The Mariners won a baseball game. A starting pitcher went six innings. Nelson Cruz made a baseball scream. Mike Zunino had multiple hits. Guillermo was Guillermo.
It all went right for the Mariners today.
So much went right, in fact, that it’s probably best if we walk through each performance and break it all down, player by player. Here we go:
6 IP, 2 H, R, 2 BB, 4 K. Something something get revenge something something.
Look, facing your team is probably all kinds of fun with a pinch of weirdness and a dash of adrenaline, and Erasmo was fantastic tonight. Maybe our standards are low–scratch that, our standards are low–but one run on two hits over six innings feels like a complete game shutout at this point. He ran into serious trouble early on, facing a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the bottom of the second inning, but managed to escaped unharmed. His only surrendered run would come in his sixth and final inning when Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier slashed a leadoff double and later scored on a Lucas Duda sacrifice fly.
He threw 90 pitches on the night, 57 of which found the strike zone. At one point he retired eleven in a row. It was the kind of outing this whole pitching staff desperately needed, and the kind that will keep them in the playoff hunt if they’re able to get a few more of. What a job by Erasmo tonight. What a job.
2-for-3, 2 doubles, 2 RBI
If you take anything away from Mike Zunino’s performance today, please let it be that he swung like this and still managed to hit the ball ~400 feet:
Pruitt’s breaking ball fooled him badly, but Zunino managed to go down and get it. Off the bat, it looked like it just might be deep enough to be a sac fly, but then it just kept carrying.
The ball made it all the way to the center field wall, igniting a race between Guillermo Heredia and Ben Gamel:
It was one of those moments where I found myself marveling at a display of strength. Being able to hit a ball that hard, that far, with every ounce of his weight shifting forward is absurd and my point is that if you ever need help lifting heavy objects you should call Mike Zunino.
3-for-5, 2 doubles, home run
It’s the ninth inning. The Mariners are comfortably ahead, 6-1. Your fiancee asks you to run to the store real quick and grab a couple ingredients for dinner. No big deal, right? Wrong, my friend, dead wrong. You see, the moment you step out that door, Nelson Cruz is going to do this:
I remember walking back into my apartment and seeing that the Mariners had added one final run before finishing the Rays off. You always assume a batter or two plopped a soft single into the outfield and, somewhere amongst the tediousness of the ninth inning of a blowout, came around to score.
Nope. Not even a little bit.
Nelson Cruz did horrible things to that baseball. Nelson Cruz put that baseball through hell. Nelson Cruz was LEGO and that baseball was foot. Nelson Cruz was thunder and lightning and that baseball the tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Nelson Cruz was the Prestige and that baseball fell through the floor and into the locked water chamber.
Nelson Cruz is fun. I love Nelson Cruz.
2.1 IP, 5 K, H, BB
James Pazos has been up-and-down this season, but when things are going right for him, he is so very dangerous. Things were right tonight, as he turned in 2.1 terrific innings striking out five and allowing just two baserunners. 25 of his 34 pitches were strikes. He was actually missing over the plate quite a bit tonight, but the stuff was so filthy that it barely mattered. Brad Miller couldn’t touch him. Corey Dickerson couldn’t touch him. Keirmaier couldn’t touch him. It was truly a pleasure to watch.
I feel like there was a highlight play every single inning.
Kyle Seager made a diving stop in the fifth inning. Robinson Cano slid down and caught a bullet off the bat of Kiermaier in the third inning. Jean Segura pulled this off in the fifth inning:
Guillermo Heredia was constantly making nice plays out in center field all game long. Fun was had all over the field tonight and I can’t stress enough how much, well, fun it was to watch.
In terms of sheer entertainment, this was one of the best games of the season for me. Between the massive home run, the defense, Zunino’s golf swing of doom, and the pitching staff actually turning in a strong night, this game had it all. And with the Angels losing, the Mariners now sit just a half-game back of the final wild card spot.
Buckle up, everyone, it’s about to get bumpy.