Each game of baseball, no matter how inconsequential, has things worth paying attention to. Whether it’s a couple of good performances, a narrative or two, or exciting prospects being called up, there’s always something to keep an eye on, even in a truly wretched season. It’s frankly one of the best things about the sport.
Tonight had no shortage of narratives: touted infield prospects J.P. Crawford and Shed Long got the call to the big leagues this morning - with Crawford making his Mariner debut - Erik Swanson had just collected his first big league win and was looking to build on that, both teams came into today at .500... take your pick! Any of those can be compelling! Who says baseball is boring?
Today’s game was a point in whoever says that’s favor.
In fairness, Swanson looked pretty dang good in his first two innings. A throwing error by Ryon Healy the only nitpick, the righty had impeccable fastball command, and was able to kick it up a notch, firing four straight fastballs at 95 miles an hour to strike out Michael Chavis in the second. Over his whole start, he didn’t walk anybody, he induced ten swinging strikes, and he worked quickly on the mound - always a favorable trait in the watchability factor. Oh, and he made his former high school rival Andrew Benintendi look silly on 96 in the third:
J.P. Crawford also had a solid Mariners debut, staying with a down and away breaking pitch to get his first hit with Seattle out of the way quickly:
Crawford hit the ball hard each of his four times up today, lining out hard to first and flying out to deep left-center before roping an opposite-field single in the ninth. Hey, one of those good performances I mentioned earlier! Domingo Santana had the other one, falling a home run short of a cycle. Imagine if he had done that in such a lopsided game like this.
That’s the only good news from tonight. Seriously. No foolin’. After that magnificent strikeout against Benintendi to get the second out of the third, Jackie Bradley Jr.’s leadoff double ended up biting Swanson pretty firmly, and three batters later, it was 4-0 Red Sox.
Swanson labored for the rest of his outing, and was pulled in the fifth after letting six runs cross. The extra life on his fastball had faded, and neither his slider nor changeup was fooling Boston’s lineup - Rafael Devers blasted an absolute hanger of a change to lead off the fourth. Despite some intriguing peripherals, Erik Swanson just doesn’t feel like a Major League pitcher at the moment, and should be ticketed back to Tacoma once Wade LeBlanc is due back in the next week or so.
The rest of the game passed by in a haze - a hot afternoon didn’t help matters, either. According to the actual box score, Anthony Swarzak, Zac Rosscup and Mike Wright finished out the game. I honestly completely forgot Rosscup even played today. Edwin Encarnación scratched Seattle’s lone run on an eighth-inning double. I guess he’s still doing well. At some point in the later innings, the heat rising into my top-floor apartment and the sheer ennui of the game was too much to handle for my computer, as it overheated and shut off in self-defense. Perhaps I should have taken this as a sign.
Even in earlier blowouts this year, sometimes weirdness made its way into the later innings. Dylan Moore pitched an inning! Omar Narváez and Encarnación have both played second base in the past week! Oddities like these are usually the one salve when your team’s on the bad end of a score like today’s, and seeing precisely none of them in a 14-1 game kicks rocks.
This game was Boring. This game was Dull. This game was any other synonym for those two terms that you wish. Frankly, I wish anyone reading this did something else with their Friday afternoon besides watching even five minutes of today’s action. Tomorrow is a fresh slate, though, and features a couple different stories to watch: Shed Long’s big league debut should be the main focus, of course, but Félix is making his first start in Fenway since the ten-run incident in 2015. Maybe these will be more fruitful tales to follow.