As I’m typing this, I have the Double-A team, the Arkansas Travelers, on in the background, and they just committed one of the sloppiest errors I’ve ever seen in pro baseball: the catcher made a lousy throw back in with the ball, the pitcher missed it, the ball trickled into center field, the second baseman realized what was going on late and went to collect the ball to throw it back in, and the catcher wasn’t in the right position to tag out a runner coming home. It was a Gordian knot of failure, a densely woven nexus of everyone not doing their jobs. It’s also a pretty apt description of today’s Mariners game.
First of all, let’s examine who is exempt from blame:
- Ben Gamel had a two-out single in the fourth that scored two runs and got the Mariners on the board after the Yankees led, 3-0. He did this off a left-handed starting pitcher, because Ben Gamel cares not for your splits, he is more of a herkie/pike jump kind of guy. He also had a couple nice grabs in the outfield and almost came up with a game-saving catch.
- Guillermo Heredia: In that same inning, Heredia had a two-out double that scored two runs and gave the Mariners a 4-3 edge for their only lead of the day. He also made two incredible outfield plays, plus a handful of other ones that would look incredible if we weren’t so spoiled by the consistent high level of play in the outfield.
- That’s it. Those are all the runs the Mariners scored. They all came in one inning, and they all came from two guys.
- Also exempt from blame: Emilio Pagan, who was fantastic yet again in a long relief role. Pagan pitched three innings and allowed just two hits and no runs, issuing just one walk and striking out four. In the seventh, he gave up a double to Clint Frazier, but rebounded to strike out Todd Frazier and Ronald Torreyes, both swinging. In the ninth, with one out, he walked a batter before getting Didi Gregorius to fly out, and then gave up a double to Chase Headley, but the Yankees got greedy and tried to send Jacoby Ellsbury, pinch runner, home. Robinson Canó wasn’t having it.
Okay, good job boys. Over there, see where the light is? With the harp music? Go on over and get yourself some ice cream.
Now. For the rest of you. [Sound of door slamming.] Let’s assign some blame.
First circle of blame: [The only food here is cheese curls; the only TV is reruns of Friends.]
- Yovani Gallardo. Look. I get it. Yovani is tormented by the long ball, and the Yankees score all their runs on the long ball. Brett Gardner hunts fastballs early in the count, Gallardo needs to establish the fastball early, the wind was carrying out to right field, etc. etc. etc. And the pitch to Gregorius wasn’t even that bad:
Maybe the curveball didn’t break hard enough, but it’s hard to be mad about that pitch to a left-handed batter. The difficulty came after, when Gallardo then walked Headley on four pitches, then gave up a double to newly-promoted Tyler Wade. Luckily, he got Gardner to ground out after to end the inning, but things felt dangerously close to the kind of big inning that has sunk Gallardo and the Mariners before. This pattern would repeat in the fourth, when Gallardo would give up another solo shot to Gregorius—again, not a terrible pitch, a slider on the inside corner that Gregorius turned on and just barely squeaked over the fence. But again, Gallardo would issue a single and then a walk and only be rescued by a double play that was later overturned before getting baseball player/Garbage Pail Kid Clint Frazier to fly out.
To be fair, though, it wasn’t Gallardo’s worst performance. It was about what you sign up for with Yovani Gallardo: three runs, all on solo home runs. He worked around a zone with about six inches shaved off the bottom and still was able to locate most of his pitches. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t horrible. It was Yovani.
Also, fun fact:
Yovani Gallardo would have the third best ERA on the Orioles.— Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) July 23, 2017
- The majority of the Mariners batters belong here, probably. Kyle Seager hit two doubles! That’s great! He also struck out with the bases loaded. Cano had one hit, and approximately 23052 lazy rollers into the shift. Danny Valencia had a hit! He also struck out three times.
Second circle of blame: [The only food here is dry Top Ramen; Air Supply plays on constant loop]
- Mitch Haniger was 0-4 today and left five runners on base. He was continually reaching for pitches. Where hath your plate discipline gone, Mitchard? Haniger also made a nonproductive out with the bases loaded. Bad Mitchell.
Third circle of blame: [The only food here is what’s left in the case at the end of the night shift at AM/PM. The KARS FOR KIDS jingle plays on a constant loop.]
- Jean Segura went 0-4. He saw fourteen pitches today. He was 1-19 in this series. He took exactly 0 walks. It feels like it’s been a while since the heart-stopping, game saving play of the win against the Astros. Please no more feast or famine, Jean.
- James Pazos. After the Mariners came back to take a lead in the fourth, it was Pazos’s job to protect that lead, which he did about as well as museums have protected Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. Pazos simply didn’t have any semblance of his command today, issuing two walks and giving up two hits while only recording one walk. Which leads me to...
- Scott Servais. I understand wanting to let young pitchers work through things. But we’ve seen Pazos struggle and not be able to regain command on the mound this year. If the Mariners are punting on 2017 and just letting their young pitchers struggle through adversity, uhh okay I guess? But boy it would have been nice to win this game.
Fourth circle of blame: [The only food here is scorpions. The only music is screaming.]
- Taylor Motter. What in the
Tomorrow the Mariners will open up a series against the Red Sox, which will probably feel like deja ewww if you were at any of the games this weekend. At least we are freed from the tyranny of 99 jerseys everywhere and full-grown men in judges’ robes and powdered wigs (which, point of fact, are worn by British judges! In Britain! You know, the people THE YANKEES fought against?). Today is certainly a buzzkill after yesterday’s elation, and the road ahead doesn’t seem to get any easier. The starting pitching is what it is. The bullpen makes a Gatsby party look like a sober, restrained affair. The bats have to, have to, have to be able to do a better job of picking up their pitching. Get it together, you Mariners.
Bonus content: Here’s Thyago Vieira recording his first save as a Tacoma Rainier. I just thought you could use a smile.