When I was a little kid, one of the most frustrating things in the world was being told “because I said so” by adults. “Because that’s the way it is,” “because I’m older and know better,” and “just because” were all honorable mentions. I’m sure that there were usually decent reasons behind these dismissive rebuttals, but that didn’t make them less frustrating. Why was it so frustrating? Probably because it seemed like they were making up rules on the spot. Rules that seemed so out-of-place, arbitrary, and random. What was the point of following them?
I bet that a young Jarrod Dyson felt the same way. “What do you mean I can’t have a second animal cracker?” implored the eight-year-old Jarrod. “You let me have three yesterday!”
“Because, Jarrod. I said so.” stated Cecilia Dyson, unflinchingly. An unwavering stone wall in between Jarrod and his animal cracker. And of course, Jarrod, as with all young children in the care of adults, had no choice but to accept his animal cracker-less fate.
It makes sense, then, that Jarrod Dyson, now 32, would feel a little bitter about the unwritten rules. The rules that don’t make any sense. The rules that seem like they’re just there to stop us from having a good time. When Dyson went up to bat with one out in the sixth inning of a perfect game, those senseless rules all told him that he had to take his usual feeble swings at a red-hot Justin Verlander. That he wasn’t allowed to use his biggest advantage. That he had to effectively neuter himself as a baseball player because a bunch of really old dudes decided that that’s how things should be.
I like to imagine that Jarrod went up there, ready to swing. Unwilling to bunt. A war began to rage inside his head, and eventually, common sense took hold. Jarrod Dyson is fast, and he decided he was going to actually try to win the baseball game instead of adhering to archaic principles, gosh darn it. I mean, in reality, Scott Servais probably signaled for him to bunt. But the day you stop imagining is the day that you die, right?
In all seriousness, when Jarrod Dyson bunted, the Mariners had a 6.8% chance of winning. That is five times higher than the rate of lung cancer in two-pack-a-day smokers (source) (note: I am not suggesting that smoking is a good idea). If anybody actually believes that it was at all wrong of him to bunt, then they are delusional. He did his job, and even if the Mariners had lost, it still would have been acceptable.
Of course, the follow-up to that bunt made it all the sweeter watching the crotchety people of Twitter lose their collective marbles. Mike Zunino (!) worked a beautiful seven-pitch walk off of Verlander. Jean Segura got some BABIP luck, Ben Gamel laced a line drive to left, and Nelson Cruz took the worlds most-hanging-curveball for a double. Just like that, it felt like an actual baseball game again.
Just because it’s funny, look at where James McCann called for this curveball.
Versus where it ended up.
A 4-0 game that had had the fan-base in collective despondency at the thought of a perfect game was suddenly winnable. Not only that, it felt like the Mariners couldn’t do anything but win, at that point.
Part of the reason for that unusual sense of security was a magnificent job by the bullpen. Tony Zych and Nick Vincent combined for a pristine 2.2 innings of relief, allowing only two baserunners between them. Their respective ERAs, by the way, are 2.08 and 1.80. Did you realize they’d been that good? I hadn’t.
Next inning, Mitch Haniger took Shane Green deep to tie it up. Two quick outs followed, but that felt fine. They would win it in the eighth or the ninth. Except they didn’t have to. Remember how fun it was in 2001? One of the slogans that became ubiquitous on signs and shirts throughout the ballpark was “Two outs, so what?” Those times are long in the past, but it feels no less amazing when the Mariners manage to put together a big rally with two outs.
Jean Segura walked. Ben Gamel singled. Robinson Cano doubled them both in. Nelson Cruz singled in Cano. It was really that easy. After that bunt, it felt like winning was effortless. In four batters, the team’s chance of winning went from 52% to 94%, but it honestly felt like it was 100% the whole time. Like this team didn’t even really need to try. Like they were simply fulfilling their duty of getting a few more big hits before turning the game over to Edwin Diaz.
Of course, Edwin Diaz needed to keep some modicum of suspense for the paying fans.
Mariners bullpen is contractually obligated to somehow get the tying run to the plate in the 9th— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) June 22, 2017
Still, despite a home run, the ninth inning was over fairly quickly. What had felt like a real chance at being the MLB’s 24th perfect game in history turned into the Mariners’ offense and bullpen just showing off.
God, I wish I could look as casual walking to the bus stop as Robinson Cano looks winning a game like that.
A quick note about James Paxton. His results weren’t spectacular, but he did look a lot better than he has since coming off of the DL. This was his fourth start, and his velocity was all the way back up to normal for the most part. He got hosed by a combination of poor BABIP luck and an inconsistent strike zone. No, he wasn’t perfect, but he’s still really good. Don’t worry.
This game was a lot of fun, and a good reminder as to why you keep watching those games that just feel hopeless in the sixth inning. The Mariners have a chance to complete the four-game sweep tomorrow, and with Yovani Gallardo no longer in the starting rotation, Andrew Moore will make his MLB debut. The team has a chance to finally get above .500. It’s going to be a ton of fun. How couldn’t it be, with this team?