We all knew, somewhere deep inside, that a loss like this was going to happen eventually. The bullpen - while spectacular for most of the past fortnight - was bound to have a game where they would unravel, and I guess it’s nice it was mostly a collective effort.
That being said, though, this was a doozy.
Félix again ran into trouble in the first inning, although it was mercifully brief. After serving up a one-out solo shot to Shin-Soo Choo on the cookiest of cookies...
...he bounced back with two quick groundouts. I made a quip in the game thread about how with an inferior defensive outfield of Denard Span, Mitch Haniger, and Ben Gamel behind him, tonight would be a good night for Félix to figure out how to get ground balls again, and for this start he did, running a very nice 50% GB% over his 5-plus innings of work. He would allow another run in the second on a Ronald Guzmán single up the middle that juuuust snuck under his glove, but Félix managed to keep the Rangers at bay through five, picking up four strikeouts and passing Sandy Koufax on the all-time list along the way.
The M’s immediately greeted Austin Bibens-Dirkx with a barrage of hits in the bottom of the first, with a Jean Segura single, Span double, and Haniger double snatching the lead back. After Nelson Cruz was once again hit with a pitch (stop this please) and a Kyle Seager flyout let Mitch get to third, Ryon Healy brought him home with a hard single that glanced off of Jurickson Profar’s glove, and it looked like smooth sailing for a bit.
Neli has been swinging the bat better in the last couple of games, and this homer felt like it jumped off the bat way faster than 105 miles per hour. Maybe it was that low launch angle, but MAN did that get out in a hurry.
Sadly, while Félix handled Texas effectively through the first five innings, he quickly fell apart in the sixth. A Nomar Mazara double, Isiah Kiner-Falefa single, and a Joey Gallo walk loaded the bases with no outs, and James Pazos was called in to at least minimize the damage done.
What followed was some of the most bizarre baseball I have ever seen, and it has to be seen to be truly believed. Pazos’s very first pitch resulted in this:
This happened on his very next pitch:
Pazos eventually would strike out Rougned Odor, but keeping track of balls and strikes is hard immediately following a baseball to the head, and Jerry Meals initially called strike two. After much initial confusion and an umpire council, Odor was finally retired.
With that kerfuffle resolved, Ronald Guzmán stepped in and smacked a first-pitch single up the middle to give Texas the lead. Pazos was yanked, and Ryan Cook was tasked with putting out the fire.
His first pitch only stoked it, grazing Carlos Pérez’s jersey. His second pitch appeared to also get Delino DeShields, although the call was thankfully overturned after the revelation that the pitch actually hit the knob of his bat. Cook did end up working out of the jam, though, and Marc Rzepczynski and Dan Altavilla each walked the tightrope in the seventh and eighth, respectively. Headed to the bottom of the eighth inning, the M’s deficit was still just one run, and there was some fight left in them yet.
Ben Gamel, harnessing his lupine strength with the help of the full moon, led off the frame with a single through the left side of the infield. After a Mike Zunino plunk (oh man just how many HBPs can one game see?), Guillermo Heredia pinch-hit for Gordon Beckham. Heredia, while tearing the cover off of the ball over the past few weeks, had the day off, but it was strongly hinted that we would see him in the later innings as a defensive replacement. Seeing him come in off the bench against a solid righty reliever in Chris Martin - during a high-leverage situation to boot - was a mild and pleasant surprise, and wouldn’t you know it, he delivered.
Yeah, “Heredia can’t hit righties” is a dead narrative.
Segura tied it up with an RBI groundout, and although the Mariners couldn’t snag the lead, it was hard not to feel confident going into the ninth with Edwin Díaz on the mound. Unfortunately, he had little to no command of his fastball tonight. Profar roped a single up the middle leading off the frame, and while Díaz got Mazara swinging on a filthy slider, Kiner-Falefa reached on a cheap hit through an extra-wide hole on the right side of the infield, and Gallo worked a walk.
No biggie! The double play was on, and Texas had Rougned Odor - objectively one of the worst position players in the Majors - up. No way this bites us, right?
Yeah, yeah, blind squirrels, broken clocks, all that stuff. But still. UGH. Díaz was pulled for Chasen Bradford, who promptly let Odor score from a Guzmán double. Ronald Guzmán, while having a reputation as a strong defender at first base, carried just a 91 wRC+ and a K-rate over 30% into tonight’s game. He would finish tonight with four hits and a walk. This sport, man.
The Mariners went down in the order to end the game, and while this individual game sucked, the team still finds itself in a good position. Not capitalizing on an Astros loss stings, but Seattle still holds a 3.5-game lead over the Angels for the final AL playoff spot, and James Paxton is squaring off against Matt Moore tomorrow night - one of the more lopsided mismatches on paper we’ve seen so far. The Grove will be loud, and all will be well.