We all have that friend who makes promises they intend to keep but just...don’t. They aren’t bad people, exactly, they just aren’t realistic when it comes to estimating their available resources. Today the Mariners offense was that friend, as they continually promised Erik Swanson they’d get him a run next inning, and continually failed to fulfill that promise.
To be fair, Carlos Carrasco was very, very good today, making it all the way through the seventh against the Mariner batters, who looked hapless against Carrasco’s fastball-slider-changeup. The Mariners would scatter a few hits around, but couldn’t ever get anything going in sequence against Carrasco.
But the offense wasn’t any better against Nick Wittgren, going down 1-2-3 against him in the 8th and the 9th. The dinger streak, the only positive thing Mariners fans have had to hold on to during this prolonged losing streak, came to a thudding end as the Mariners dropped their sixth straight and have now been swept in back-to-back series. There’s nothing positive to say about the offense today, really; they struck out an astonishing 14 times, they didn’t work many counts, and they just looked overmatched. It’s been a long time since they’ve had an off-day, and the offense has fought and scratched against some tough pitching lately, but today was a pretty pathetic showing.
If you want a positive takeaway from the offense, there are two:
1) Ryon Healy just missed a home run that would have extended the streak and tied up the game, because [gestures in general direction of last six games]:
2) Domingo Santana looked entirely un-Domingo-like in his first two at-bats against Carrasco, striking out both times, and then made an adjustment in his third at-bat, getting to Carrasco for a double on a pitch placed on the opposite corner that he was able to extend his arms on and rope into center field. Domingo remains fun to watch, at least. He would advance to third on a wild pitch, but Jay Bruce, who had a particularly brutal day, struck out to end the threat. (The fault doesn’t lie with Bruce alone: the Mariners had two outs because Dylan Moore and Mallex Smith saw three pitches between the two of them to make the first two outs of the inning.)
Also, Jay Bruce did this, because you know what they say, if you’re having a rough day at the plate, make sure you’re contributing in the field:
On to the happier part of the game, then. Rookie Erik Swanson made his first start and looked better than I think many of us, myself included, expected. This Cleveland lineup is not the most fearsome in baseball, but Swanson was mostly excellent. He started off relying on his fastball and mixing in his changeup, but that was more than enough to keep the Cleveland hitters off-balance. Swanson is mostly a fly ball pitcher, but today he initiated a lot of weak contact on the ground, getting batters to reach across the plate to chase his changeup. Early on, he showed an ability to spot his fastball anywhere he wanted to, often returning to the same location to bait a batter into a bad swing. He worked his fastball high in the zone, as he’s known to do, but also varied location all over the plate, hitting whatever target Narváez offered.
In the fourth inning, working his second time through the order, Swanson began to mix in his slider, which is reportedly not as good as his changeup but provided enough of a wrinkle to batters that he was able to get Jason Kipnis to ground out softly on it, and finished off the inning throwing it to Carlos Gonzales for a swinging strikeout, one of five on the day for Swanson:
The fifth inning was Swanson’s lone wobble on the day. Much like in the Spring Training game against the Dodgers where he got burned by Kiké Hernández twice (two solo HRs the only mark against Swanson that day), only Jake Bauers seemed to have Swanson’s number, recording the only two hits against him. In the second, Bauers had jumped on a first-pitch changeup, lining it just over Tim Beckham’s head. Maybe it’s a mental thing where Swanson struggles against a player who’s gotten to him before, but started the second at-bat off with a slider way upstairs before coming back with two well-located fastballs for called strikes to get Bauers into a 1-2 hole. From there, though, Swanson decided to go back to the changeup, the same pitch Bauers had singled off earlier, which Bauers fouled off, kicking off a prolonged eight-pitch battle that ended with Bauers getting a fastball at the top of the zone but catching too much of the center of the plate that Bauers deposited over the center-field wall. That at-bat was followed by an extended at-bat with Greg Allen, who is not hitting triple digits, and does not require eight pitches to be thrown in order to get him to fly out weakly to right field. Swanson’s command did go a little wonky in the fifth, but he rebounded nicely to work a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout looking in the sixth.
The Bauers home run would be the only run scored in the game, but it was enough given the offensive ineptitude of the Mariners. The rest of the relievers recorded scoreless innings, including this nasty changeup from Brandon Sean Michael Brennan, who continues to earn every one of his four names:
But despite setting out an envelope labeled PIZZA MONEY :) and clearly writing the pitching staff’s Venmo ID on the clubhouse whiteboard, the offense slunk out the back door of T-Mobile without paying their fair share, leaving the pitching staff to pack the empty pizza boxes out to the yard waste.
The Mariners head down to Anaheim for a four-game set and while the Angels are mostly bad, and probably a worse team than the Mariners, the Mariners will be limping to the end of a fourteen-game stretch with no off-days during which they’ve traveled halfway across the country and back. Hopefully the offense will catch up on their sleep on the plane down to California. Maybe they’ll even offer to cover the rideshare to dinner (not all of dinner, though, LA prices are wild).