I’ve always had strong opinions about, oh, pretty much everything. From movies, to food, to politics, when I like something, I really like it. When I don’t, I really don’t.
Admittedly, a weakness of mine is that I have a hard time articulating what exactly it is that I like about things. Look, The Great Mouse Detective is probably the greatest Disney movie ever made. Why? I don’t know. It’s just great! It has mice, and one of them is a detective. What’s not to like?
This weakness has driven some to classify these opinions with harsh words such as “indefensible,” “asinine,” and “really stupid.” Hey, what can I say? I have convictions.
One of those “asinine” convictions is that I love Mike Leake.
Look at him. What isn’t to love? The dude is 5’10” and weighs 170 pounds. He bought the guys in the clubhouse a gift last season: ottomans. His Player’s Weekend nickname was “Sparky”. The dude is possibly the most normal dude to be a pitcher in the history of the Major Leagues.
He is normal, he is consistent, and he looks like he should have no business in baseball. I like him, and even if my reasoning makes no sense, I am sad that, with the non-waiver trade deadline tomorrow, it looks increasingly likely that tonight will have been Mike Leake’s final start as a Seattle Mariner. He didn’t get the win, but at least the Mariners won it. If this is it, I’ll miss Mike Leake.
That Mike Leake wasn’t credited with the win was not the fault of Mariners’ hitters. Domingo Santana and Kyle Seager each hit a dinger in the first two innings to give Leake two runs of support. Kyle’s dinger, it should be noted, was partially due to a miscue by Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields.
It would have had to have been an excellent play, but it did go off of DeShields’ glove.
The Mariners followed that up with two more runs in the third, one of which was the result of another couple of defensive miscues by the Rangers. With the Mariners checking in as possibly one of the worst defensive teams in club history, it’s nice to see another team racking up errors for a change.
Mike Leake, having been gifted a four run lead, cruised through his first five innings. His perfect game and no-hitter bid was sadly squashed in the second inning, leading to hundreds of extremely funny people to glance knowingly at those around them and say “Ope, there goes the perfecto!” I should know, I was one of them. And yes, it was hilarious. It’s all in the delivery.
In any case, Leake was sitting pretty with a 5-1 lead going into the sixth inning, which is when the wheels came off for him. The third time through the lineup is tough for any pitcher, and it’s especially tough for a pitcher without overpowering “stuff”. As fun as Mike Leake, nobody has ever accused him of having “stuff”.
Sadly, it showed.
This would be the first of four runs that Leake allowed in the inning, and he was ultimately pulled for Sam Tuivailala, disqualifying him from a possible win.
Fortunately, the Mariners managed to get the win for Tuivailala instead. Remember Kyle’s dinger in the second inning? Well, he followed that up by muscling a blooper for an RBI single in the fifth, and then finally leaving no doubt with this beauty into the gap in the seventh.
This was Kyle’s first triple of the season and just his third since 2016. He would go on to score, putting the Mariners up 8-5, a lead which they would not relinquish. If any team was going to catalyze Kyle’s positive regression, it was going to be the Texas Rangers.
When the dust settled, and Roenis Elías retired Nomar Mazara to seal the game, the Mariners suddenly found themselves the proud owners of a six-game winning streak.
Not everything was perfect. Mike Leake’s trade deadline audition went astray (though he did demonstrate reliability twice through the lineup). The Mariners inched closer to dropping from the sixth draft pick.
But for the last week, baseball has been fun again. I thought Mike Leake was fun, even if nobody else did. Kyle Seager was fun tonight, and we can pretend he might stay fun, even though we know he won’t. The Mariners don’t do this often, but when they do, it reasserts what is perhaps my stupidest conviction of all: that Mariners baseball is fun.