In a game when the Mariners desperately needed it, Marco Gonzales did not have his best stuff. The co-captain of the Quad Squad missed his spots regularly, issuing three walks and recording just ten outs with his first 70 pitches. If not for a well-spun breaking pitch to force Matt Chapman’s inning-ending double play in the fourth, this game could have slipped away while it was still light outside.
Instead, the Mariners just hung around, and hung around. The first run came when Bob Melvin intentionally walked Nelson Cruz with a four-run lead. Kyle Seager took offense and dad-strength’d an RBI single after Oakland had the gall to disrespect him in front of the entire family like that.
Marco struggled through the fifth inning as well but managed to keep the Athletics off the board. Watching Khris Davis’ 343-foot, 103 MPH single felt like dodging six bullets at once, as did Mark Canha’s double to the gap, hit close enough to Mariners’ outfielders that Davis had to hold, preventing him from scoring on the play. By the way, can we talk about Mark Canha real quick? Dude went to Berkeley, walks up to a Bob Dylan song, and is ALWAYS wearing a turtleneck. Mark Canha definitely read 147 pages of Infinite Jest but still has strong opinions on it.
That’s really all I have to say about the first two and a half hours of this game. Marco was ineffective but crafty, constantly having to escape prisons of his own design, and doing it pretty well. If there’s ever a time when I viscerally relate to professional athletes, it’s when they make a mess of things and realize they’re the only one who can rectify the situation, no matter how painful that process may be. Luckily Marco backed out of the several corners he put himself into, like when I have to explain to a person for the third time in a week why I can’t hang out with them.
“I’m pretty tired, had kind of a tough day at the office. Just feel like taking it easy tonight.”
“Look, I’d love to be social and happy with you, but things are getting really messy on my end. I need to take some time to clean up. Tomorrow is easier.”
“Alright I’m gonna be honest. I’m in a bad mood. Someone at work was banging a drum all day, and that teamed up with this weird septic tank smell to give me a vicious headache. Can we reschedule?” (This one is more specific to Marco’s workday, admittedly.)
When Marco’s shift ended, the Mariners were only down 4-1. Not miserable, but certainly not where you want to be. Then Scott Servais called upon Casey Lawrence, who is literally Casey Lawrence, and the Mariners were super duper where you don’t want to be. Bless Lawrence’s heart, that elastic pitcher from McSherrystown, PA with an offensive lineman number. His insertion felt like Servais playing for tomorrow. 4-1 was a nice rest spot on a harrowing hike, but Lawrence’s outing sent us tumbling down the mountain to 7-1. At that point, all you can do is dust yourself off and soldier on, even if soldiering on means three more innings in Alameda County’s largest man-made garbage geyser.
Against all odds, the Mariners made this game downright interesting in the last two innings. Like Oscar the Grouch, bacteria, or most of my friends from college, the Mariners thrived in their trash environment. The destitute, bleak, disgusting nature of their surroundings seemed to revitalize the M’s as they turned rubbish into fuel. Four consecutive eighth-inning singles plated two runs, slashing Oakland’s lead to 7-3.
Sensing that this game needed an extra dash of terrible, Jeurys Familia appeared from Oakland’s on-field bullpen to pitch the final frame. He promptly threw eight consecutive balls, then spiked the sixth pitch to Denard Span to walk him. Chris Herrmann: tying run at the plate, bases loaded, facing Blake Treinen seemed like a cement impossibility mere minutes before. That oddly specific fantasy became a reality, and Herrmann struck out on three pitches.
A wild pitch and clothesline single brought the Mariners within one, still with two outs at their disposal. Cameron Maybin missed out on his first Mariner moment with a bat, striking out on Treinen’s witchcraft slider. Jean Segura got on base to make things interesting, but ultimately Nelson Cruz whiffed on the last pitch of the night, giving the A’s the first game of the set but forcing them deep into their already-taxed bullpen. I’ll call that a 60% victory, fully aware that such a thing is nonexistent.
Tomorrow is the dawn of a new era. The Mariners offense will be reborn upon Robinson Canó’s arrival from the womb of suspension. Whether the wattage of his smile is the guiding light to postseason baseball, or just some flashy curb appeal for an otherwise meh house, we get to watch Robinson Canó play baseball again very soon. Everyone please rest your heart strings, for they will soon be tugged.
*Swoons into a joy-induced coma*