This morning I was going to post an article about Nick Vincent. He's a fascinating player to me. Both Vincent and Blake Parker were minor acquisitions by Jerry Dipoto in the last two years, and this season they have both been among the best relief pitchers in baseball. Parker was a non-roster invitee at Spring Training last year after being released by the Cubs and threw one inning all season before being DFA'd and claimed by the Yankees. The Yankees tired of him and the Angels desperately took a flier on him. It's worked out, as has Vincent, who was acquired purely for cash from San Diego six days before the 2016 season began.
Vincent was the losing pitcher tonight, which is a fun twist of the knife considering a nearly completed article sits in my drafts extolling the steadiness of Seattle's high spin-rate wizard.
Instead I wrote about the Mariners' stars and their struggles, but how we also should recognize that the Mariners were furthest behind their competition this year at the bottom of the roster. They needed Nick Vincent and Blake Parker this year, and instead they had Casey Fien. Every team needs stars, but the best teams are stable top to bottom.
Tonight, as with this entire season, there were sparks and interesting tidbits that excited and intrigued. Mike Leake was simply brilliant, with a 6.2 inning performance that should have Mariners fans scratching their heads at how they got him through 2020 (and a third of his contract paid, AND $750k in international bonus money) for basically nothing. His velocity is back at or above where he began the season and spent all evening furiously pumping on the chest of the Mariners' 2017 season with both hands, circulating blood in a desperate attempt for salvation. Instead, the Mariners generated just one run off Martin Perez, who just a week ago was their delightful punching bag. Ben Gamel's RBI double to drive in Guillermo Heredia was enough to match the lone run allowed by Leake off a Nomar Mazara double that Guillermo couldn't quite track. That was not enough to win it. Despite what percentage of this recap is dedicated to respective sides of the ball, let it be known that the offense is almost entirely responsible for losing this game. It* was a missed opportunity.
*May refer to Yonder Alonso being picked off third after wandering too far on what may or may not have been a safety squeeze, a play where you explicitly only start running on contact. May also refer to Kyle Seager striking out looking on three pitches in the 8th with two runners on. May also refer to 2017.
When Vincent entered the game and gave up a double, a bunt single, a sac fly, and a broken bat RBI blooper to make it 3-1, Texas, in the 8th, it felt gross. Not in the way that it often has, where baseball is cruel and the Mariners missed out again. The confluence of factors necessary for Seattle to make the playoffs at this point are so extreme that I don't consider them in the equation. It's simply that so rarely has every player on this team played to their potential at once, and seeing Leake's success shouldn't have to herald a faltering on Vincent's behalf.
Welcome to Lookout Landing, Nick. You've got the pose down already.