If you have ever cooked with small children, you know the tension between wanting to let them help so they can learn and develop important Life Skills, while at the same time trying to keep them from crumbling eggshells into the batter or committing some other disastrous error that screws up the entire project. It’s a tension I imagine the Mariners starters must feel as they carefully, gingerly remove their three-run lead from the oven, only to have the bullpen immediately knock the entire contents of the spice rack all over it. Cooking with kids requires forethought and pre-planning. Pre-measure the ingredients so only the correct amount can be added. Crack eggs into a separate bowl so wayward shells can be easily removed. Most importantly, it requires an investment of time. A twenty-minute recipe for brownies becomes an hour-plus when made alongside small helpers. There are no real shortcuts.
Tonight, Marco Gonzales tied on his “Kiss the Neat Chef!” apron and proceeded to put in a long evening in the kitchen, limiting his bullpen’s involvement to two virtually fail-proof innings. It wasn’t Marco’s most efficient outing, as it took him 115 pitches to clear seven innings, and he got help from two key double plays, one to end the A’s threat in the first inning, and another in the fourth, a slickly-turned unassisted double play by J.P. Crawford, who had a monster night:
That inning helped keep Marco’s pitch count in line after he’d had to throw over sixty pitches in his first three innings; a six-pitch inning in the fifth also granted him a longer leash. Marco struggled some with his command, but also with a strike zone that had some fairly amorphous edges: wide, but not particularly tall, and somewhere else entirely every fifth pitch or so.
Of course, A’s starter Chris Bassitt was working with the same Brigadoon strike zone, and threw almost as many pitches as Marco, but only lasted 5.2 innings while walking twice as many batters (4). The A’s took an early 2-1 lead after both teams small-balled their way to a run on a Matt Chapman triple followed by a Matt Olson single, but the Mariners built a 4-2 lead against Bassitt in the fourth and never gave it back. After Vogelbach and Narváez went down in their first ABs on three pitches between them, they teamed up in the fourth, with Vogelbach walking on four straight pitches followed by Narváez working a full count and then singling. Tim Beckham then made it aboard on a fielding error by Marcus Semien (missed this version of Semien), and J.P. Crawford drove home two on a deep double, his first of two on the night. Crawford, in his first game back off the IL, looked great tonight on both sides of the ball.
As exciting as J.P.’s night was, tonight was the Omar Show. This blast in the seventh gave the Mariners a healthy four-run lead:
And then Mallex Smith (!) made his one hit of the night really count.
Mallex now has a 13-game hitting streak and 18 hits in June, already seven more than he had in all of May.
Thanks to Marco’s strong outing and a six (and then seven) run lead granted by the offense, the Mariners were able to turn the game over in the eighth to one of their more responsible children in Austin Adams. Adams placed a bowl dangerously close to the counter’s edge by walking the first hitter he saw before rebounding to retire the next three hitters, including a strikeout of Khris Davis, who seems to be at that weird in-between stage of transitioning hairstyles:
Also driving me up the wall all night: the fact that the Oakland hats and jerseys were kelly green, but slightly different finishes made them ever-so-slightly off, and yet the coaches still had their forest-green jackets on:
Matt Festa, who is just tall enough now when he stands on the step stool to reach the mixer, was given the ninth, and while it was a little hairy (a walk and a HBP), he made it through without surrendering any additional runs. The brownies were delicious, and everyone got some except Khris Davis, the A’s coaching staff, and anyone in the stadium holding a drum, because actions have consequences.