This was a game of mirror images. A team from the NL West, the San Francisco Giants, taking on a team from the AL West. A lefty on the mound for the Giants, Andrew Suarez, and a lefty on the mound for the Mariners, Roenis Elías. And once the game started, three different innings where the Giants managed to score a run in the top of the frame, only to see the M’s respond with a run of their own each and every time.
Yet this was also a game of opposites. Elías is a fringe major leaguer, making a spot start in place of ace James Paxton, who felt some discomfort after his last bullpen and wanted a few more days until he returned to action. Suarez, meanwhile, is a rookie on his way up. The Giants are a model franchise, with three World Series titles in the last decade alone; the Mariners have just two winning seasons in that time.
And, of course, the worst one, at least tonight: The Giants scored in the ninth inning, and the Mariners didn’t.
Let’s rewind a bit. Guillermo Heredia may have struggled this year, but his solo shot in the third tied things up at one and hopefully instilled a bit of confidence.
The fourth inning was a perfect example of what it means to be a Mariners fan. Losing? Check — Roenis Elías allowed three hits in the top of the frame, allowing the Giants to take the lead. Hope springing eternal? Check — base hits from Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager, and a walk from Ryon Healy (of all people), loaded the bases with nobody out. Some brief excitement? Check — a sac fly from Denard Span and a line drive single from Mike Zunino. And, finally, bad baserunning?
Yep, we got that one.
In the 6th, a mammoth blast off the bat of Hunter Pence put SF on top until a pair of two-out walks from Denard Span (okay, sure) and Mike Zunino (UM WHAT) gave the Mariners a chance to get something going. Ben Gamel summoned the BABIP gods and delivered.
Opportunities arose in the 7th and 8th, but the heart of the order went down in order. Edwin Díaz entered in the top of the 9th but failed to keep the game tied after an infield single from Pablo Sandoval and a frustrating, frustrating, frustrating error by Dee Gordon.
You could blame Ryon Healy for wandering off the base here, and he probably deserves part of the blame. Given how far back Dee was playing at second, however, he should know better than to throw it to first.
The bottom of the ninth was even more frustrating. With the game on the line, Zunino, Ben Gamel, and Dee went down meekly, with a pair of strikeouts and a can of corn to the second baseman. In nine at-bats to end the game, the Seattle offense finished 0-9 with four strikeouts, four groundouts, and an infield fly. That’s right: Not a single baseball left the infield.
One loss in a season of 162 games shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s a long season. Yet it’s hard not to taste bitter disappointment tonight, especially given the other results in the division. In 10 innings, the Astros beat the Rockies 8-2, coming away with a win in Denver, something the M’s couldn’t do in three tries. And after falling behind 10-2, Oakland came back to tie it up in the 9th and win it in the 10th. That makes the A’s 25-7 in their past 32 games and just 1.5 back of Seattle.
If you want to panic, I get it. I’m definitely getting a little panicky as I write this. This team has been lucky, but it can’t keep hitting on 16 and somehow pulling a 5, especially since it seems like Oakland has been counting cards for the last month-plus.
This game was bad. This game was horribly familiar. We might look back at this game in two months and shake our heads, knowing what was to come, wishing we had this one back. We also might have a five-game lead at that point, following an Oakland collapse that we could (should?) have seen coming. We might have Cole Hamels in our rotation in two months. We might have Roenis, too.
The point is: Lots can happen between now and then. And perhaps the best remedy is...
I strongly suggest that all of #Mariners twitter should just go the hell to bed.— Chris (@CFromBothell) July 25, 2018
Good night, LL. See you tomorrow morning.