Today’s game between two clubs with a combined .4% chance of making the playoffs (hint: all .4% belong to the Rangers) was probably of low interest to the wider baseball world, except for a few particular corners:
I will qualify again: Don't know that presence of scouts is as indicative of serious trade talks as once were, but notable presence here this series (and particularly today) by these clubs (among others)— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) July 24, 2019
Minor pitching; Rangers have attractive bullpen pieces
Mike Minor was the real draw for scouts, but Mike Leake refused to allow his Texas counterpart all the glory today, literally snatching the Mike Crown (a ring of Arizona Iced Tea cans stitched together with Slim Jims and studded with a fidget spinner) out of thin air:
This was the most impressive of the plays Leake made today, but he fielded quite a few comebackers, including one in the first inning that saved a run: noted infielder Tim Beckham badly misplayed a ball in left field (it was ruled a triple), but Leake then nabbed a 103 mph rocket shot off the bat of Elvis Andrus and got Danny Santana at third in a rundown. Leake would escape the inning without damage and continue to field his position masterfully, collecting a 102 mph comebacker from Rougned Odor and even fielding an infield popup.
The face of a man who does not trust a single teammate of his to field a ball cleanly pic.twitter.com/u11xsYESD6— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 24, 2019
He also set his own infield alignment at one point:
Now he's setting his own infield alignment. Strong "only one in the group project who cares about their grade" vibes from Leake today. pic.twitter.com/QcKlSEp6tJ— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 24, 2019
Leake’s lone blemish on the day was a three-run home run allowed to pesty Rougned Odor after a pair of two-out singles, including a ground ball that just snuck through. Leake finished the day with nine hits in his seven innings, three runs allowed on the home run, and seven strikeouts, and hopefully a few phone calls made back to home offices about him.
Leake also got a little help from the tandem of J.P. Crawford and Daniel Vogelbach:
Speaking of Vogey, Mike Minor did his best to hold the Mariners off the scoreboard until an unlikely suspect burst through in the fifth:
It’s not that we aren’t used to seeing Vogelbach tee off on fastballs, but we aren’t as used to seeing Vogey tee off on lefties. Coming into today, Vogelbach had a wRC+ of 29 against lefties, with just two home runs in 79 plate appearances. He managed to double that number today:
We have lift off— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) July 24, 2019
Daniel Vogelbach with a moon shot for his 2nd home run of the day! The @Mariners lead the Rangers 5-3 in the bottom of the 6th.#RefreshingPlays | #TrueToTheBlue pic.twitter.com/Tk4UKlXHxi
Following Vogey’s first bomb, the Mariners had built a 4-0 lead on four nearly-consecutive singles before giving back three of the runs on the Odor home run. Vogelbach’s second blast provided a little more breathing room for Anthony Bass and Roenis Elias, both of whom worked scoreless innings in their turns in front of the scout showcase.
Aside from the scouts, there was one group of people for whom this game mattered quite a bit. Tim Lopes, a seven-year vet of the minor leagues, was called up yesterday, and saw his first game action today as a defensive substitution in the ninth. He didn’t have much to do, as Elías worked a five-pitch, one-two-three inning, with a flyout and two groundouts to the left side of the infield. But his family was pretty excited nonetheless:
In a lost season, the few joys we have are seeing players’ lifelong dreams come true as they set foot on an MLB field for the first time. More of these, please.