The invitation arrived in the mail, edged with delicate ivy and yellowed at the corners (which on second glance revealed itself to be pizza grease). A dinner party at Wrigley Field? How delightful, said Scott Servais, and signaled for Seth Smith to load up the Honda Odyssey. “I’m not so sure about this,” said Nelson Cruz, peering up at the gathering clouds. “Quiet, trade bait,” said Servais cheerfully. “Wait what did you say just now?” asked Canó. “Made weight,” said Servais, carefully folding Luis Sardiñas into the space above the wheel well. “I said made weight.”
The first murmurings of disquiet appear as the Odyssey makes its way up the long, twisting drive off I-80. (Actually, the first murmurings of disquiet had been back when Servais refused to stop the van for Steak-n-Shake back in Toledo). “I feel bad weather in my shoulder,” says Joaquín Benoit before remembering he doesn’t pitch for this team anymore and feeling a brief flash of gratitude, wherever he is. “Nonsense,” booms Servais, easing the Oddyssey onto the sidewalk in front of Wrigley Field. Kyle Seager arrives moments later, having chosen to jog over from Pittsburgh in penitence for having mistakenly answered “I”m good,” when Guti asked how he was doing (not good Kyle you are never good enough now drop and do twenty pushups every two miles). He takes in the gathering clouds with a slight wrinkle to his brow.
“Good eeeeeeeeevening,” intones David Ross, appearing suddenly in their midst with a great crack of his knees. “May I take your warmup jacket?” [Ross takes the jackets and shakes them. Two runs fall out and Ross sticks them in his pocket for later.] The flags hanging from the skeletal pirate sail in center field flutter like malevolent fingers. “I don’t feel great about this,” murmurs Iwakuma, sweat already appearing on his brow, but he has no choice; he passes through the gates of Wrigley Field, which clang shut behind him.
[Shawn O’Malley wanders in wearing a maid’s uniform, because he got last pick from the costume rack. He hits an infield single and steals second. “There goes my deposit,” sighs Kyle Seager, before striking out to end the inning.]
The victim: Hisashi Iwakuma’s ERA.
Iwakuma surveys the Cubs’ lineup with dismay before remembering poison isn’t a weapon in the original game and working around a Kris Bryant double to finish a scoreless first. It would be his only scoreless inning, and one of just three he would pitch. The Cubs had no problems picking up Kuma’s mix of off-speed offerings, and plated three runs in the first inning and two runs in the second. It should be the pitcher who has weapons to use against the hitters, but Kuma’s weapons were about as effective as the actual plastic ones that come with the board game. It was Ross with a slider on the outside corner clubbed to left field, Coghlan with a splitter low in the zone muscled into center, Kris Bryant with a splitter Iwakuma let hang in the zone, the Cubs out here just murdering baseballs, I write in my recap notes.
The victim: the Mariners RISP numbers.
What do you mean, there’s only one murder in Bleed Cubbie Clue? Clearly you haven’t seen this movie. By the third inning, the Mariners have stranded five runners. While the Cubs lineup excels at getting bottom of the order hitters on base—even with the unconscionably dumb lack of a designated hitter—in order to set up the big hitters, the Mariners can’t ever get both sides working in concert. If the bottom of the order bows and scrapes to get on base, the top/heart of the order responds with strikeouts. If the big guys take walks, the bottom of the order can’t seem to bring them in. At this point the Mariners are very much wishing they had taken David Ross’s suggestion to use aliases. James Professor Plum Paxton sinks back into the dugout like the human version of the Homer-in-the-bushes meme. Save yourself, James. I mean, Professor.
The victim: Nate Karns’s ERA
When Nate Karns showed up this season he was wearing the face of of promising lefty 4/5 guy with a killer curveball, before pulling off his mask to reveal Carlos Silva before pulling off that mask to reveal Ryan Feierabend. Over the last seven games, Karns has pitched 13.1 innings and given up 13 runs, good for an ERA of 8.78. (One might question how much you can kill something that’s already dead, but this argument is largely academic). Remember that scene in Clue where they’re all moving around the cumbersome body of the Cook?
To be fair, Karns muddles through the fourth okay, locating his pitches well on the corners of the zone to strike out Coghlan on three pitches, then giving up a hit and a stolen base to Kris Bryant because Bryant is fast and the Iannetta/Karns battery makes your Uncle Morty look fleet of foot, a fact that’s put into action when Anthony Rizzo walks into second base like he’s measuring it for curtains. Karns manages to wiggle out of the inning, however, and then comes up to bat in the next inning because he’s the long reliever now? Nothing else really happens in that inning—the Mariners don’t score, of course—but Franklin Gutiérrez has taken this team on his back before, and he will again if that’s what it takes.
Please, Guti, let’s not have that be what it takes. Also of note: Karns would work a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, partly because Addison Russell has the plate discipline of a two-month-old Goldendoodle, before completely melting down in the sixth. Cut to shot of Mel Stottlemyre Jr. ostensibly gobbling sunflower seeds but there’s no proof they weren’t antacids. Or Vicodin. Nuño comes in to attempt to put out the fire but winds up giving up another run, and also there’s a pop fly in foul territory that Guti trips over the damn bullpen mound trying to get to and so help me I will burn Wrigley to the ground I will watch that ivy send up a smoke cloud over all of Lake Michigan but he appears to be okay, because this movie is just rated R, after all, it’s not a gonzo film or anything.
Victim: My afternoon
After an hour-plus rain delay, the Mariners came back, guns a-blazing, and mounted an enormous comeback, in line with what they did against San Diego. Guillermo Heredia hit a grand slam in his first plate appearance as a Mariner, and Tom Wilhelmsen, who was pitching at the time, gave him a ride around Wrigley on his shoulders.
Or: I sat around for an hour coming up with this ridiculous Clue motif. The Mariners failed to score even one lousy run. Mike Montgomery came in and pitched decently but not poorly enough that the Mariners scored runs, and not well enough that I could feel happy for him.
The Mariners scraped a run out because Shawn O’Malley just keeps finding ways to get his uniform dirty (Kyle will never see that money again). MiMo walked the bases loaded because his lake-effect pitching is without command, apparently. Canó came up with two outs and got into a 2-0 count before lacing a double down the right side that was foul by approximately the width of my dwindling hopes for this season, before lining out to end the game. In Clue, as everywhere else, the house always wins.
The real victim:
Our hopes and dreams.
Today’s game was so bad, it gave us one of the only perks of a bad game: position players pitching. Of course no one can forget the beautiful Jesús Sucre profile shot from last year, but Luís Sardiñas, who is really just happy to be here, had a ton of fun with his outing, and provided maybe the only smile in Mariners-land:
His final line: 8 pitches thrown, 3 for strikes; two ground outs and one fly out; the only Mariners pitcher today who did not give up a hit nor a run in his 1-2-3 inning. Gather ye rosebuds where ye may.