There are some good things about being an adult—determining your own bedtime, deciding it’s okay to have cake for dinner just this once, granting yourself the privilege to binge all of Lady Dynamite over one weekend—but there are many, many more things that offer all the delight of doing shots of apple cider after you’ve had a root canal performed by Edward Scissorhands. One of these is birthdays lose their magic. Gone are the days of the world treating you like you’re the most special angel to ever fall out of heaven on your one special day and actually I’m going to need you to close tonight and did you ever call about the insurance and what is this on top of the fridge how can dirt be sticky?
So tonight was Scott Servais’s birthday and the Mariners did not gift him a win. They didn’t even gift him a close game. Instead, Nate Karns—the last functional wheel on the rickety shopping cart of the rotation—faltered. He started out by giving up a single to Jurickson Profar that turned into a double when Shawn O’Malley, getting the start in CF, dove and missed. Ian Desmond pulled an inside pitch for a single and then Mazara sent Profar home on a sacrifice fly. After Beltre flew out, Rougned Odor—who walked out to a lengthy ovation from the Texas crowd—singled, which sent a speedy Desmond to third. Then Ryan Rua, in a 2-1 count, lifted a double on an 80 mph curve at the bottom of the zone to score Desmond and Odor and suddenly the Mariners were staring down a 3-0 deficit in the first inning, a feeling that’s starting to become unpleasantly familiar. The Mariners would get a run in the second to make it 3-1, but that was as close as they would get all night. Karns would leave the game in the fifth without recording an out, with Texas leading 5-3.
Karns will garner much criticism for his pitching performance tonight, some deserved and some not. The three runs Karns allowed in the first inning matched his season total for the number of runs he’s allowed in first innings. The five walks he allowed are a new season high; his previous high was four, and in all of his May starts he only allowed three total. Look, I haven't made a secret of the fact that I love Karns, who always seems to be pitching when I'm recapping. And by the various tracers I looked at, he was getting squeezed. Here's an example of a typical sequence:
The first pitch to Odor is Karns's knuckle curve, which was only the third offspeed pitch he'd thrown yet in the inning. Karns was leaning early on his fastball, which was up at a high velocity (for him) of 94 mph in that first inning. He follows that up with a 93 mph fastball that was borderline, but called a ball, and then tries to sneak a high fastball past Odor that he manages to turn into a little parachute drop into left that sent Desmond (aboard on a first-pitch bunt base hit) to third. This would be the pattern for the evening: Karns, frustrated, continued to try to work the edges of the zone, refusing to give in to Texas's dangerous lineup. Unfortunately, a combination of not getting borderline calls against the patient Texas hitters and those hitters punishing Karns's mistakes (on the bright side, if you have the "curveball that doesn't curve" punch card I think you've earned a free drink) pushed the score further and faster than the Mariners' bats could catch up with. I'm not sure what is more frustrating: watching excellent pitching, as we did in 2014 and 2015, be hamstrung by no run support; or watching a potent offense be rendered meaningless by knock-kneed pitching performances. But look, it wasn't all bad. Filthy Karns is still there, you guys. This will be fine.
Karns wasn't able to be bailed out by the bullpen this time (I miss the Karns/Montgomery pairing, you guys), as Vidal Nuño came in and promptly gave up, I don't have the numbers in front of me, 752 hits? That seems right. To be fair, Nuño came in with two on and none out, but the three-run homer he served up to Elvis Andrus kicked the game from "fighting chance" to "but we're not done rehydrating the pixies yet" territory. Steve Johnson gave up a mammoth home run to Nomar Mazara, whose name is so annoyingly close to a palindrome and yet not, but other than that managed to keep the Rangers penned up, thanks in part from a nifty catch in the outfield by Shawn O'Malley:
But then Canó was all hey Shawn that's actually my thing?
And that was kind of it. Scott Servais took a little extra time tidying up his stuff, waiting to see if anyone would stop by his desk, before turning out the lights and heading home. Adulthood sucks, you guys.