/steps up to podium
/takes deepest possible breath
/bows, exits stage left
After the brutal disappointments of the first two games of this series - one where a ninth-inning rally wasn’t quite enough, another where the bats didn’t wake up - today had all the ingredients for another disappointment. Brett Anderson, who is somehow, infuriatingly good again, mowed down the M’s lineup through seven and two-thirds. Managing just five hits, nary a batter worked a deep count. Although only Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon went down on strikes, Anderson induced an astounding fifteen groundouts on 83 pitches. Despite getting a man on second in the first, fourth, and seventh, each opportunity was snuffed out by an easy grounder.
I gotta say, that’s so much more frustrating to watch than a Chris Sale or Corey Kluber double-digit strikeout game. Take some pitches! Elevate and celebrate! It’s literal Brett Anderson!
Thankfully, Mike Leake also brought his A-game, and was almost as efficient. Setting the first nine A’s down in order, he ran into a bit of trouble in the fourth, starting with this hit from Nick Martini that was generously ruled a triple:
Bad Mitch! Bad! Matt Chapman worked a five-pitch walk, and all of a sudden, the A’s had something brewing. Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis, and Matt Olson are a formidable 3-4-5, and I don’t blame anyone one bit for thinking the tie was as good as broken.
Today may have been Leake’s best start of the season, and maybe even his best start as a Mariner. Needing just 95 pitches to go a full eight innings, he was in control all afternoon, spotting his sinker and slider masterfully to coax tons of weak contact, and other than a bloop double from Chapman, no other Athletic reached base. The Mariners threatened in the ninth after a Jean Segura single and a Nelson Cruz plunk, but it wasn’t meant to be then, with Kyle Seager flying out and pinch-hitter Denard Span striking out in a valiant effort. We all know pitcher wins are bunk, but it was still a mild bummer that Leake wasn’t rewarded with one.
Regulation flew by today. As Álex Colomé took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, I noticed that the game hadn’t even passed the two-hour mark. After Colomé allowed a leadoff single to Martini, foolish past-me had assumed the loss. At least a speedrun game has some novelty - the last game the M’s played that clocked in at under two hours was nearly four years ago. I will not be bringing any other details from it up. It wasn’t meant to be today, though, as Colomé got Chapman on a lineout and Lowrie bounced into a double play. Extras, ho!
After an uneventful tenth, it was the Mariners’ turn to start brewing some runs in the top of the eleventh. Robinson Canó (GOD does it feel good to be able to write his name in one of these again) and Jean hit back-to-back singles to bring the go-ahead run just ninety feet away. Although Robi was inexplicably pinch-ran for with Andrew Romine, Cruz was climbing in. Anything even moderately deep would be enough. Please, Neli. PLEASE.
Alas, no runs crossed the board. Nick Vincent started the bottom of the inning after finishing the tenth, and nailed the first two outs down around ANOTHER hit to Nick Martini (seriously who the hell even is this guy). James Pazos came in to face Chapman, and promptly walked him on four pitches, sitting at just 91-93 and badly missing his spots. Thankfully, Pazos dug in and battled Khris Davis for eight pitches, winning with a swing and miss.
You all know what happened next. Mike Zunino worked a full count and then a walk, and then Dee did this:
Dee Gordon still does not have a single barrel - as defined by Statcast - all season, with this dinger clocking in with an exit velocity of just 94.6 MPH. That didn’t matter, though. LOOK AT THESE HAPPY GOOBERS
Although Haniger laced a one-out double, he was left on second, and Edwin Díaz took over. Unfazed by a leadoff single from Olson, Edi tore Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien to shreds, leaving the pinch-hitting Chad Pinder as the only remaining foe.
The twenty games in twenty days slog is over. The Mariners went 5-2 against the Astros and A’s. Despite the pain of the last two games, it is impossible to feel anything but satisfied with how the last week went. After a merciful off day tomorrow, the team returns to Safeco Field to take on the Dodgers. May the smoke have cleared at least a little by then and may there be fewer Dodger fans than Mariner fans in the ballpark. For now, though, bask in this win for the next fifty or so hours.
Go M’s. Go Dee.