Being the new kid is always tough. Every new situation comes with a litany of questions about how to act, who to be, and what to do with your hair. As fun and invigorating as a new beginning is, the creeping doubts about everything that can go wrong are almost impossible to keep away.
For Yusei Kikuchi, each start is an inherent reminder that he is new, and that feigned conviction can only disguise discomfort for so long. Sure, there are physical things one can do to assimilate themselves into unfamiliar surroundings. Kikuchi, for example, chose #18, which is the number reserved for aces in Japan. This feels like the baseball equivalent of the new kid in class flexing a Lisa Frank folder on the first day, or bragging about the person they dated at their old school. It’s a clear attempt at showing validity; yes I’m new here, but I also know that I belong, and I’m just as hip as everyone else at this stupid school.
Kikuchi also opted to grow out some loud sideburns. Your mileage may vary on that.
Unfortunately for Kikuchi, he ran into some trouble right away. The beginning of the day is tough for everyone, whether it’s first period math class, an 8:30 a.m. meeting at the office, or the first inning at Angel Stadium. Kikuchi allowed a two-RBI single to cult hero Kevan Smith and then debuted its devastating sequel: RBI single to César Puello.
With that, the Mariners were losing 3-0 before the sun went down, signaling that all of the bros in Orange County could finally stop day drinking White Claws and instead start drinking White Claws mixed with vodka, but with the added fun of texting people who will never, ever respond to them.
The Mariners would briefly climb back to make the score 3-2 after Kyle Seager yanked his third homer of the year and Domingo Santana collected his 48th RBI on a well-placed double. Unfortunately, the script writer for tonight’s game is a huge fan of high school movies. As such, Kikuchi had his requisite run-in with the local bullies. One of them, Tommy La Stella, is the random “That guy?” featured in every ensemble cast. Another bully, Mike Trout, is the A-lister who absolutely dominates the screen in each scene they appear. The third, Shohei Ohtani, is the one you grew up with who has all the characteristics of a friend, but turns out to be just as dastardly as everyone else.
La Stella, Trout and Ohtani walk into the batter's box...— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) June 9, 2019
[sound on for the punch line] pic.twitter.com/qB7Tx1w41Y
Alas, this movie had a surprise second act. Rather than casting Kikuchi as the only new kid, Tayler Scott entered the fold about an hour and 45 minutes in. Just like Lindsay Lohan in the 2004 masterpiece Mean Girls, Scott strode into his new environment with several layered qualities. Promising but maybe lacking in confidence, captivating, nuanced, white and…
* record scratch *
Scott entered the game with runners on first and second. The hitter, Puello, had a golden opportunity to extend Anaheim’s 6-2 lead. He wasted almost no time doing exactly that, sending a sharp single into left field and spoiling Scott’s first day. Despite his best efforts, the newbie couldn’t quite fit in without taking a few lumps first. For those who didn’t watch tonight’s game, here’s footage of Tayler Scott facing his first batter in the big leagues.
Things only got worst in the next inning, as Scott let his guard down and The Plastics* walked all over him. He allowed the first four hitters to reach base, escaping the carnage only after the Angels had established a commanding 10-2 lead.
*Shohei Ohtani is Regina George
*Mike Trout is Gretchen Weiners
*Tommy La Stella is Karen Smith
*Albert Pujols is Regina’s mom
Unlike the sappy tiara scene in Mean Girls, tonight’s Mariner game did not close on a high note. Seattle lost 12-3 and gave up 16 hits. One of the few pitchers they’ll be counting on in the future got his lunch eaten by the Angels. The offense struck out nine times. The defense made two errors. Kikuchi lost to Dillon Peters.
There will certainly be more games like this throughout the season. Everybody gets diarrhea at a Barnes & Noble every once in a while.