The Mariners-A’s matchups in 2010 and 2011 were some of the dullest, frustrating baseball games I’ve seen. In those thirty-eight games, the two teams combined for just 265 total runs. Matching up a historically bad offense with a merely bad offense isn’t a good recipe for fun baseball in the first place, but aside from watching Félix Hernández carve up Oakland seemingly every time out, those games were pure soul death. Both teams have improved since then, but even still, the matchup’s reputation precedes it.
This was a classic 2011 Mariners-A’s game, with some bonus injury content.
First off, neither team could get anything going early. Ground balls came in bunches for both Trevor Cahill and Mike Leake, and through three innings, the best-hit ball was a Daniel Vogelbach single into center. At least they went quickly?
The top of the fourth is when some outrage started brewing. Mitch Haniger stepped in to lead off the frame, fell behind 0-2, and...
Even though it’s pretty clear that this was unintentional, OH COME ON. Haniger did stay in the game initially, but Andrew Romine took right field in his stead in the home fifth. I mean, what the hell, you guys? What the hell? Thankfully, X-rays were negative, but Haniger was seen with ice on his wrist after the game, and will almost certainly miss the next handful. One more time, all together now: ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
On the other side of the ball, Mike Leake pitched quite well. Although he only induced three (3) swinging strikes over 6.2 innings, he wormed ground balls out of the A’s bats all night - in fact, I can recall maybe one ball hit in the air off of him. He ran into a little trouble in the fourth, booting a potential out on a comebacker and allowing a sharp single to load the bases with nobody out, but escaped with just one run thanks to a pretty 6-3 double play:
Leake allowed another run in the fifth, although it could have been avoided altogether. After getting two quick outs, it was deemed that Mark Canha would wear one in retaliation to Haniger exiting the game:
I have no idea whose call this was. It could have been Leake. It could have been Zunino. It could have even been Scott Servais himself. Whoever it was, though, made the wrong call. Retaliation hit-by-pitches make no tactical sense in a close game like this one, and even though the feeling of revenge and catharsis is understandable, the plunking in question was clearly accidental. Sure enough, three pitches and two hits later, the A’s had added on a run. While that was all they would get, that inning left a poor taste in my mouth, and it would taste even fouler if they had ended up losing by a run.
Mike Zunino helped quell my worries.
That homer was blistered off the bat at 111 miles per hour, and even if it didn’t initially look like it was high enough, the sheer force behind it propelled it over the left field wall. The game was tied, Leake exited with two outs in the seventh, and James Pazos and Nick Vincent shut the A’s bats down over the next two innings.
Although the much-needed off day meant both bullpens were rested (especially Oakland’s September-esque ten-man relief corps), the prospect of extras was daunting. Regulation had been such a slog, and the last thing any Mariners fan would want to see is more early 2010s M’s-A’s baseball. Thankfully, Jean Segura blooped a one-out single to right, and newly minted two-hole hitter Guillermo Heredia came through.
Segura’s shoulder had a nasty collision with Jonathan Lucroy’s shin guard, and while he did stay in the game in the bottom of the tenth, one has to wonder if he’ll be good to go tomorrow. If not, Servais had better tap into his inner LLoyd McClendon coming up with a wacky lineup.
The bottom of the tenth began as usual, with Edwin Díaz making quick work of Canha and Chad Pinder (though not without a sparking play by Kyle Seager). All that stood between the M’s and victory was noted Mariner killer Marcus Semien. With a ball and two strikes, Díaz hurled a high fastball, Semien turned on it, the bat cracked, the ball soared, and all of our hopes and dreams faded...
ahhhhhhh i’m just kiddin’
Díaz dismissed Semien with a wicked slider on the very next pitch, and the Mariners were able to flee the impending storm with a win. This point has been talked about ad nauseum lately, but this team has fight in them like we haven’t seen in years, and are keeping loose through the good and bad. Although another two key players were dinged up tonight, spirits remain high:
After the game in the clubhouse, rather than stressing over the latest loss of players, Mariners were joking about who was going to play where tomorrow.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) May 23, 2018
Marco Gonzales toes the rubber against Daniel Gossett tomorrow evening. While the M’s will likely be running out a lineup that harks back to the Cactus League, Gossett has struggled mightily so far this year, and represents a good chance to take yet another series. I believe in their ability to do so.