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Weird, Painful, Beautiful M’s Snag Series from Knucklehead Barves

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Find someone you love and give them a hug. Just be sure to stretch adequately first.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight a 37-year-old junkballer lost a no-hitter and the game on a single swing of the bat. A Domincan-born second baseman passed the Sultan of Swat himself in career doubles only to end up injuring himself on the same play. A 42-year-old knuckleballer successfully sacrificed for a 23-year-old shortstop, and a star reliever stood casually in the corner of the batter’s box as he allowed his counterpart to strike him out.

Baseball is weird.

Tonight this team lost three players whose energy and passion for the game are irreplaceable—two to injuries, and the other a casualty of a questionable roster move—all while staring into the teeth of yet another blown lead and crippling series loss against an inferior team.

Baseball is painful.

Tonight an embattled pitcher collected his first two major league hits (and an RBI to boot), a middling utility player fair of hair returned from Triple-A purgatory to produce for his team in a pinch, and the brother of one prominent NL West shortstop went 3-5 with 4 RBIs to ice a crucial series win.

Baseball is beautiful.

This was one of those rare and borderline-cardiac-event-inducing games that truly encapsulated all of the above.

Seattle Mariners v Atlanta Braves
And boy was it a doozy.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Barves’ bothersome bats peppered M’s starter Erasmo Ramírez early, stringing together single after single (with a Freddie Freeman double sprinkled in), ultimately scratching across two runs in the 1st inning and one more in the 2nd.

The M’s countered with a pair of two-spots in the 2nd and 3rd off Barves knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, securing a 4-3 lead that they would hold until the 7th inning. None of those runs, however, felt more important than this one:

Baseball is beautiful.

Unfortunately, during the next inning, karmic baseball polarity reversed and Robinson Canó tweaked his leg on his way into second base, exiting the game immediately.

Baseball is painful.

While a perfect Rich Hill worked into the 9th in Pittsburgh, the M’s starter had returned to his rightful spot on the mound and was settling down nicely:

After a nearly-flawless four innings (featuring a stretch in which he retired 9 consecutive Barves), Erasmo exited the game in exchange for a (unsuccessful) Nelson Cruz plate appearance, and Marc Rzepczynski entered the game in the top of the 7th.

Rzepczynski, who had failed to surrender a single run in his past 12 appearances, promptly gave up a leadoff single to hit-machine Ender Inciarte, let him to advance to third on a botched pick-off attempt, then walked Brandon Phillips, marking the end of his day. David Phelps, activated this morning off the DL, proceeded to allow both runners to score, losing the lead for the M’s. He would go on to pick up the win.

Baseball is weird.

Somewhere around this point, Rich Hill, still maintaining a no-hitter on his 99th pitch of the game, gave up a walk-off homer to Josh Harrison in the 10th inning. The Pirates won 1-0.

Baseball is painful.

Seattle Mariners v Atlanta Braves
Oh yeah, there was this, too
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The M’s, meanwhile, entering the 8th inning in a 5-4 hole, responded to the recent lead change the only way they knew how: another lead change.

A Jean Segura double (breaking an 0-17 stretch) followed by a Yonder Alonso walk set the table for Taylor Motter, who had already collected a double in the 4th inning after replacing the injured Canó. Thankfully flow-bro no. 2 decided to pick things up right where he left them:

After a single from Danny Valencia, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker decided that would be all for newly-elected Barve-in-Chief Jim Johnson, asking rookie Dan Winkler to pick up the slack. He could not:

Baseball is beautiful. Well, provided you’re not a Barve.

Nick Vincent, who entered the game with the 8th highest WAR among all AL relievers, struggled uncharacteristically to put away the feisty Barves, allowing a run on a Freeman single before exiting the game after only two outs, because nothing can ever be easy for this team. Edwin Díaz mercifully took care of the third out, but due to some National League shenanigans, was required to bat in the top of the 9th:

Baseball is weird.

But when Díaz returned to the bottom of the 9th, it only took him 10 pitches to strike out the side and seal the series win.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Atlanta Braves
“Now THIS is a routine with which I am familiar”
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

While Rich Hill’s loss was near-perfect, the M’s win was anything but. Yet thanks to some timely hitting, mentally-tough pitching, and the exact minimum amount of luck required to still technically be considered “lucky,” things fell together in a way that only the 2017 Seattle Mariners could conceive. Here’s to hoping Leonys Martín successfully percolates through waivers, and Canó and Heredia are back in the lineup for the vital upcoming series in the Bronx. This godforsaken team is gonna need all the soul power it can get.

Because baseball is a weird. Because baseball is painful.

But damn, is it also beautiful.

Go M’s.