It could be argued that the remainder of the Mariners’ games this season are insignificant. They probably are. It does finally feel, though, like we can finally just enjoy some baseball for it’s own sake. That, and we can anxiously dissect the few remaining performances of the current team so that we can have fuel for our desperate off-season obsessions.
Last night’s game was good for this. In his last start of 2017, King Felix dazzled, giving fans a hint of optimism for 2018. Wait, actually, when have I heard this before, never mind, this is bad, abort.
Tonight’s game was felt similarly wistful. In his last start of 2017, James Paxton had his bumps and bruises, but ultimately showed us for the umpteenth time that he is the ace we always hoped he’d be.
It didn’t start out great for those of us that tuned into this game against our better judgments. Paxton gave up a dinger to Marcus Semien on his third pitch of the game, prompting some to wonder when it was ok to call it an early night. Paxton ultimately settled down with several strikeouts over the next few innings, none as satisfying as this.
I’m all for finesse pitching, but there’s just something primally satisfying about a pitcher gunning a fastball right over the middle of the plate.
Some K-filled Paxton innings later, the M’s finally came up with some runs in the form of a Yonder Alonso dinger.
It was a pretty one, too. Sure would be nice to have him back next year, but I suppose that’s a discussion for another time.
That dinger also felt a bit conflicted. If there was one small consolation I could see to the Mariners being eliminated, it was the opportunity to see some young players that have a shot at contributing in 2018. If there were going to be any plate appearances completely meaningless to the 2018 Mariners, they were going to be featuring some of today’s starters: Yonder Alonso, Taylor Motter, and Gordon Beckham.
I really like Yonder, and I get that we might get him back next year. That doesn’t explain why Dan Vogelbach didn’t play, but whatever. Taylor Motter, whatever. Gordon Beckham, though...
Will Beckham be in the Mariners organization next year? I mean, maybe. Probably not. But I’ll be damned if Beckham didn’t force some joy into his presence in today’s game.
So many things made this great. The fact that what few A’s fans were there today were the ones that just really love baseball, and their reactions showed it. The fact that Beckham somehow made this damn catch. The fact that he actually got the guy at second. Sure, maybe he won’t even be on the Rainiers next year. But if one of our last good moments this year is gonna come from Gordon Beckham, I’ll take it.
This game ended like so many Mariners game this year have, at least the ones that went according to plan. Emilio Pagan, Nick Vincent, and Edwin Diaz each pitched a sterling inning of relief (1.2 innings in Pagan’s case). Those three are most likely going to be the foundation of the bullpen next year, and they pitched like their best selves.
There are still four games left to play. It remains to be seen how they’ll go, but if they’re anything like the last two, we may enter the off-season with a level of optimism that I’m declaring now as unhealthy.