Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Edwin Encarnación hit a homer in tonight’s game.
Oh, and so did Domingo Santana.
And Kyle Seager.
And Tom Murphy.
That’s right — a player who signed with the Mariners organization yesterday, and who took batting practice earlier today in TACOMA, wound up going yard against one of the best teams in baseball. And the Seattle Mariners — the same team that’s won just 12 of its last 49 games, the one that finds a way to sow doubt at almost every turn — dominated the Astros today 14–1 in front of 13,652 brave souls.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve checked your phone many times in the last few days (or weeks) only to see that the Mariners are already losing after just one inning. The first inning has been particularly tricky this season:
Seattle now allowing .71 runs per 1st inning this season.— Joe (@JoeDoyleWSU) June 6, 2019
That's good for 28th in baseball
1) Minnesota: .024
28) Seattle: 0.71
29) Washington: 0.75
30) San Francisco: 1.02(!)
And generally, those runs have been a death knell for the M’s:
Astros up 1-0 on the sac fly. Mariners have not won a game where the opponent scores first since April 11.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) June 6, 2019
But after that lone run in the first, starter Mike Leake settled down and managed to throw the team’s first complete game of the season. Leake scattered six hits and two walks over nine innings, striking out five different Astros. He threw 119 pitches, 81 of which were strikes — both of which were career highs.
Yet the fact that the night was all about the offense, even despite those impressive numbers for Zach’s favorite player, speaks to the power shown throughout the lineup tonight.
At the top of the order was Mallex Smith, fresh off his minor league stint and looking far more confident at the plate. Number Zero finished 3-5 today with three RBI and two runs. It was after he got the M’s on the board in the fifth that the power switch finally flipped.
Let’s start with the two-run shot off the bat of Domingo Santana. He takes a middle-away fastball on a full count and goes with the pitch, depositing it in right field for his 11th dinger of the season.
Two batters later, it was famed backup catcher Tom Murphy’s turn. Since being acquired by the Mariners back in March, Murphy has been rock solid across 73 PA, with a .300/.329/.529 line and better catching defense than M’s starter Omar Narvaez. He kept the good times flowing with a laser to left.
A couple more singles later, we got a towering left field shot from Encarnación, the 397th of his career and a no-doubter.
At this point, even the more pessimistic of Mariners fans were probably feeling pretty good, given the 9-1 lead. It’s not a feeling we’re used to very often, given the malaise that’s generally associated itself with this team in 2019.
That’s when the most unlikely of players, Mac Williamson, stepped to the plate in the 8th as a pinch-hitter. I’ll let Ryan Divish explain:
Mac Williamson had his flight out of NC delayed yesterday. He got to SeaTac about 3 am. He reported to Tacoma today and was working out pregame when they told him he needed to be in Seattle. He hasn’t played in a game in two weeks— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) June 6, 2019
Williamson was only promoted after Braden Bishop was discovered to have a lacerated spleen (ouch). He doesn’t have much of a track record — the 28-year-old outfielder has bounced around the Giants organization since 2012 but has never been able to hit for average, putting up a career MLB slash line of .207/.283/.359. This year, Williamson has been on a tear: Through 98 plate appearances for the Giants’ AAA affiliate, he put up a .378/.459/.756 slash line.
The mere fact that Williamson was heading up to Seattle instead of Ian Miller surprised many; Miller was already part of the organization and has seemingly proven himself at the AAA level, and his speed & ability to hold down CF figured to be immensely valuable to this defensive wreck of a ballclub.
But instead it was Williamson getting the call. And Williamson did not disappoint.
When you watch baseball over a long season, especially when you’re following a mediocre team, you live for moments like this. You live for the random Wednesday night in early June when something like this happens, when a miracle presents itself, when you can forget about the team’s record and just appreciate the baseball. Tonight, we got to appreciate the baseball.