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Dee Gordon Cements Legacy as Best Center Fielder in MLB History, Mariners Win

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It didn’t take long, but it couldn’t be more clear

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

FADE IN:

UNDERGROUND LABORATORY - NIGHT

SCIENTIST pours over a lab bench, sweating as they lift a beaker and, hand shaking, attempt to steadily pour its contents into another beaker.

LOUD BANGING NOISE

JERRY DIPOTO: Bursts through door, a maniacal and slightly crazed gleam in his eyes.

SCIENTIST: Alarmed, spills beaker all over own arm. Screams as skin begins to sizzle.

JERRY: I’ve just had a phenomenal idea. You’re going to love this one!

SCIENTIST: Tries to stifle own screams, picks up clean-up kit from under bench. Pours chemical burn solution onto arm. Sizzling stops.

JERRY, oblivious: Now, hear me out. I know that we’ve been going with this whole “fun” thing for a while. And don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun.

SCIENTIST, weakly, now dressing wounds: Uh... huh.

JERRY, now pacing frantically: But I’ve been thinking, what if we’ve been going about this all wrong? I’ve been looking at what the [JERRY grimaces] Angels have been doing all off season. There are rumors of who they’re chasing. Ian Kinsler? Zack Cozart? It looks like they’re mostly going completely anti-fun, and are instead assembling a collection of the least fun, but still good, baseball players ever.

SCIENTIST:

JERRY: But there’s no rule that says you can’t do both! We can try to be good, better than the Angels, even! And — hear me out — we can try to assemble a group of baseball players who, unlike the Angels, aren’t punch-able as all hell.

SCIENTIST: You’re not suggesting we-

JERRY: Give up on Ohtani, yes.

SCIENTIST: But-

JERRY: We trade for Dee Gordon. He’s the perfect combination of good and fun. We get a bunch of pool money, and pretend to go all in for Ohtani. When Ohtani is inevitably attracted to the stagnant environment that is the clubhouse of Angel Stadium, they’ll feel like they’ve won a bargain. But really, the whole time, we’re assembling like-able baseball players while tricking the Angels into going all-in signing the least like-able team ever.

SCIENTIST: We can build an entire team of players who are both fun and good?

JERRY: Yes!

SCIENTIST: Are you sure we’re allowed to do that?

JERRY: Nobody has tried since Pat Gillick. It’s worth a shot.

FADE OUT

Going in to this year, the rock of the rotation was going to have to be James Paxton. Maybe Felix could return to form, and maybe Leake could consistently put out 6-inning, 3-run starts. Still, Paxton would have to carry the team.

Despite Paxton struggling more than anybody this series, the Mariners managed to take two out of three games from a 100-win Cleveland team that was favored in every game. They won on Thursday behind a strong outing from Felix Hernandez, and did today behind an equally strong outing from Mike Leake.

For all the credit the pitching should get, however, the real hero was one of the bigger question marks heading in to the season: Dee Gordon. Could he play Center Field at an elite level?

Uhh. Yeah. I think he just might be able to handle it.

Leake gave up a couple of runs scattered throughout the first few innings. It was a little frustrating when the Mariners were unable to convert a bases loaded opportunity against Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer in the third, but Bauer looked pretty lost out there. It felt like it was only a matter of time before the Mariners would break through.

Break through, they did. Doubles by David Freitas, Jean Segura, and Kyle Seager led to two equalizing runs. After Segura’s double, one guy was the first out of the dugout to cheer. The one firing everyone else up.

Though the Mariners were able to chase Trevor Bauer out of the game, that honestly felt like a bad thing with the vaunted Cleveland bullpen coming up.

The Mariners and Indians traded empty sixth inning frames, and the tension grew.

Finally, in the bottom of the seventh, Dee Gordon came up to bat to lead off the inning. He took three pitches. Reliever Dan Otero took his sweet time with the ball. Dee fouled one off. And then another. And then another. 24,500 fans at Safeco clasped their hands together, gritting their teeth a little harder after each foul ball.

And then.

It was a magical moment. The Mariners would end up needing more runs to win, but this felt like the deciding swing. At the very least, it was the swing that made Seattle sure about Dee Gordon. Reminds you of someone, doesn’t it?

Tee Miller

Just three batters later, Mitch Haniger homered to make it a 5-2 game. Juan Nicasio made it a little bit interesting, giving up a dinger to Edwin Encarnacion in the eighth.

Fortunately, Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth inning of his life, and left no doubt in anyone’s mind from the first batter on.

It sure is too bad that the Mariners have an off day tomorrow, but I guess it’ll be nice to bask in the glow of this series for another day.

Before we know it, Tuesday will be here. To the rest of the season, I say: