All across the world today, families applied varying amounts of efforts to give their fathers something special. Some surely knocked it out of the park, getting Dad something far beyond his wildest dreams. Others had their hearts in the right place, but ultimately fell short in the “actual value” department of gift-giving. Fathers far and wide deployed their yearly acting routine, feigning excitement over macaroni art and hand-painted coffee mugs.
The Seattle Mariners – a family in its own way – struggled to give an adequate gift. Losing big-time to the Boston Red Sox is disappointing, but I’m not mad. I’m still incredibly proud of everything they’ve done, and await each new day in which they wow me with their achievements.
Did their gift absolutely suck? Yes. Do I still love them more than mostly everything else in the world? Also yes. I have just described parenting and baseball fandom in one fell swoop. Thank you for attending my TED Talk.
In terms of the actual game, it showed signs of a stinker as early as the third inning. Mike Leake was oh so close to getting out of said inning without any damage. He retired JBJ on one pitch and Mookie Betts on a harmless grounder. Then, after allowing singles to Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts, the wily right-hander found himself staring at J.D. Martinez. Leake buried two sliders and a cutter on the outside part of the plate to produce a 1-2 count. Then, it what would turn out to be arguably the most important pitches of the game, Leake lost the Boston slugger on pitches out of the zone and foul balls. The nine-pitch walk loaded the bases for Mitch Moreland, who Mitch Morelanded a 17-hopper into center field.
The RBI single pushed Martinez to third and made things 2-0 in favor of the visitors. Not ideal, but certainly not insurmountable. Not as bad as, say, a 5-0 deficit. Just one more out would close the door on this scary place, Home Alone style. Instead, the impossibly young Rafael Devers cranked a 1-2 pitch significantly farther than Leake would have liked him to.
[WARNING: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE]
Rafael Devers sent his 11th home run of the season a looooong way. pic.twitter.com/GDbprQtSX3— NESN (@NESN) June 17, 2018
The offense rubbed some sticks together in the bottom half of the third for their own two-out spark. Dee’s second hit of the day paired nicely with a Jean Segura walk, setting the table for a hungry hitter to clean up. Mitch Haniger gave a valiant effort, but extinguished the spark by striking out looking. A third of the way through the game, the Mariners were on the wrong side of a five-run gulf.
One of the by-products of the team’s success is an added comfort in bad things. Rather than “here we go again” after Devers left the building, my mind veered toward “they can still come back” and, eventually, “a split against the Red Sox is still pretty good”. As weird as it is to say, and as foreign as it is to feel, the Mariners have a decent security blanket right now. The cushion between them and the Angels softens the blow of losses, deflecting the impact away from any major organs. They may have got nicked up today, but the Mariners are still in great shape moving forward.
I mean, just look at this and tell me you’re still bummed.
Or this photo of Seattle’s jewel of a stadium, which continues to impress in its 20th season hosting big-league ball games.
A total of 46,462 #TrueToTheBlue fans celebrating Father's Day at the ballpark. This is the 7th-largest regular season crowd in @SafecoField history. #ILoveSafecoField pic.twitter.com/ke7k7LpHoA— Mariners (@Mariners) June 17, 2018
As the 2018 M’s are wont to do, the team clawed its way back in the scoring column. Perhaps fearing that the combination of beating sun and trailing home team was tiring the fans, Nelson Cruz made sure everybody was still awake, particularly those seated in the left field bleachers.
[WARNING: VISITING BROADCAST TEAM MAKES COFFEE JOKE]
Nelson Cruz recorded his first ever hit against Eduardo Rodriguez and it was a bomb. #RedSox still up by 4 heading into the fifth inning. pic.twitter.com/ZItTTJB8SU— Red Sox on CLNS (@RedSoxCLNS) June 17, 2018
The home half of the fifth brought another opportunity, in the form of a Gamel ground-rule double, David Freitas infield hit (?!?!) and sublime Dee Gordon bunt. The Mariners could only turn the bases loaded, no out scenario into one run, as they failed to get another hit in the inning. Ending the fifth down 5-2, instead of potentially taking control of the game, signaled an imminent end. Eduardo Rodríguez finished his afternoon with a 1-2-3 sixth inning, effectively closing the curtains on this comeback. Boston later smacked two home runs off Chasen Bradford to formally end the show.
One loss in the grand scheme of a 162-game season is nothing to fret about. The starting pitcher barfed one inning away, and the hitters let precious chances go un-seized. This is how a baseball season works. Not every game ends in high-fives and fireworks, no matter how much we believe this team is capable of that.
I wanted desperately for today’s game to produce an outcome that makes writing these recaps so special. Instead, we got a reminder of what makes those unforgettable wins so cool in the first place. Gems like Friday night shine even brighter amid dreary losses. A necessary requirement of playing, coaching, or even watching Major League Baseball is the ability to flush losses and move on.
Our preferred team was thoroughly beaten today, but they’ll have tomorrow to rejuvenate, before Marco, Félix, and Pax get their turn in the Yankee Stadium spotlight. We all would have loved crowning this weekend with a series-winner over Boston, but we’ll get another shot at them next weekend. Let’s take tomorrow off, count all the good things in our life, hug some loved ones, and return on Tuesday ready to prove our worth against the Yankees.
And maybe we’ll put this year’s Father’s Day gift deep in a closet or something, so that other people don’t see it when they come over.