When we were kids my brother and I would yell, “Drop it! Drop it!” on just about every fly ball much to the annoyance of our father. One weekend morning the Mariners were playing in Boston and we yelled, “Drop it! Drop it!” on a fly ball to Darren Bragg. He caught it. And then, he dropped it. It was an incredible moment of triumph for us. “See it worked!” I remember telling my dad, as if that happening was anything other than coincidence or luck.
I think back on that moment every time I see an outfielder drop a ball, and somewhere in my mind I’m still yelling, “Drop it! Drop it!” as if I can possibly influence what’s happening in a baseball game I’m watching on tv.
Tonight, a bit of childhood glee arose as Ben Gamel hit a fly ball to the Athletic’s centerfielder Mark Canha. Canha would catch the ball, and then, he would drop the ball:
It was good luck for the Mariners, a sure out turned into a base runner. It felt good to have a piece of luck go their way. Lefty Gomez claimed he’d rather be lucky than good, and sometimes I agree.
The Mariners have a good baseball team, but luck has so often spun them off course. The domino effect of pitcher injuries is nothing more than bad luck. In fact, the day started with news that the Mariner’s extended spring training game was cancelled today due to a lack of pitching.
That seems about right. The Mariners currently have nine pitchers on the disabled list, and manager Scott Servais admitted to the press that he doesn’t know much about Casey Lawrence, a right-hander brought up from Tacoma to provide another arm in the bullpen. Coming into the game Steve Cishek wouldn’t be available, and Marc Rzepczynski and Dan Altavilla would only be used under dire circumstances.
The starter tonight was Christian Bergman. It would be his third appearance and second start for the Mariners. He started last Friday in Toronto, going 5 innings and allowing 3 runs. Tonight, he would be the hero the Mariners desperately needed. Maybe it was luck. Maybe the marine layer and speedy outfield endeared themselves to him after pitching for Colorado in his previous Major League stints. Maybe he’s a better pitcher than we imagined.
His line itself is impressive: 7.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 SO. 7 of his strikeouts were swinging, and all night the A’s failed to put bat on ball. He became the first Mariner starting pitcher to record an out in the eighth inning since James Paxton did it on April 15th. He was removed after recording his out in the eighth inning and reaching 105 pitches.
A nice note on Bergman: He is able to field his position! He made this play in the top of the fifth:
James Pazos came in to finish up the game. He struck out three and gave up no hits, sparing us from the late inning bullpen theatrics that defined the other games in the series.
That fly ball wasn’t the only time Lady Luck would give Gamel a boost. In the first inning, he lined a triple past right fielder Matt Joyce:
He would score on Nelson Cruz’s sacrifice fly.
In the fifth inning the Mariners added 3 more runs. Boog Powell led off the inning with a walk followed by a Guillermo Heredia single. With runners on first and second, Tuffy Gosewisch bunted (a wise move given his struggles at the plate) and moved them into scoring position. Jean Segura extended his hitting streak and drove in both runners with a single.
Gamel reached on the dropped fly ball and a Nelson Cruz groundout scored Segura for the final run of the game.
It was a satisfying game. Luck played a role, but this is also a good baseball team. That performance by Bergman felt lucky (because he avoided injury, if for no other reason), but he was pitching really well. All night he had fantastic command. He threw strikes they couldn’t hit. He got out after out. He stuck around into the eighth inning. It wasn’t just luck.
As our own Andrew Rice points out on Twitter:
For comparison: Only 3 teams in MLB history have sustained a wRC+ of >121 for a whole season. Each of those teams was anchored by Babe Ruth.— Andrew Rice (@Andrew_Rice) May 18, 2017
This team is good. This team needs more pitching like tonight.
Luck, please help us out with those injuries!
- The time of game was a breezy 2:39. Nice break from games lasting more than 3 hours.
- Nelson Cruz drove in two runs on outs. He didn’t look too pleased with himself on either.
- Today was Ben Gamel’s 25th birthday. Nice of the A’s to give him a couple gifts.
- Jean Segura’s hitting streak is now at 16 games. It’s the longest current streak in baseball.