Sometimes, a loss isn’t so bad. Tonight, one could even say it was expected. The Twins have been far and away the best hitting team in baseball, coming into today having socked more homers than anyone not named the Mariners (yeah still) and run a team wRC+ of 124 - a full five points higher than the next-best team. This same Twins team feasted on the M’s last month, taking three out of four in Seattle in commanding fashion. No shame in losing to these guys in a rebuilding year. None at all.
For seven innings, though, it looked like they could have pulled it out.
The first two innings passed by in a jiff, with Martín Pérez allowing just a walk to Edwin Encarnación and Mike Leake surrendering only a double to Jorge Polanco. Pérez kept dealing to kick off the third, getting Dee Gordon and Dylan Moore on quick groundouts, but Mallex Smith legged out a dribbler to second, Domingo Santana laced a grounder through the right side, and Edwin did this:
Edwin Encarnación leading the American League in home runs in mid-June is, er, decidedly not how I was expecting his Mariner tenure to go, but I wouldn’t have it any other way at this point. The parrot has now taken eight rides in June, his season wRC+ sits at a Nelson Cruz-esque 146, and he’s putting up his best strikeout rate since 2015. Moving on will be hard to do.
That glorious 3-0 lead didn’t last long, though, as Eddie Rosario kicked off the fourth with a ringing double into right. Despite worming two quick outs and being one strike away from wiggling out, Leake couldn’t defeat Jonathan Schoop...
...or Jason Castro (side note this may have been the worst pitch I’ve seen a Mariner throw all year and that is SAYING something):
Man. Thankfully, these were the only home runs all game, and the M’s escaped tonight with at least part of the home run crown. Hooray! The new tie lasted maybe ten minutes, as well, with walks to Mallex and Edwin setting up a really nice piece of hitting from our large son.
For as much damage that Daniel Vogelbach has done to the league, he’s conspicuously struggled against left-handed pitching - he came into tonight’s game with just a 41 wRC+ facing them. He had fouled off several high and outside pitches before getting a hold of one here, and it was more than enough to get Smith home easily. Well done, Vogey! New and improved (maybe? hopefully?) Kyle Seager tacked on another run in the seventh, once again hitting the ball the other way to bring home a run. That’s still a sight I’m not used to seeing.
Coming off of a complete game his last time out, Leake was again very solid, going seven strong innings with half a dozen strikeouts and nary a walk. The homers in the fourth were his only hiccup, and he set the side down in order in each of his last three frames, though he did get home help from a Polanco TOOTBLAN and a strong throw from Mac Williamson:
E N H A N C E
Hilarious. In all, tonight was a Mike Leake outing in its purest form, down to the solid control, pair of homers, and seven groundouts. I, for one, will miss him when he’s inevitably traded. I wish he could say the same about us.
It wouldn’t be a true 2019 Mariners loss without a bullpen meltdown, and boy, did we see one tonight. Brandon Brennan, Rule 5 guy turned relief ace turned struggle bus passenger, got knocked around again to open the eighth. Max Kepler and Polanco ripped back-to-back doubles, and Brennan wisely walked Nelson Cruz (sigh) before giving way to our Austin Adams (as an aside, the other Austin Adams is now with the Tigers. Wonder how that happened). Adams wormed a flyout out of Eddie Rosario, but promptly gave up the lead on the objectively worst way to give up a lead:
Miguel Sanó did go down swinging one pitch later, but Adams hadn’t gotten out of the woods yet. He didn’t, either, with Marwin González once again delivering the killing blow with a go-ahead single into right. His Mariner killing ways haven’t stopped just because he left our division, with a .400/.438/.467 slash line in the last series looking all too familiar. Despite threatening with hits from Mallex and Domingo to lead off, the M’s were turned away, and another loss was added to the pile - although you can easily make the case that the Twins got a little help against Edwin.
That's a tough call from Mike Estabrook pic.twitter.com/xK8F1WZODr— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) June 12, 2019
Again, this loss aside from that egregious strike call wasn’t too upsetting. The bullpen didn’t get it done? Pssh. We’ve long since reached the conclusion that no matter how you slice it, this relief corps is likely a bottom-five unit in the game, and nights like these are gonna happen. Mallex kept climbing out of the hole he started in, notching two hits, a walk, and a stolen base, Santana and Seager had multi-hit games, Vogey got a key hit against a lefty... all good things one can take from tonight. Tomorrow features an opener before Tommy Milone takes over the show, and his identity is shrouded in mystery for now. Well, it at least won’t be Austin Adams.