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Mariners Extend Game so no Pitchers Feel Left Out

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Chasen Bradford feels left out

Photo | Ryan Divish

You know that feeling when you’re almost done with a quarter or semester in school and you’re setting your alarm for 3am every day just to try to get up and throw together whatever paper’s due at the very last minute, when you’re barely staying above water and you’re swearing to yourself that next quarter will be different? That next quarter you’ll stay on track and not let yourself get so far behind? I also don’t know what that’s like, and it’s certainly not how every quarter of my undergraduate studies went.

This game, to me, felt from the second inning like a new quarter that got away from me right away, and I was in just-trying-to-avoid-disaster mode for the last, like, eight of the nine weeks. Usually we have a starting pitcher who at least gets us through five or six innings, so even if it’s a rough outing it’s usually two thirds of the way through the game when we start getting all these other hands in the pot and I start to feel like things are moments from completely unraveling. But today we knew ahead of time that we were basically going into an all-bullpen game. The seams were showing the whole time.

In a game where we don’t have one guy who’s going to start and pitch until the sixth or seventh inning, it feels to me like there’s no anchor. Nobody owns that game. When Felix started Wednesday it was Felix’s game and we were waiting for the offense to score runs for Felix. Yesterday it was Marco Gonzales’s team who scored all those runs for him. With a constant handing off of the baton, who’s game is it? Does that matter?

Yusei Kikuchi threw one of the better ninth innings I could hope to see in the first inning, coming in for just one frame and retiring the side on nine pitches. It brought to mind all those Edwin Diaz ninth innings that took place at the end of the game like they’re supposed to. And after that the real game began.

Justus Sheffield took over in the second inning and, in his Mariners debut, threw three innings, giving up a two-run home run to Nomar Mazara in the top of the 4th. Sheffield struggled with his control, which, for a 22-year-old prospect who didn’t hit AAA ball until last year, is to be expected. After recording two outs in the second inning he walked Joey Gallo and Logan Forsythe, but struck Danny Santana out to get out of that jam. In the third inning he seemed to have calmed down a bit, retiring the side and getting Rougned Odor to do this:

Meanwhile, despite the Rangers’ starting pitcher Shelby Miller also struggling with his control (walking five in five innings), the Mariners’ bats had been quiet until the bottom of the third when Edwin Encarnacion’s bat had something to say.

Sheffield struggled more in the fourth, walking Elvis Andrus ahead of Mazara’s two-run blast and then walking Forsythe for the second time a couple batters later. Santana struck out again to end the inning and Sheffield was done for the day. Of his 74 pitches, 34 were balls and many of them were nowhere near the zone.

Sheffield’s pitch locations
https://baseballsavant.mlb.com

With the Mariners in the lead, though, now we had something to lose and with every pitching change I was just waiting to watch that lead disappear. There were a lot of pitching changes. Every relief pitcher we have aside from Chasen Bradford came in tonight.

Connor Sadzeck threw a 1-2-3 top of the fifth inning. In the bottom of the fifth Mitch Haniger scored on an Encarnacion single, increasing the lead to 4-2. Sadzeck was replaced with one out in the top of the sixth inning by Zac Rosscup, who got out of the inning without giving up any runs.

Cory Gearrin looked good in the 7th inning(!), walking Delino DeShields but striking out two (including Santana for the third time) and not allowing any runs.

Gearrin’s pitch locations
https://baseballsavant.mlb.com

Brandon Brennan gave up one run in the top of the 8th, narrowing our lead to 4-3, and Anthony Swarzak gave up a home run to Shin-Soo Choo in the top of the 9th to tie the game, which I firmly believe he shouldn’t have done because I’d like to be sleeping right now.

Encarnacion did more than just bring the runs:

He wear hat. He flip bat. But most importantly, he catch that.

Roenis Elias pitched admirably in the 10th and 11th innings, sending all six batters he faced pouting back to the dugout, but it wasn’t until the bottom of the 11th inning that the Mariners felt like putting a stop to this nonsense already. Omar Narvaez singled with one out, and then Kyle Dowdy walked both Ryon Healy and Dee Gordon. Mitch Haniger, who’s pretty used to saving the day at this point, was getting really tired so he only hit a grounder to third, but it was enough to get Narvaez across the plate and then everyone went to bed.