This afternoon began with a dream of a sweep. The tool used for sweeping, of course is a broom. With hopes of accomplishing their mission, the Mariners arrived to Safeco field brooms in hand. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to hit Chris Sale, especially with a broom.
The handle of the broom is quite narrow. Looking on the internet, I found that handles have a diameter around 1.125 inches. For perspective, a baseball bat’s diameter can be up to 2.61 inches. Additionally, broom handles vary in length, but rarely exceed two feet, while a baseball bat may be up to 42 inches. You can imagine the difficulty of making contact with a moving baseball using a broom, right? Now add the fact that Chris Sale, who strikes out nearly 13 batters per nine innings, is on the hill. That right there is a heck of a challenge.
Well, Chris Sale was as Chris Sale as he could have been today. He only allowed two baserunners in the same inning once, while striking out 11 in seven innings. Mariners hitters showed a lot of frustration later in the game with the strike zone. Here’s one called strike three that Mitch Haniger did not enjoy:
That said, Chris Sale was pretty darn untouchable. Take a look at this sequence, where he nabbed Ben Gamel with a slider away before blowing a fastball at the top of the zone by Nelson Cruz.
Here’s Gamel’s at bat:
Sale was hitting 96 with regularity, while painting corners. That’s really hard to hit, particularly with a broom.
There is a wider part of the broom, which may be easier to make contact with. This is the head of the broom, which typically is around a foot wide; however, the head of the broom is made of bristles, and wouldn’t generate hard contact when met with a baseball.
The Mariners struggled to make a lot of hard contact today. They did have a pair of doubles, though one was the product of speed and hustle from Guillermo Heredia.
Otherwise, Chris Sale made quick work of the Mariners’ lineup, rarely surrendering threatening contact and limiting baserunners to one or fewer in six of his seven innings.
Sale was absolutely cruising through the first five innings, having thrown 75 pitches and not showing any signs of slowing down. That’s when Ben Gamel, baseball hitting-hero set out to do the impossible. Broom in hard, he entered the batters box and looked Sale dead in the face. What followed will certainly be taught in history classes for years to come.
Fastballs topping out at 97 followed by sliders on the edge, Gamel wasn’t getting anything easy to hit.
But Ben was determined, and fought off four(!) pitches with two strikes and eventually worked the count full. The at bats 10th pitch was a 97 MPH fastball just off the inside corner, which Gamel looped into right field for a base knock.
This 10-pitch plate appearance helped push Chris Sale’s pitch count up. He would end up throwing 30 more pitches before getting pulled after seven innings. Maybe Sale would have gone the distance if Gamel didn’t put up such a valiant fight. Who knows? But we thank you, Ben, for always finding ways to get hits. Even with a broom, you can beat the league’s best pitchers.
With Sale out of the game, the Mariners finally threatened to score in the ninth. A Seager single and Heredia walk put a pair on with one out in the ninth. That’s when Craig Kimbrel made his way out of the pen and onto the bump. Mitch Haniger and Carlos Ruiz never saw a fastball from Kimbrel slower than 98 MPH. Each one was thrown at the top of the zone as well. Try hitting that with a broom.
Andrew Moore started for the Mariners, and was solid. A rare walk would eventually come around to score on a sac fly, and two homers accounted for three more runs. Both homers came off pitches that caught the middle of the plate. The first was a fastball to Rafael Devers.
The other was a curveball to Sandy Leon.
Otherwise, Moore pitched well. He faced the minimum in the first, fifth, sixth, and retired the two he faced in the seventh. He allowed seven baserunners in six and two thirds, and flashed a lethal changeup (I could not find the video of him fanning Sandy Leon with a changeup but trust me, it was nice).
Speaking of lethal, Emilio Pagan flaunted some impressive stuff with his back against the wall in the eighth. He entered with a runner on and no one out. He gave up a single to Dustin Pedroia and hit Hanley Ramirez on a 1-2 pitch to load the bases. That’s when Pagan left the real world and entered the zone. He sat the next two batters he faced on strikes, hurling high fastballs by them with excellent location and velocity. Here’s his strikeout of Mitch Moreland:
He ended the inning with a soft groundout to Danny Espinosa, but it was far from routine.
Andrew Moore and the bullpen put forth an applaudable performance, limiting the Red Sox to four runs on nine hits. Alas, there effort came up short, as the offense learned how hard it is to hit baseball with brooms.