The 2019 season has been an exercise in making lemonade out of lemons. What that famous adage neglects to mention, however, is that you can’t just make lemonade. You need access to a metric ton of sugar, or stevia, or honey, or coconut water, or whatever, you can’t just drink lemons and water, is the point. You need a little sweetness. Today, that sweetness was served up mostly by the season’s Most Fun Mariners:
Austin Adams served as the Opener today, and things went significantly better than last time. After retiring the fearsome Tommy La Stella, who has hopefully paid the wizard his price by now, Adams struck out Mike Trout, including making him look very silly on this death spiral slider:
And then ending the inning with a similarly nasty slider to Ohtani:
Maybe the Mariners are peppering Adams into the first inning to try to feature him as a trade candidate, and as much as I like hoarding prospects, I will be a little sad to see Adams go, if he does. I enjoy his mettle on the mound and the way he chews his gum like it’s personally wronged him. I also enjoy 1-2-3 innings where Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani both strike out. They are, and I cannot stress this enough, extremely my jam.
Every year that the Mariners are truly, lamentably terrible, there seems to be one player who, seemingly out of nowhere, rises up above the sea of terrible, a surprising player who serves as a comforting inn’s glow in the middle of a long night’s journey. This year, it’s Tom Murphy who is leaving the light on for us:
Murphy, who has a hilarious line (Sub-4% walk rate! Over-40% K rate! Slugging .554!), gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead that held up into the sixth, dented only by a Tommy La Stella solo HR (I hope that wizard extracted a sufficiently high price).
In the sixth, Edwin Encarnacion and Daniel Vogelbach decided that lead could use some padding, and went back-to-back on solo shots. We’ll get back to EE later, but let’s take a moment to admire Vogelbach’s HR, which traveled 448 feet, Vogey’s longest (recorded—remember, there was no Statcast for his shot that went upper-deck at T-Mobile) shot of the season.
This season has issued some challenges so far, but the emergence of Daniel Vogelbach as a legitimate major-leaguer has definitely been one of the best parts of the season. Next step: get him into the HR derby. #Vogey4Derby
Wade LeBlanc held on for six innings, allowing just the one run to La Stella and another in the 7th, while striking out eight. Meanwhile, after the Vogey-Edwin back-to-back dongs, the Mariners would go on to score in each of the next three frames. In the seventh, Edwing hit a milestone:
Encarnación came into today slugging .509 and now has 20 HRs on the season. After starting off Spring Training so slow he was going backwards, EE has started posting numbers more in line with his 2016-2017 campaigns. Moreover, he has been deeply fun in a season somewhat lacking on that front. My favorite Edwing Thing, beyond the tape-measure HRs of course, is the little expressions he makes, both when he is amused and dismayed by the proceedings:
Obviously, Edwin is not long for this team; he and his monster shot HRs should be helping out a contender down the stretch. Perhaps one that has the least HRs of all contending teams? Let’s just make a quick check of FanGraphs and...
Ah. Well. This is awkward. Nevertheless, watching the parrot ride around has been one of the bright spots this year, as has seeing Edwin’s personality trickle out. In a rare postgame interview with Encarnación, Shannon Drayer asked what happened with Domingo Santana when he slipped and fell out on the warning track during this game. “I don’t know...a banana?” deadpanned Edwin.
The Mariners added two more runs in the eighth and ninth innings, each on solo HRs: one courtesy of Tom Murphy, his second on the day, because let’s get weird, and one from Kyle Seager. While it’s been fun to watch Seager put the ball in the opposite field, it’s also fun to see him recover some of his power stroke. He’s up to an ISO close to .200, already 20 points higher than last year, and considering he’s only recently crossed 50 plate appearances for the season, there’s hope Seager can recover some from his poor 2018.
This is the Mariners’ first series win since mid-May, and as they head on to face the red-hot Twins, there’s not a high expectation for them to continue the streak. But thanks largely to the contributions of 2019’s Most Fun Mariners, they head there on a high note.