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Chase De Jong pulls within 5,712 strikeouts of Nolan Ryan, Mariners lose

(Insert Moneyball joke or something here)

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Mariners lost to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, 4-3.

It was the worst kind of baseball game, the kind where you never really feel like your team has a chance to win, but they keep it close enough to where you never really want to look away. Stupid things happen in baseball all the time, and there’s always a chance that one of those stupid things will occur today.

Today was not one of those days. The Mariners threatened, at one point putting the tying run just ninety feet away from home after Jaff Decker played center fielder exactly as well as you’d expect someone named Jaff to play center field, but they never managed to get all the way back.

Things started out promising enough in the top of the first, when Robinson Cano deposited a 94 mph fastball over the center field wall for a solo home run. It was a pretty great shot, the kind that reminds you just how good of a hitter Robinson Cano is when he’s locked in.

Everything was great for all of about five minutes.

Ariel Miranda, tosser of seven shutout innings in his previous outing, started out his afternoon by leaving a splitter here:

It wasn’t the worst location, but he left it up just enough for Rosales, who proceeded to drive the pitch 410 feet for a game-tying smash.

Two batters later, Miranda once again left a pitch up, this time a 92 mph fastball to power-hitting Ryon Healy:

Same mistake, same result: Healy sent the pitch 388 feet and just over the yellow line out in left field. In an instant, the Mariners were down 3-1.

Miranda’s fourth and final surrendered run of the night would come two innings later, when the Athletics opened the bottom of the third with a Jed Lowrie single and Healy double. His final line on the day: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 K. It honestly could’ve been much worse, but he was also just two mistakes away from surrendering only one run. Glass half-full, glass half-empty, yada yada yada. Either way, the appearance left the Mariners in desperate need of a strong outing from the bullpen to keep the ship afloat and stay in it.

Enter Chase De Jong: Pitching Machine.

De Jong had one previous MLB outing, a relief appearance in Houston where he was tasked with shutting down one of the best lineups in baseball in one of the ballparks most poorly-suited for his extreme-fly ball style. It did not go well.

He was much better today, allowing just three baserunners (two hits, walk) over four shutout innings. He also recorded the first two strikeouts of his MLB career, both looking. Some of his fly ball outs barely managed to stay in the park, but it was an encouraging performance all the same. Edwin Diaz tossed an easy eighth inning to finish off the bullpen’s stellar day.

On the offensive side of things, the Mariners had two real chances to tie things up, both coming late in the game. They started out the eighth inning by getting both Cano (single) and Cruz (walk) on. Following a Taylor Motter double play, pinch-hitter Kyle Seager drove a pitch off the center field wall for a RBI triple, cutting the deficit to 4-3. Guillermo Heredia nearly drove home Seager immediately after, but a slick play by Lowrie on Heredia’s weak grounder ended the inning.

The next opportunity came in the 9th inning, when Jarrod Dyson singled and stole second with two outs in the ninth. Literal perfect human being Mitch Haniger was unable to bring him home, however, striking out on a high fastball to end the game. He is still perfect, regardless.

The loss drops the Mariners to 7-12, which is not great:

To the bullet points!

  • The scouting report for Taylor Motter appears to be officially changing. He was pitched away pretty heavily, with the only at-bat on the day featuring multiple inside pitches coming when Cotton couldn’t locate a pitch to save his life.
  • Danny Valencia’s struggles continued. He saw two whole pitches in his first two at-bats, weakly popping up in both instances. In his third at-bat, he struck out on four pitches.
  • At one point, Mike Zunino worked a count to 2-0 and proceeded to swing at a fastball that nearly bounced. This was a pretty solid summary of Zunino’s 2017 season thus far.
  • The eight-man bullpen is going just fine:

For those keeping score at home, that is Leonys Martin, Kyle Seager, and Carlos Ruiz. Sure, the flexibility is there with Motter and Freeman where you can adjust if an injury happens, but this whole situation is very silly.

  • Guillermo Heredia struck out for the first time in 2017 today. I enjoy watching him play baseball.