It seemed over, and that was okay.
The Mariners had started this season with approximately 13 excellent offensive performances out of their first 15 games, and an average one today wasn’t the end of the world. The wind was swirling the home team’s way, befuddling Domingo Santana and Tim Beckham at different points and helping buffet both Mike Leake and the ROOT centerfield camera out of being their usually steady selves.
With a trio of homers from Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier, and Adalberto Mondesi, it seemed the getaway game would do just that from the Mariners.
That sentiment was reinforced by an uncharacteristically poor showing against Royals starter Jorge Lopez, who worked six solid innings and yielded just two runs. Whereas the 2018 Mariners had a penchant for late-game heroics, this 2019 brood has built their case on early leads that they narrowly keep from bucking them off. As Dee Gordon lead off the sixth inning facing down a 4-0 deficit, it was far from over, but it felt unlikely. Unlikely, it seems, is the name of the game for this crew.
In a rare moment of non-shaky-cam action for the wind-stricken ROOT telecast, Dee lofted his first homer of the year, setting an MLB record for the consecutive games with a homer to start the season at 15 straight. But they needed more. They’d get another run back with the first of three key triples on the day from Mallex Smith leading to a Mitch Haniger sac fly, but it was the first of a few opportunities that felt like missed chances for the M’s.
Seattle would score again in every inning following the sixth, but left guys on the table each time. In the 7th, Daytime Ryon Healy chipped in a double, followed by a Gordon triple that Terrance Gore narrowly failed to snag. A Mallex strikeout ended that threat, as did an ill-timed GIDP by Tim Beckham in the 8th after three straight hits.
With a sun double leading to a pair of runs scored on debuting RHP Erik Swanson, the 6-4 deficit seemed likely to be enough in the 9th. Before passing him over, it should be noted that Swanson recorded a bounty of swinging strikes, including 4 Ks in his two innings, and looked better than his line will indicate. He’ll likely return to Tacoma in exchange for Shawn Armstrong tomorrow, but it was an encouraging debut that didn’t deserve two earned runs.
But this offense isn’t just an early-game wonder. Beleaguered Royals closer Brad Boxberger was asked to hold the line for the second straight night, and for the second straight night Mitch Haniger stomped all over that line. A clobbered ball to left-center after a nine-pitch at-bat caught a wind-stream and equaled the ledger that had hurt the M’s earlier on, making an already rangy play incredibly difficult on the defensively brilliant Billy Hamilton.
Unfortunately, Hamilton appeared to smash his knee into the wall and needed to be carted off, and hopefully it will not be a serious injury. The Mariners third triple of the night tied things up, and who but the Sultan of Sodo (TMGrant Bronsdon/Tim Cantu)would untie this Gordion Knot with one swing of his greatclub.
The winds of greatness taketh, and they giveth. A sharp outing from Brandon Brennan got them through the 9th to set Vogey up, and Connor Sadzeck became the sixth Mariners pitcher to record a save, striking out Whit Merrifield to make him 0-for-6 and end his 31-game hitting streak.
13-2, and a far tougher test coming to town tomorrow in the Astros, but an absolutely exceptional day of fight in an all-new way by the M’s.