In their lone, miserable season of existence, the Seattle Pilots finished 64-98, 20 out of 24 teams. The Baltimore Orioles finished 1969 109-53 for the best record in baseball and went to the World Series, where they lost to the Mets. Today each team tried their best to recreate their 1969 selves, as the Mariners fell to the lowly Orioles, 8-4.
The Orioles had equally lousy odds to win any of these games, but if they were going to win one of them, a game started by Andrew Cashner is a good bet. Cashner has quietly been very solid for the struggling Orioles, surrendering three runs or fewer in 11 of his 15 starts and posting quality starts in seven of his last ten starts. He was solid again today, going six innings and surrendering just two runs. That, plus a stellar inning from Jimmy Yacabonis where he struck out the side, was enough to keep the Mariners from being able to climb back into this one while the pitching staff was busy hemorrhaging runs.
Perhaps inhabited by the spirit of the great 1969 Oriole team, today’s objectively terrible Baltimore team played fantastically. As mentioned, Cashner was solid and Yacabonis—owner of a 5.85 FIP and a virtually identical K and BB% (close to 10%, a terrible mark for both!)—looked unhittable, but the defense also made several spectacular plays to take hits away from the Mariners. I had at least three starred plays in my scorebook, the most impressive of which was this one:
You can’t even be mad about that! That’s just good baseball. That would have been Vogelbach’s second double on the day; his first put the Mariners on the board in the first inning as he continues to be one of the most fun things about the 2019 Mariners.
Not fun: the pitching. Tommy Milone gave the lead right back with change, allowing a three-run homer in the fourth. None of the relievers, with the exception of Matt Festa in the ninth, could keep the Orioles off the board, giving up a total of four hits, five runs, four walks and just two strikeouts over their combined three innings. The Mariners were able to scrape another couple of runs off the non-Yacabonis Orioles relievers, but the deficit was just too much for the humble bats to overcome, even as Domingo Santana, who doesn’t care much for nostalgia, tried his darnedest:
As far as losses go, I’m pretty sanguine about this one. I was at the ballpark today and, as usual, the Mariners made up for a less-than-entertaining product on the field with some extra flourish. All the Turn Back the Clock details were thoughtfully done, from an old-school “Go Go You Pilots” vinyl banner in the left field bleachers to retro stadium advertisements using old-school logos for Oh Boy Oberto to an analog hydroplane race (they had teams of actual pilots from Alaska Air holding up cardboard planes run the race) to a stadium organist. MarinersVision ran advertisements for upcoming promotions like “moon boots” and a “mustache comb,” and displayed an ad for the Seattle Pop Festival. There was even some vintage pricing: a bag of popcorn for 50 cents, and a scorecard with old school-style graphics for a dollar.
We sometimes make fun of the team’s efforts to draw fans despite a less-than-stellar product on the field, but games like this, the Lou-au themed night, etc. are experiences that linger long after the losing is over. I won’t remember the exact outcome of this game, despite carefully noting each play into my scorebook, but I will remember sitting with good friends as we pointed out little details around the ballpark. Just in case I do forget, though, I have a slick-looking Seattle Pilots hat to help remind me.