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Mariners Almost Win; Don’t Win

Some rollercoasters are fun. Others aren't.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

This story’s narrative flipped a few times. The first six innings were a drag. An injury-depleted Mariners got a solid start from Chase De Jong; however a couple mistakes in two separate innings would yield four runs. Meanwhile, an offense that seemed unstoppable a week ago went cold as they learned that Robinson Cano - arguably the heartbeat of the lineup - parted for the disabled list. If nothing else, the game felt forgettable.

But let’s take a look at the first two thirds of this game, just for fun.

Chase De Jong likes to operate around the edges of the zone. This largely was effective for him tonight, but also led to a few hiccups. The first bit of trouble came in the second inning. De Jong got up 0-1 on Yonder Alonso, but narrowly missed the zone on the next four pitches, and eventually walked him. Again, De Jong fell down 3-1, this time to Ryon Healy. De Jong attempted to stay low in the zone, targeting the outer half of the plate against the A’s slugger. His fifth pitch of the at bat, however, caught a little too much of the zone.

One swing of the bat later, the Mariners are down 2-1.

De Jong buckled down and threw a scoreless third, but ran into more trouble in the fourth. Up 1-2 on Mark Canha, De Jong left a fastball in the lower-middle of the zone, yielding a leadoff double.

Steven Vogt followed suit, driving a changeup into right field for a RBI double.

Later in the inning, Josh Phegley extended the lead to 4-1 with a single to center. De Jong got ahead in the count early, but left a slider over the middle.

De Jong’s other four innings of work were spotless. He was operating on the edge of the zone, getting a lot of harmless contact. Take a look at this Yonder Alonso ground out as an example:

De Jong’s effort was applaudable, but the offense wasn’t holding up their end of the bargain.

But baseball is a weird game. It’s amazing how it can feel like nothing is going your teams’ way until a few lucky bounces totally flip the script.

Down 4-1 in the seventh, Taylor Motter hit a one out single to initiate a rally. Guillermo Heredia fought a swinging bunt down the third base line to put runners on the corners. Then, Jarrod Dyson was hit by a pitch after falling down 1-2. Somehow, with only one bit of solid contact, the Mariners were knocking.

Luck continued to favor the Mariners when a Carlos Ruiz grounder scooted through Ryon Healy’s legs, plating a pair of runners.

The Mariners had runners on first and third again, this time down only a run. Jean Segura stepped into the box and bounced a first-pitch fastball up the middle. Attempting to turn two, Adam Rosales nabbed Ruiz at second and threw to first. Initially, Segura was called out; however, further review revealed that Segura was safe at first. Somehow, the Mariners tied the game.

The Mariners added another run in the eighth, this time by an actually impressive offensive showcase (see below).

The Mariners entered the ninth inning with a 5-4 lead. They did not exit the ninth inning with a 5-4 lead.

We learned this morning that Edwin Diaz would be taking a break from his ninth-inning role for a little bit, leaving recently activated Steve Cishek with closing duties for the night. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.

Cishek fell behind in the count to the first two batters he faced. This forced him to throw fastballs in the middle third to both of them. The first batter, Rajai Davis, lined a single to center. The next, Matt Joyce, reclaimed the lead with a two-run dinger.

Oakland would go on to score three more runs that inning, all from a a Mark Canha homer of Marc Rzepcyznski.

Tonight’s loss was unfortunate; there’s no doubt about that. That is baseball, though. That stuff just happens. When a pitcher has just one third of an inning under his belt for the season, protecting a one-run lead in the ninth can be a tall task. Someone had to eventually hit a homer against Scrabble.

Instead of focusing on the sadder points of the game, here are a few fun things:

  • Nelson Cruz did this:
  • Boog Powell had his first major league hit and RBI:
  • Dan Altavilla hit 100 MPH today.

Tomorrow, the Mariners have a chance to take the first series of their home stand.

Until then...

Go M’s.