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Cleveland wins game of solo HRs by taking revolutionary step of hitting two-run HR

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Have three true outcomes, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners lost to Cleveland today in a game that, while probably pleasing Baseball Overlord Rob Manfred (time of game: 2:41), did nothing to prop up a sagging Seattle team that’s now lost six straight games. Every run scored in this game by the Mariners was via the home run, and all but two of Cleveland’s. In personal news, my brief infatuation with power hitting is over, and I’m back to wishing desperately for the Mariners to work some counts, grind out some base hits, and keep the line moving.

To wit: Carlos Carrasco went just shy of eight innings today, and needed just 94 pitches to get there. That might not seem ultra-impressive until you consider the fact that Carrasco finished the seventh inning at just 77 pitches before tiring some in the 8th. The Mariners didn’t get record their first walk until the ninth (!) inning, when Encarnación earned a walk off reliever Brad Hand. and of their seven hits, only three were of the non-dinger variety, with Mitch Haniger recording two of them (including a double that was probably a home run in 20-degree warmer weather). Carrasco made four mistakes:

  • A first-inning middle-middle changeup to Edwin Encarnacion that was promptly deposited on the moon;
  • A fourth-inning middle-low changeup to Daniel Vogelbach that was destroyed to right field;
  • A fifth-inning first pitch middle-in fastball to Dylan Moore, who had two hits off Carrasco today;
  • An eighth-inning middle-middle fastball to Tim Beckham.

Unfortunately, the Mariners weren’t able to get any runners on base for any of those solo shots, as they continue to strike out at an alarming rate (12 today, with every member of the lineup striking out at least once except Beckham, and Domingo Santana notching an unsightly three strikeouts) and look mostly hopeless against any kind of elite (or even elite-ish) pitching. To his credit, Dee Gordon hit the ball hard in at least two of his ABs against Carrasco (91 and 99 EVs), but ended his day with nothing to show for it. The Mariners had squandered the few opportunities they had with runners on, like in the sixth inning when Haniger singled, only to have a strike ‘em out/throw ‘em out double play with Haniger making an ill-advised steal (it was later called a foul ball, but then Haniger got picked off first anyway and Vogelbach struck out, because sometimes the universe attempts to give us gifts and we say to the universe, not today). The four home runs given up were a career high for Carrasco, but it was, like I say whenever presented with a plate of fresh Northwest oysters, not enough.

Speaking of squandering a gift, Cleveland could have racked up more runs with Mike Leake in the game—having a very Mike Leake day of 6 IP, 3R, 2BB, 4K—after a bad pickoff throw from Leake squirted away down the right-field line, and Lindor aggressively took two bases on the error. Another poor throw into third and Lindor took the chance of running home, where he was promptly thrown out, and Leonys Martín then struck out to end the inning. That could have been a momentum-shifter for the Mariners, except in the top of the sixth [gestures dispiritedly at previous paragraph].

The Mariners took the lead on Beckham’s eighth-inning home run that was crushed to dead center, but Connor Sadzeck gave the lead right back in the bottom of the inning. Bringing in Sadzeck in relief of Elías, who had thrown 1.2 innings in his first appearance after being listed as “day to day” following some arm tenderness, wasn’t the worst idea; Sadzeck has been one of the more solid options out of the bullpen, and Carlos Santana has been crushing off lefties. Unfortunately, Sadzeck didn’t have command of his slider, something that’s been much improved lately but not today, as his fourth slider of the at-bat resulted in this:

It’s tempting to pin this loss on the pitching, but facts are facts: four runs with this pitching staff just isn’t enough. You can’t have over half the lineup go 0-fer on the day and expect to win. Your utility infielder cannot be the best hitter on the day. The losses will continue until the ABs improve.

Steve Jobs is quoted, perhaps apocryphally, as saying “quality is better than quantity. One home run is better than two doubles.” What’s missing in that quote, of course, is sequencing. Hitting four home runs is great. But today, Cleveland’s two home runs were better.