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A fireside chat with your friends, the White Sox, and Cory Gearrin

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Do the recap with me, said Kate. It’ll be fun, she said.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Back in the dark days before staff writer Matthew Roberson was on the podcast regularly, the pod was just Kate and John talkin’ baseball and getting geography hilariously wrong. Today we revive that grand tradition in a co-recap!

Kate: John, what is up with this broadcast. I just watched thirty seconds of Goldsmith and Blowers making faces into the camera and now I’m staring at an empty field. Is this performance art? I have a strong personal rule against performance art, having attended an arty women’s college and seen my share of people sitting on watermelons wearing boxing gloves.

John: My illustrious alma mater, Lewis & Clark College, would never endorse such esoter- **checks Facebook photo history** yeah I know what you mean.

K: The White Sox apparently came out in individual white convertibles, which also feels dangerously close to performance art. So Reynaldo Lopez gets the start today and just struck out Mallex Smith by throwing him nothing but 96 mph fastballs, although Mallex did (again) work a full count. I admit to not knowing Lopez, somehow, but he just K’d Haniger on 98 with some gross movement that resulted in a pretty ugly swing from Mitch.

J: Lopez was the secondary piece in the return for Adam Eaton from the Nationals behind Giolito, but he’s probably the more impressive piece at this point. Still, 95-98 doesn’t work all day if you throw it right down the middle, like he just did to Domingo Santana who went oppo for a bomb, as he is delightfully wont to do.

K: Wow, that was power on power, and Domingo won. He went yard off Eovaldi, too, but that was off a pretty poorly-located slider.

J: That heater was not particularly well-placed either, but the hit sure was. That is Domingo’s fourth dinger of the year and his second to the opposite field, because he is history’s dopest monster.

History’s dopest monster

K: Oh boy, we’re starting off rough on defense already, with a Beckham error on the first pitch of the ballgame for Kikuchi. Maybe he just got too cold standing out on the field while the White Sox paraded in on convertibles. Let’s see if Kikuchi can get a double play ball here. That curveball looks really sharp, don’t you think?

J: Yes, but the infield defense does not. Tim Beckham bobbled a sure double play ball, then threw wide to first, Jay Bruce dropped the wide throw on the transfer, and the runners all advanced. The 2019 M’s giveth and taketh away.

K: [retching noises]

J: Let us never say they are anything other than the most of themselves.

K: These were more the Mariners I was expecting to watch in 2019, honestly: sometimes fun, often sloppy. Although Narváez just did a good job of stealing a strike. Just focus on the future, Kate. And not on Tim Beckham’s three-error inning. Nor on how badly I feel for Yusei Kikuchi.

J: Could go for a one-hopper right to Kikuchi for a 1-2-3 double play.

K: Well, we all have dreams.

J: While Yoan Moncada fouls pitches off, why is the sign behind home plate spelled “guaranteed Rate”? The capitalization is baffling.

K: I have no idea. Layering bad graphic design on top of a bad name for a ballpark? I take back the nice thing I said about Narv’s framing, by the way.

J: A few close pitches here that he has unfortunately buried. The offense is great, but when you aren’t getting those strikes on the edge, at-bats get extended into opportunities, like that clobbered near-grand slam by Moncada.

K: On the bright side, I think Mallex might have saved a grand slam on that. He sort of spiked the ball back from over the wall. Please don’t have your wrist be hurt, Mallex.

J: Oh yeah, Yonder Alonso is here. Jay Bruce looking like an out-of-control wagon fielding that grounder, but mercifully that kept the runner at 3rd. If they get out of this, you’ve gotta feel decently about the offense coming back, right?

K: I have this bad feeling we’re going to be inserting the Spongebob “x hours later” image here after the Mariners have gone down 1-2-3 over the next five innings. [Note: they would not, but “five hours later” still feels accurate.]

J: Hey, unless they let Reynaldo López go back in the Mustang he rode in on, he just sat around in the cold for a bit. I liked the approach inning one, and López is… not known for his command, let’s say.

K: Well unfortunately a single from Narváez is all the noise the Mariners can make offensively that inning. I feel like a lot hinges on this next inning. If Kikuchi can go 1-2-3, I’ll feel good about their chances to climb back in it. If it’s another, I believe the French call it le shitshow, we should probably think about pivoting this recap to a board game review or tips on caring for houseplants or something. And with a leadoff double on the first pitch of the second inning and a bunt base hit to put runners on the corners with no out, so far things are not trending great.

J: I am going to, at some point this year, run onto the field and place a cast on Omar Narváez’s left arm so he keeps his wrist up while framing pitches.

K: Worth getting banned from the park for, I think. Kikuchi isn’t helping his own cause, though. That curve was so tight earlier, and now it’s kind of gone loose and loopy. But he has to use it, because the White Sox are being aggressive on his fastball. And on the bases, it seems, as Leury Garcia swipes a bag easily off Narváez.

J: Giving the White Sox extra bases is especially brutal. With a ton of team speed this is exactly how they want things to go, and unfortunately the M’s are not built to counter it.

K: This is just one of those games. A routine ground ball finds a hole, and there’s still no one out. Make like Liz Lemon and shut it down.

J: A double play!

K: What? I’ve heard tell of those mystical occurrences but never thought I’d see one with my own eyes.

J: This is one of those days where I’m glad we live in the age of fielding-independent pitching metrics, because Kikuchi has looked less than dominant but totally fine today and even with the three errors he’s still rocking a 27.00 ERA vs. a 3.95 FIP through two.

DEE GORDON WALK! López has started this inning with seven straight balls and not one has been close.

K: His velo has taken a tumble, too. He’s pretty regularly in the low 90s now. Also, DEE STEAL! He has five already, wow. And it turns out he probably didn’t need to steal that base because ball four to Mallex was located in North Dakota, approximately.

J: White Sox nearlllly give some of the defensive nonsense back on that flyout, but all the same that’s one run back and just one more hit needed to get it to 6-3.

K: Well, Jay Bruce will not provide that hit today. That’s a bummer, because with Haniger and Santana up that inning, you really want more than productive outs out of them to start climbing back into this.

J: Yeah, López is trying to give them baserunners. Hopefully they can accept his offer more agreeably the next few innings.

K: The fans want Eloy to get a hit so badly, which I get, but it won’t happen here in the third. Tim Beckham seems to have rebounded from his first-inning struggles with a nice play on that grounder. A flyout from Yonder Alonso and are we maybe flirting with a 1-2-3 innnn...and just as I say that Rondón hits a double into LF, which sucks because Kikuchi should have had a strikeout looking. And now he should have had a strikeout of Engel. Why is baseball being so mean to Kikuchi? He’s such a nice fellow.

J: It’s pretty unfortunate that the moment Omar Narváez has a slump I will start wearing my Zunino jersey around daily.

K: Well at least they escaped without damage, and here in the fourth there’s Tim Beckham doing a good thing with a leadoff double and Ryon sacrificing him home. But chipping away one run at a time isn’t going to do it here considering the sad(zeck) state of the Mariners’ bullpen.

J: There is a Chasen Bradford waitin for us and his grounders will deliver us. From Evil? To Evil? Who can say.

J: DANIEL VOGELBACH CAN. Productive dingers >>> productive outs.

K: There is really no ill that a Daniel Vogelbach dinger can’t fix.

J: Nor that a Dee Gordon walk cannot!

K: But because things cannot ever be just Good and Fun, Dee gets lifted from the game with a groin injury (later diagnosed as groin tightness). I swear vengeance on you, Chicago. I will plunder your terrible soggy pizza and throw it into Lake Michigan.

J: You keep deep dish out of the lake and your mouth. Hopefully it’s precautionary with the chilly weather. Thankfully Yusei Kikuchi has managed to recover and keep things level.

K: Yeah I was a little nervous when he fell into that 3-0 count against Tim Anderson, although there was a really close call there, but it ended in a harmless flyout. Still, I’m really concerned about Narváez catching him. Is Tom Murphy or Friend Freitas a better option?

J: Hard to say. So much of framing is familiarity. Remember 2017, when Mike Zunino’s defensive numbers took a huge hit while he was catching 40 different pitchers, then rebounded to be stellar as usual last year with more consistent work and a consistent group? I think Narv is pretty brutal back there, but we’ll probably see at least a bit of improvement as he gets more than 4-5 games of catching Kikuchi, and everyone for that matter.

K: This fifth inning was a really good chance to do some damage to Lopez and his wavering command and climbing pitch count, but [fart noise]. Mitch Haniger feels like he’s off to a slow start. I know he’s probably not, but it feels like that.

J: (164 wRC+ coming into today for Mitch)

K: Shut up, my feelings are still valid even if they aren’t based in any kind of reality. But you want to see some runs when the heart of the order is up, or at least a legit scoring threat. On the bright side, Kikuchi has two quick outs in the fifth when it didn’t look like he was going to make it there from the first inning. That’s a gutty performance.

J: This will undoubtedly be his last inning, and he’s gotten no favors from Narváez, having to throw probably five extra pitches throughout the course of the game with borderline pitches being stabbed at. The White Sox bullpen should be well-rested, but they’re not a deep group, so hopefully the M’s can just put a bit more pressure on López and get this tied back up.

RYON: HI GUYS

Champion of the sun, a master of karate and friendship for everyone

K: WELL HOW BOUT THAT.

J: DAYTIME RYON. ALL HAIL THE DAYMON.

K: I think we should make a shirt.

J: The power of a yellow sun gives him super-strength slightly improves his eyesight.

K: Truly, though, what a staggeringly poor decision by the White Sox. Why would you leave your high-pitch count starter struggling with his command in against a guy who is out here slugging like it’s just after rain in the Northwest?

J: That was a pretty wild vote of confidence in the home opener by Rick Renteria, but we’re knotted at 6-6 and I am thrilled.

K: Hey now would be a great time for Mitch Haniger to make me look real dumb about that “slow start” comment.

MITCH: lol kate

J: HOW’S THAT FOR PROVING YOU WRONG KATE?

K: THE ONLY TIME I HAVE ENJOYED GETTING MANSPLAINED

J: Hansplained?

K: Mitch-chief Managed. And now we turn this two-run lead over to the bullpen. There might legitimately be twenty runs scored in this game before we’re done. It will take seven hours. Welcome to the future of baseball you wanted, Manfred.

J: Would loooove the M’s bullpen to work quickly here, and I like going to Matt Festa here. Despite a leadoff walk, gets an immediate double play ball.

K: A low-stress inning from a bullpen arm? I like to party! The Festabus is coming! Someone call Tee, I need a photoshop. And now I have that song stuck in my head, which seems like appropriate punishment.

J: Omar Narváez is doing his absolute damndest to mitigate his framing by spraying hits all over the place and I love him for it.

K: He knows the exact dimensions of this park and he will USE that advantage, dangit. I wish they could have added on, but oh well, let’s turn things back over to Matt Festa for another low-stress inning.

J: Surprise, it’s Cory Gearrin, here instead to reprise his role as “The Man Who Did Not Know Lefties Were Eligible For Called Strikes”.

K: I give this a negative score on Rotten Tomatoes. Would not watch again.

J: Watching Gearrin, I’m reminded of Mariano Rivera describing the day he essentially magically learned to throw his cutter, but at the time was terrified, because he couldn’t throw the ball straight anymore. Cory Gearrin cannot throw the ball straight, nor can he throw anything in the zone and it’s brutal. He’s unfortunately entered Casey Fein territory here.

K: And should probably suffer a similar fate. That’s just so deflating for the offense, as Zac Rosscup enters and gives up a go-ahead RBI single. As fun as those earlier innings are, this is just brutal. Blessings upon Chasen Bradford’s bearded head, though.

J: It’s especially unfortunate since the M’s now will be facing a one-run deficit and have to make it up against the two solid relievers Chicago has in Álex Colomé and Kelvin Herrera. Either way, we’ve got a great shot at reaching 20 runs collectively.

K: Double especially unfortunate is the fact that it’s the bottom of the lineup up this inning, and Dylan Moore looks about as equipped to handle major league pitching as I am to do electrical engineering.

J: The old swinging bunt is better than nothing!

K: Unfortunately, nothing is what the Mariners get out of that inning, and the comeback chances take a big hit.

J: We get Domingo-Bruce-Beckham to face Colomé in the 9th, which is a very solid group, but realistically there’s no reason the M’s should win at this point between the errors and Gearrin’s 7th inning implosion. They still might! But give up 10 runs and you can’t really expect much better.

K: No. And honestly I’m kind of relieved, because they didn’t deserve to win this game, and I hope it forces some decisions about the bullpen. The Beckham errors I’m willing to shrug off; it’s the first road game, it’s cold, we’ve seen how bad can become worse on a major-league baseball diamond. We’ll see how things are feeling at the end of this series, but it’s hard to get too worked up about a game the bullpen essentially lost.

J: Definitely a frustrating one to watch, as, like their other loss this year, it was in hand and instead handed away. Beckham’s defense is the cap on his ceiling, because he’s been a capable hitter when healthy over the last few years, but ultimately if he’s a part of the M’s future that’s a pleasant surprise. The offense did more than enough, but this is what this team is.

K: Meanwhile, what time does the Power game start today?