bat of Future Twin Miguel Sano. I hesitate calling this a mistake--his command wasn't exactly abysmal--but you can't call a two run shot in the first anything but a mistake unless you're like one of those double agents from an eighties Cold War spy movie where...wait...now that you mention it...
Miley ran into trouble again in the fifth, where it all fell apart. Although he threw a clean second, it took him 27 pitches to get out of the third, including four intentional balls to Future Twin Miguel Sano and four unintentional ones to Danny Santana to open the inning. None of them crossed the plate was providence--that Miley made it to the fifth with red flags sticking out of his pants was...typical.
But as we all know, this team is not the kind of team we are used to seeing roaming the Safeco greens. After Miley's first two in the first, Nori Aoki promptly looked at two low-nineties fastballs outside of the zone, and then slapped the third just over the head of Brian Dozier at first. Wait, no that's not right it was
WE'RE NEVER GOING TO LOSE AG--ah wait, getting ahead of myself here. The M's got one more on the board in the second, after Kyle Seager led off with a single, moved to second on a walk to Adam Lind, third on a single from Guti himself, and then ran home on a groundout double play off the bat of Steve Clevenger. They picked up more in the fourth after Guti, Clevenger, and Aoki all got into a few pitches, and for a moment the M's had the lead. Then, Miley.
The good news about these back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth games means that the Mariners are actually responding with a "back" or a "forth," depending on how you want to look at it. This one was messy--and sure, boy, it wasn't fun that it had to happen against the worst team out there. But in a way, you could kind of think of it like practice for what a good playoff game is going to feel like: you know, those comeback rallies killed by an overzealous reliever, topped off yet again by a walkoff blast in the ninth.
I guess. I don't know. Silver lining. Anyway, because that's what kind of a game this was, you had to know that they were going to come back yet again after Miley gave up two dingers in the fifth to give the Twins a one-run lead. And again, it came from an unlikely place:
It was Sardinas' second home run of the season, and it tied the game at 5-5 (spoiler: he struck out in the eighth). Having finally pulled Miley for his apparent wanton ping-pong desire, Servais gave MiMo a single inning of work, not counting the few final outs after replacing Miley in the fifth, and promptly tossed Nick Vincent out on the mound to work the seventh in a tie game. Because of how I prefaced that you can guess what happened, so all I'm going to say is that ping pong ping pong ping pong ping pong.
Headed into the 9th down a run, the M's knew they had to do something. And because they are officially, for the first time in over a decade, Not Bad®, they actually put something together. Nelson Cruz led off the inning with a seven-pitch walk that started on an 0-2 count, quickly replaced on the bags by Shawn O'Malley waiting on the bench. This was good. Kyle Seager, having seen each of those seven pitches off the right hand of Twins' temporary closer Kevin Jespen, roped the first pitch he saw into right field for a single, putting runners on the corners with no outs. This was also good. Dae-Ho Lee, who pinch-hit for Lind in the seventh, flew out to right field on an Extremely Hittable Pitch, which is not exactly good but could also have resulted in a sac fly so you can't say it's bad. Then, this. This was.....this was Bad.
I don't even know what to say about this. There's the outside pitch, the lucky stop by Twins catcher Juan Centeno, and his timely throw to second. Seager was, I don't know. His biggest mistake was not running on the pitch before, which was outside and in the same spot. But once he saw it again the Twins were ready for him: they Oops-ed him two-thirds of the way back to first before O'Malley tried to cause a diversion by dancing between third and home. I'm not sure O'Malley was actually trying to score here as much as he was trying to keep the Twins' focus off Kyle, but man, watch this replay again before the game ends and watch how long they focus on Kyle before O'Malley finally gets the tag. I don't know what that says about how far away the bases are from each other, how bad the Twins are, how much professional athletes can fart for brains, or just how ridiculous baseball can be when it wants to. I'm going to go ahead and say all of the above.
But it's not all bad news. The Mariners remain in first place, and while they just dropped another series at home, they can easily avoid the sweep here in a couple of hours with Taijuan on the Mound. Nori Aoki has quietly brought his wRC+ up to 91, and Steve Clevenger looks like the backup catcher we never had since that one crazy year where they all hit grand slams every other week. The Mariners got on base or scored in every single inning, and while stranding runners isn't something to celebrate, you have to have runners in order for them to be stranded in the first place. Much of this recent run has come from the result of that typical bad luck there evening out to the other side.
Taijuan takes the mound at 1 this afternoon and the M's will look to steady the ship before the ever-important Vedder Cup is upon us.