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Mariners Lose Nasty, Brutish, and Short Game

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a great leap in the dark

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics
“the source of every crime is a defect of understanding, in this instance your misunderstanding of the strike zone”
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The only good thing about this game was that it was relatively short (two hours, nineteen minutes!). The Mariners were due to crash after their improbable, awesome homestand; that doesn’t make the motor stalling out midflight feel any better, especially not against Sean Manaea, who managed to no-hit the Mariners through 4.75 innings despite a shaky command that would see him beginning each of the first three innings with a leadoff walk. But the Mariners, like polite guests, grounded into double plays to end any threat in each of those first three innings. Remember when this offense used to score one million runs? Yeah, me neither:

so far not so good

Joe Wieland started the game, and—there’s really no way to say this nicely—he was bad. Wieland doesn’t have the world’s flashiest stuff to begin with, but he was missing his spots and leaving pitches in the middle of the zone. This lead to the A’s basically doing this:

Here’s a summary of Wieland, by inning:

  • First inning: single (through the grace of Shawn O’Malley riding his hustle horse), RBI double, oppo HR

  • Second inning: fine, nothing to see here
  • Third inning: single, single, a questionable check swing strike three, GIDP
  • Fourth and fifth innings: five groundouts and a popout
  • Sixth inning: single, single, single (again, through the grace of Shawn O’Malley), single

So it was really just the sixth inning where Wieland fell apart, but he was starring in his personal version of Mother May I Sleep With Danger? for most of the night. Drew Storen took over and gave up a first-pitch single to Danny Valencia, but then righted the ship and was able to get professional whiner Jake Smolinski to ground into a double play and then get Ryon Healy, who is an MLB player and not the hero of a YA dystopian novel, to ground out. This is some pretty high-leverage work for Storen, and despite giving up the single, hopefully this is another shot of confidence for him. Nuño came on to work a scoreless seventh and eighth; he gave up two hits but otherwise stymied the Oakland hitters with his mix of sliders, change-ups, fastballs and curveballs. With the departure of Mike Montgomery, Nuño seems like the obvious replacement to take over the low-leverage long relief role, which I am totally, utterly at peace with.

On the offensive side, the Mariners just couldn’t get it going tonight. They were held hitless until Seager decided he’d had just about enough of that:

WHAT DO WE SAY TO DEATH, KYLE

The Mariners tried to get a little rally going in the sixth; Ketel hit a single and then Shawn O’Malley would like you to know he’s no flash in the pan:

Smolinksi misplays this (insert sound of me cackling here) to give O’Malley a triple, but this is the fun of having speed on the basepaths. Ketel scored, and then Gutiérrez hit a sac fly to score O’Malley and tie up the game. Unfortunately, that would be all the offense the Mariners could muster tonight. Hopefully the bats will come back tomorrow in a tougher matchup against Kendall Graveman; if not, the Mariners could find themselves undoing all the hard work they did over this homestand.