On this day in Cleveland, there was no snow, there was no rain, but there was thunder. The Mariners bats brought sound and they brought fury. Each hit, each play, a note in a symphony, not in minor, not in major, but in cracks and blasts; in home runs and RBIs.
There was a chill about the air as Carlos Carrasco threw out the first pitch of the game. It was a fastball, 96 miles per hour, upstairs to Dee Gordon. It was taken for ball one. The next pitch wished it was as lucky. A changeup down the middle brought the game’s first hit and baserunner.
With Gordon on base, Jean Segura saw two pitches hurled at him. The couple of two-seam fastballs landed inside, away from the plate, but Segura stood his ground. He was bundled, he was warm. The next pitch, a four-seamer down the middle, wanted desperately to find itself nestled in the glove of Indians catcher Roberto Pérez, but as fate would have it, the pitch met with Segura’s bat and was blasted far, far from home plate. Segura’s hit cleared the wall over center field and he secured his second home run of the season, his facemask undoubtedly hiding a smile.
Robinson Canó, the heart of the Mariners’ lineup, batting third and battling through seven pitches, flew out to right field. But if Canó is the heart of the lineup, then Nelson Cruz is the soul. He is kind, he is benevolent. So much so, that he decided that the ball Segura crushed just two at-bats earlier was in need of a friend, and launched Carrasco’s second pitch into the stands in center field to join Segura’s lonely home run.
In this first inning, Kyle Seager saw six pitches, but ended up flying out to center field. Mitch Haniger took a 2-0 count and keenly brought it up to full, but ended the frame with a strikeout, swinging at an 84mph curveball.
Such is the way this game began, but there seemed to be cause for worry after the first inning. The Mariners may have scored three runs to start the game, but Carrasco struck out the side in the second inning, needing only eleven pitches to do so. The lineup seemed top heavy without Ben Gamel and Mike Zunino holding down the fort in the back end of the order.
In the bottom of the second inning, Leake allowed a walk (arguable) to Edwin Encarnación. A single by Yonder Alonso then advanced the runner, and, after a groundout for Roberto Pérez, Tyler Naquin singled to score Alonso. It seemed as though Cleveland was ready to pose a threat.
But the threat was soon silenced. In the third inning, the Mariners proved that man does not survive on the long ball alone. Gordon was hit-by-pitch to start the inning, and took revenge on such a misdeed by stealing his tenth base of the season. Segura singled. Canó hit a sacrifice fly to score his teammate. Segura stole second, and reached third on an error. Cruz singled and got himself another RBI.
In the fourth, the collected efforts of long and small ball coalesced into a run scoring parade. Carrasco was out of the game after only three innings, and Zach McAllister was no better at deterring the M’s offense. Gordon doubled, Segura singled, Canó doubled. After Cruz flew out to right field and the fun seemed to cease, in came Kyle Seager. With a perfect swing and a perfect pitch, Seager earned his fourth home run of the season, and the Mariners were up 10-1.
Though Yonder Alonso managed to squeak in a two-run shot to center field, the comfortable lead kept Mike Leake solid through six innings. He allowed only six hits and earned himself four runs. He struck out six batters and allowed only the one debatable walk.
Oh, and if you like your cake with hefty amounts of icing and were left unsatiated by a six run lead, Ryon Healy managed to scribble this little dinger off of Dan Otero in the ninth; his first as a Mariner.
This was the first game since Monday where the difference in the final score was more than a single run. In fact, every game against the Indians this season had been determined by a single run until now. Though that may be a testament to the offense, today, the bullpen managed to absolutely stun the Indians’ batters. James Pazos came in to relieve Leake in the seventh inning and wiped Brandon Guyer, Bradley Zimmer, and Francisco Lindor out of the box in eleven pitches, earning himself two strikeouts in the process. Nick Vincent needed only eight pitches to get his three outs in the eighth inning.
In the ninth inning, Chasen Bradford almost had himself a perfect frame as well, but could not find the strikezone against Roberto Pérez. After giving up a base-on-balls to Pérez, Bradford merely brushed it off and proceeded to strikeout Brandon Guyer on seven pitches, ending the game with a whiff.
This game, beautiful as it was, was more rejuvenating than anything else. The bats flared, the runs scored, the bullpen did their duty, and the Mariners did more than scratch off a victory, they claimed it fully.
As Leonato states in Much Ado About Nothing, “A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers.” With twelve runs scored, four Mariners hitting balls over the fence, and eight of our nine batters reaching base safely, I’d say this victory is definitely twice itself.