I don’t know how many people watched the Mariners game tonight, a glorious Seattle evening at the end of a holiday weekend. As the weather outside becomes more inviting, gluing yourself to a screen for hours a day just to watch them lose becomes less and less so. Even for me, someone with an eye on the 2020 draft and a strong belief in the promise of the farm system, watching loss after loss after loss can be exhausting, exasperating, and wholly unpleasant. The thing is, I don’t want the Mariners to win games, because I want them to have a top-10 draft pick (they’re currently positioned for 8th overall)...except then I sit down to watch the game and can’t help but hope they’ll win. It’s counterintuitive to want your team to lose, but really, being in the middle is the worst place to be, neither tasting the glory of the postseason nor having access to the kinds of talents that can help drive your system towards that glory. But it’s so hard, because losing sucks, you guys.
So the best-case scenario, then, is a game like tonight: let the wins be few and far between, but let them be noisy, ridiculous, outsize wins; let them come against hated opponents (I don’t really hate the Rangers, but will take wins against the Angels or Astros); let them come with a Seussian, riotous joy; let weird stuff happen; let them pack in enough fun to carry us across the next lean stretch. Tonight’s win fits the bill, and here’s why:
- Tommy Milone is a 32-year-old journeyman pitcher who has been in organized baseball for over a decade. In 2015 with the Twins, he posted a K/9 of 6.37. Tonight his K/9 was over 11.
- Milone was strong up through the sixth inning, when he walked his first batter while trying to protect a one-run lead. A fireman needed to be brought in. That fireman, of course, was Cory Gearrin, who struck out Logan Forsythe, who had two of the four hits off Milone, on four pitches.
- The remaining three relievers who locked down the game were Jesse Biddle, Austin Adams, and Anthony Bass. Not one of them was on the Opening Day roster. (I had to look up Jesse Biddle’s first name to make sure I had it right.) They combined for 3.1 innings of scoreless, two-hit, no-run, no-walk, 4-K ball. Anthony Bass struck out the side in the 9th.
- This Texas team just scored 17 runs against the Mariners in a three-game sweep.
- Weird, but not in a good way: Mitch Haniger struck out three times tonight. He currently has the 22nd-highest K% in baseball, higher than the following players: Ian Desmond, Franmil Reyes, Yasiel Puig, and Khris Davis. Please get well soon, Mitch.
- Kyle Seager has four hits since he returned to the team, and all have gone to left field, because now he is apparently The Wizard of Oppo.
- Jay Bruce walked twice tonight, and then decided to get frisky on the bases:
That was already the third stolen base on the night—Mallex Smith had one earlier, as did Domingo Santana—but it would not be the last. (It’s called foreshadowing, look it up.)
- Honestly, Jay Bruce stealing second can be explained away because Daniel Vogelbach had broken the spacetime continuum just the at-bat before:
- Making the Vogelbach HR live even bigger in lore is the fact that Statcast and pitch tracking and everything was down. That home run went 1,562 feet and you can’t prove it didn’t.
- Mallex Smith was having himself a nice little game tonight, with two hits and no outfield catastrophes, but again, after Vogey broke the plane of reality, he kind of thought why not, and after he walked, proceeded to steal second, then third, then home. Fun fact: the last Mariner to steal home was Dustin Ackley in 2012 (shudder), who was himself the first Mariner to steal home since Chone Figgins in 2010 (shuddering increases). Boy this team has been slow for a long time. It’d be fun if Mallex was playable this year because it’s been a while since there was a Mariners team with truly plus speed.
There’s all kinds of other fun facts about Mallex’s four-steal/stealing for the cycle game: he’s the first player to reach the four-steal-game mark in MLB this season, he’s the first Mariner to steal home since 2012, he’s the first Mariner nine-hole hitter to record four steals since Julio Cruz in 1983, and he’s one of 41 players ever to steal for the cycle (42, now)...including teammate Dee Gordon.
It was a weird, wonderful win, and much-needed after the poor showing on the road trip. There won’t be that many this year, so good on the Mariners for making this one really count.