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Mariners non illegitimi carborundum, win 9-7

Mariners fall into Texas-sized garbage pit, somehow emerge with win

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers
when they let you use your expired coupon at the store
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

My favorite quote is from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities:

“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

The inferno takes many forms, like a ninety-minute rain delay, and definitely one of those forms is whatever the hell was going on with Gary Cedarstom’s strike zone tonight:

In a small ballpark like Globe Life, it’s important to keep the ball low in the zone, something that is difficult to do when the low strike isn’t being called. Add to that the amount of pitches fouled off by the Rangers (close to one-third of the pitches Pax threw!), and the fact that his curveball didn’t have much bite and—in Pax’s words—the slider wasn’t sliding and the cutter wasn’t cutting, and you have a recipe for a short outing. Pax only made it through four innings, giving up five runs on six hits while walking three and only collecting six Ks. Those six hits, by the way, were two solid doubles, two doubles that just sneaked down the line fair, an infield hit that Segura double-clutched on, and a “double” on a dropped catch by Gamel. Inferno, inferno, inferno. The Mariners trailed 4-1 heading into the fourth inning, and it felt like they just couldn’t catch a break. Even when Nelson Cruz obliterated a ball over the foul pole, it was ruled foul:

But let us revisit the Calvino quote. The existence of the inferno is not a thing that is in doubt; it is everywhere, all around us, at all times. As Mariner fans, we are well-acquainted with the inferno. But we are also, luckily enough, acquainted with the not-inferno that is Nelson Cruz, who knows that if at first you don’t succeed...

I mean, this game had Dee Gordon both getting caught stealing and getting beat to the bag in a footrace by Bartolo Colon. This game was heavy with its bullshit. And the top of the lineup was just like

Even after Pax gave up an RBI double to Shin-Soo Choo to extend the Rangers’ lead back to two runs, the top of the lineup snatched that run right back after Canó and Cruz singled to open the sixth, and Seager and Haniger sacrificed the run home. Chasen Bradford gave up a run on a ground ball off the bat of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and the top of the lineup came right back again with a little more late-inning magic when Jean Segura again came through with a clutch double to tie up the game, and then Robinson Cano did Robinson Canó things:

And because he is a Good Boy and a Team Player, Mitch Haniger followed that with a shot of his own:

The Mariners bullpen was able to do just enough to lock down the win. Dan Altavilla had to throw 31 pitches over his 1.1 innings of work, but he was able to throw 21 strikes, so this one goes solidly in the “improving” column, command-wise. Edwin Díaz, working on a second consecutive night, was called upon for a four-out save and did not have his command, leading to a nerve-wracking bottom of the ninth. Diaz had to throw 40 pitches, more than he’s ever thrown in a single outing in his professional career, and of those 40 only 18 were strikes. Looking at that, it’s sort of amazing he only gave up the one run, especially considering he walked three batters. Obviously, Díaz wasn’t going to keep up his worldbeating pace all year, but this was a pretty sharp left turn compared to the dominance we’ve been enjoying so far, causing unpleasant memories of last year’s meltdown against the Angels. After pitching carefully around the two left-handed batters in Gallo and Choo, Díaz was able to get Kiner-Falefa to fly out to end the game.

Speaking of what is not-inferno:

Love you, Guillermo. Love you, offense that supports this occasionally-vulnerable pitching staff. Love you, inferno-defeating Mariners.