Yesterday was a pretty perfect day for LL HQ. Several of us made the journey north and were treated to an Everett AquaSox game where we got to support Braden Bishop and his #4MOM foundation, see Robinson Canó make a dazzling play at second AND hit a go-ahead grand slam, and were intrigued by several members of the AquaSox bullpen, from power pitcher JT Salter to sidearming whiz Nolan Hoffman to Edwin Díaz-lite Dayeison Arias. It’s a pretty high bar to set for today, but a competitive LL softball game and a group meetup at Park Pub, although a different experience, is a similarly enjoyable one. As always, these recaps are all hands on deck, so you’ll hear from a few different LL staffers inning to inning. I (Kate) am typing this intro pre-game, basking in the glow of an enjoyable weekend and secure in the knowledge the worst the Mariners can do today is a series split. Onward!
First/second innings - Zach
As Mitch Haniger steps to the plate, the realization dawns on us that the pitching matchup in this game is Charlie Morton vs. Wade LeBlanc. I love me some Wade, but the odds seemed stacked against the Mariners from the beginning. That said, the odds were stacked against the Mariners the last two days, and those worked out all right.
Today was the third straight day for Mitch Haniger in the lead-off spot, and he managed to accomplish something Dee Gordon has only done desperately few times: a lead-off walk. Unfortunately, Charlie Morton proceeded to make Denard Span look extremely silly and then induce a Jean Segura ground ball double play. He continued that trend into the second inning, as Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, and Chris Herrmann were retired in short order.
Wade LeBlanc continued his own unique brand of utter nonsense through the first inning and into the second, somehow striking out Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez. It was at that point that whatever chaotic force governs baseball happenings realized that this was bullshit, and tried to correct the universe, and had the Astros BABIP Wade to the tune of two runs. Though he ultimately limited the damage, it was a grim start to an already-stacked matchup.
Third/fourth innings - Grant
The theme from the Mariners’ bats this inning sure seemed to be missed opportunities. Ryon Healy, of all people, led the third off with a double roped down the third base line, and Denard Span somehow got Morton’s curveball to keep curving until it hit his back shin in the fourth.
Of course, three straight hits at the second baseman in the third stranded Healy, and Jean Jean the Hitting Machine grounded out into a double play (his second of the game) to start the fourth in a similar fashion.
That was where the similarities ended, however, because the middle of the order suddenly figured it out. Nelson Cruz figured out how to beat the shift: hit the ball really, really freaking hard (109 MPH, to be exact). Kyle Seager found some space in the right-center gap to bring Nellie home from first, and Chris Herrmann, bless his heart, lined a triple in the same spot. Three straight hitters, three straight exit velocities at 100 MPH or above.
And to bring it all home, RyON Healy stayed ON by sneaking a single into the outfield. He did push things by rounding first and promptly getting thrown out, but the damage was done and the Mariners had their first lead of the game.
On the other side of the ball (does that aphorism still translate to the diamond?), Wade kept cruising for both innings, making us proud to be eating Wader Tots in the Park Pub. From striking Marwin Gonzalez out on a 76 MPH changeup that Gonzalez somehow missed to juggling a line drive out from Yuli Gurriel, Wade skated through these two innings with relative ease — at least, as much ease as one can have when one is a lefty facing the Astros.
Fifth inning - Matthew:
In the time it took to pass the computer to me and figure out the WiFi situation, the Mariners had recorded two outs in their half of the inning, eliciting just four pitches from Charlie Morton. Mitch Haniger, while seeing enough pitches to run the count full, struck out to give Morton the all-important “shutdown inning.” This is what I get for showing up late.
Wade LeBlanc began the bottom of the fifth with four straight wayward pitches to Tyler White, giving him a free pass that I would have preferred he paid for. Luckily, Wade responded by fanning Max Stassi on a fading changeup, darting just out of the right-hander’s swing path. Tony Kemp followed with a measly fielder’s choice. Alex Bregman gave us a fright with two well-struck foul balls, only to fall victim to Wade’s off-speed magic. He flew out to Denard Span as a delicious burger flew into our booth, distracting me from doing any more work.
Sixth inning - Connor:
Span greeted Morton by slapping a first-pitch single into left, and sauntered to second on a one-out poke by Neli. Kyle Seager had a chance to load the bases after working a 3-0 count, but rolled an easy 4-6-3 double play instead to snuff out any hope of a big inning. Maybe put the red light on him there for a bit.
Wade LeBlanc’s day is done, and all things considered, he put together a solid outing. Though you’d like to see him go a little deeper, he mostly limited damage and collected five strikeouts against a still-decent Astros lineup. Nick Vincent took over by dismissing Carlos Correa on four pitches, inducing a first-pitch flyout to Evan Gattis, and got Marwin González on a truly awful bunt attempt for the third out. A clean inning from a reliever! That’s felt like more and more of a rarity these days. Thank you, Nick.
Seventh inning - Kate:
Truth: I missed most of the Mariners’ offensive half of this inning because I was trying to entertain friend of LL Brittany Bush’s son by playing a rousing round of The Alphabet Game. It occurred to me that perhaps teaching young Edmund to spell words like “Detox” and the Park’s signature t-shirt “Do it in Public” might not be the best education, but hey, real-world experience. The Mariners put a little pressure on lefty Tony Sipp, in to replace Charlie Morton, when Dee Gordon hit a two-out single and stole second, but alas, were retired with no damage done. Nick Vincent came out to start the eighth and retired the first batter, causing our table to actually physically recoil at the sight of clean-shaven Nick Vincent—sorry Nick! It’s not that you have a bad face, it’s just unfamiliar. However that was nothing compared to our collective reaction to Zach Duke entering to protect a one-run lead. Duke got Josh Reddick to ground out directly to Ryon Healy, though, causing cheers to ripple throughout the collected LL crowd that were only outstripped by the cheers when Servais came to lift him after doing his job, which, okay Zach Duke. We were hoping for a four-out Colomé appearance but alas, it was Adam Warren emerging from the pen, and he started out by throwing Tyler White two straight balls well off the plate outside. A foul and then a gifted strike two call put Warren in a 2-2 count, but then White fouled off approximately 29353845 straight pitches, causing tensions to rise. Finally, White poked a ball down the left field line but Kyle Seager was there to throw out the plodding slugger. Miraculously, Park Pub is still standing after the massive exhalation of breath.
8th inning - Eric:
Hello! It’s ya boi, Eric Sanford, fresh and sweaty off the SoftbaLL game (thank you all for coming and being awesome) and a bit of toddler wrangling at the Park Pub. Welcome to the 8th inning, where suspected domestic abuser Roberto Osuna is pitching. Lovely. I am proud of the chorus of boos that rang out from the LL faithfuLL, however. Haniger and Span both flew out in relative short order, but Jean Segura flicked a single in left center. That brought up Nelson Cruz, who almost legged out a single to third base, but was thrown out. Mariners still up 3-2, though.
Alex Colomé took over in the bottom of the 8th inning. Max Stassi squibbed one right down the third base line that Seager decided to watch hit the base in case it went foul (Narrator’s voice: “It did not go foul.”). That brought up sudden unheralded Rickey Henderson acolyte Tony Kemp. Kemp lined a sinking drive into the center-right gap that Guillermo Heredia ranged to his left, slide on his side to catch and then doubled up Stassi at first. The Park Pub went WILD, y’all. GUILLERMOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
*deep breath*— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 12, 2018
Next up was fresh-off-the-DL Carlos Correa, who fell into an 0-2 hole, worked the count full, and then took a walk after two extremely close checked-swings. Two runners on for Bees-in-his-beard Evan Gattis. Great. Luckily Gattis popped out to Haniger and thus ended the 8th inning.
9th inning - Brittney Bush (special guest recapper!)
Hi! My name is Brittney and I don’t write for this site.
It’s the top of the 9th, and we would all (polls the table to confirm) feel more comfortable if the Ms were more than one run ahead. But they’re not, and so I get a refill on my rosé, and we watch as Kyle Seager does nothing really, and then as Chris Hermann does nothing really. And then comes Ryon Healy, who briefly makes us all very excited, and then slightly less excited. It’s not the donger we were looking for, but it is undeniably SOMETHING
This shit is DELICIOUS.
...This is a long at bat.
Sips some more
Ahh, Dee. Does something, almost, but in the end it’s time to go to the bottom of the ninth, after this commercial break.
[How are y’all? What are you up to this weekend? Did you go to the Pearl Jam concert last night? It was pretty epic. Three and a half hours, and they ended with Baba O’ Riley into Yellow Ledbetter. That song always reminds me of....]
And we’re back.
Sugar is in, and so is Good Boy Mike Zunino. Sugar strikes out Marwin Gonzalez. SWEET.
Sugar strikes out Gurriel. SWEETER.
Reddick pops out to Seager, and the Mariners win.
OH-OH-OH, THE SWEETEST THING!
Thanks to everyone who joined us today, and thanks to the Park Pub for putting up with us and providing the most delicious cheesy tots ever, and thanks to the Mariners for providing a win and letting us all leave with a smile. If you haven’t joined us for one of these events, DO IT. Watching the game with twenty-plus people who care as much as you do is an extremely great experience. I’m so grateful for this community, and for all of you. Go M’s.