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Wade the White grants the Mariners prosperity, victory as they journey into the second half

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A breezy two-run win starts the season’s second half off on the right note as Wade LeBlanc is lights out.

Chicago White Sox v Seattle Mariners
We three (lefty) kings
Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

A trio of left-handed pitchers have been the difference between mediocrity and playoff dreams for the Mariners this year. The overpowering Big Maple. The deft Marco Gonzales. And of course, the chivalrous Wade LeBlanc. Tonight’s aw-shucks starter was the first-half’s biggest surprise in a season of so many shocks. Wade LeBlanc was nigh-impeccable, but just as impressively, he dominated as the utmost form of himself.

Wade allowed a run in the first inning, and for a moment there was concern. His magic is the easiest to envision being exposed, as his velocity leaves him nothing to fall back on when hitters - particularly aggressive free-swingers like the White Sox - are making solid contact. But that gung-ho offensive approach cuts both ways. Guessing right on which pitch LeBlanc is throwing is a fools errand, and with five pitches that could reasonably coming at any time, moving in any direction, LeBlanc has the ability to dance out of trouble like a young Antonio Banderas, and tonight he used four steps to keep the White Sox off-balance.

Brooks Baseball

The 17 curveballs are on the high end for Wade, but he located it brilliantly tonight and Chicago had no answer. As they have all year, his balance of 24 two-seams, 18 cutters, 22 changeups led to success - those three pitches look remarkably similar coming out of the hand and that uncertainty for the hitter played into Wade’s success in the most pivotal moment of the night.

In the top of the 1st, with a run in, another runner on second, and one of baseball’s wunderkind’s at the plate, Wade pulled a slow one.

MLB

It’s a cutter, borderline at best, but a pitch we’ve seen Wade use when his back is against the wall. Yoán Moncada is frozen by the late inward break, halted in less of a check-swing than a swing’s genetic forebearer. The pitch reminded me of a similar pitch we’ve seen all season, both from Wade and his neat buddy Marco Gonzales, in 3-2 counts this year.

MLB

It was undeniably satisfying to see Seattle get off on the right foot pitching in the second half, and while the quality of the opponent and the shameful allowance of a run place this gem behind his stifling of the Red Sox roughly a month ago, it’s a 1A, 1B scenario for LeBlanc this season. His efficiency, as much as anything, made his journey through Chicago’s order memorable.

Sitting at Gasworks Park sipping canned wine like a proper millennial, I figured I would be able to watch much of the game, take notes, and get home in time to formulate the recap. Yet every time I looked back at the game, the count was 0-1, 0-2, or 1-2. It would be better if the Mariners had a more exceptional option to turn to in their rotation than Wade LeBlanc every 5th night, but tonight, once again, Wade was enough.

Offensively, the Mariners did little to quell the nerves their feeble recent showing built. Despite a 4-for-4 (all singles, naturally) night from Dee Gordon, a decidedly un-clustered nine hits led to just three runs on the whole for Seattle. I’d be remiss if I failed to mention Kyle Seager putting together a couple strong at-bats, including a double as well as a walk that led to his second stolen base of the year. Seeing Dee Gordon thrown out followed by Seager successfully swipe second is the type of bragging rights Kyle could’ve only dreamed of prior to tonight.

The game never felt particularly in danger, with the only halfway fright coming as Álex Colomé surrendered a jammed ground-ball single and a sac fly in mid-inning relief of Wade in the 8th, leading to runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs and a one-run lead. After Colomé escaped that jam, Seattle deigned to score again, pushing the lead to 3-1 on a Nelson Cruz RBI single to score Jean Segura. Those runs added to a first inning sac fly by Cruz and a scorched RBI fielder’s choice from RyON to be enough for an easy win. Edwin Díaz shook off his All-Star Game hiccup to lazily retire Chicago and put Seattle back at 20 games over .500.

Oakland’s loss to the Giants means the Mariners are back to four games up on a playoff spot, with Félix Hernández expected to return from the DL tomorrow. One of John Andreoli or Daniel Vogelbach are expected to return to Tacoma, and Ryon Healy could stand to take a back seat to Vogelbach’s blistering AAA pace, but that’s a debate for tomorrow.