I can think of few outcomes as certain as the Mariners losing this game. In the first inning Fangraphs had us pegged for a win expectancy of ~38%. We hadn’t even started playing and we had already lost.
Fresh off a no-hitter from a game started by Aaron Sanchez, who—contrary to popular opinion—is a baseball player, the hapless, silly, woe-begone M’s were faced with Justin Verlander and the Monstars of baseball. The MonStros, if you will (trademark pending). They countered with a baseball player named Tommy and opened with another one named Sam. An actual toddler was playing right field and a made-up player named Matt Magill pitched. It was not going to go well.
And yet, it wasn’t that bad.
Which is sort of a victory. I had a metaphor planned for this game: the Mariners moving forward with their rebuild much as I just moved to San Diego two days ago, you have to tear down to rebuild, etc., etc., but this game didn’t really warrant such literary aspirations. Whatever. The game we were supposed to lose, we lost. We were swept by the best team in baseball. This isn’t news, this isn’t interesting, this isn’t a metaphor. It just is what happened.
So. In light of this gorgeous (in SD at least) summer Sunday afternoon and my desire to be out in it, I will condense this game into Questions Of Interest. Here are some of those Questions Of Interest.
Did the Opener Work?
Eh, not really! Sam Tuivailala worked a scoreless first inning, showing off a mid-90s heater and a tight slider, but control was an issue, even in the first.
He threw most of his pitches in the zone in the heart of the plate and missed wide enough on the balls that he didn’t elicit swings. In the second inning, Sam had trouble finding the plate and walked the first two batters without recording an out, thus leaving Tommy Milone to pitch behind the proverbial 8-Balls-No-Strikes.
It’s an interesting middle ground with the opener. If he gets through the first inning unscathed do you try to squeeze one more inning out of him? It worked recently with Erik Swanson, for instance, but I’d like to do some research on openers who come out for the second inning. It seems a bit too random to me to just let pitchers go until they are bad.
Did the Mariners Offense Manage a Hit?
Barely! They extended their hitless streak to 15 innings first and Verlander looked entirely dominant for most of the game.
Look at this:
Sure Statcast has better charts, but look at the locations on this EQCKFC Tracer. There is not much you can do against Verlander when he has his stuff and he’s Bob-Rossing the strike zone like this. He was untouchable. Could not be touched.
Until the 4th inning, when the unlikeliest of heroes hit into the unlikeliest of outcomes.
The ghost of Kyle Seager stepped to the plate, a wispy, translucent spirit who has not yet given up the will to play. Kyle Seager swings with all of the strength left in his haunted, tortured soul and hits a ground ball over the third base bag, lugging the shell of his corporeal form down the first base line. That doesn’t sound odd. But here is a chart.
This year Kyle Seager has hit exactly one ground ball down the left field line. One. He hit this ball 41.7 MPH (the lowest EV in the game) with a hit expectancy of .180. It also was barely in play.
So, to break up the no-no the Mariners needed a player with a BABIP of .229, to hit a ground ball to the spot he is least likely to hit it, with the softest exit velocity in the game, only for it to be fair by four-inches. If there’s a calculation for the likelihood of this event I do not know it, so I’m going to say it was about .06% likely.
You might say, yeah but there was a hit later in the game, so this doesn’t matter. And to that I would say: Shhhh I’m trying to narrative.
Does Tommy Milone Have the Best Changeup in Baseball?
Yes. Without a doubt. Best.
Look, what do you want me to say, OK? No, probably not. But he does have a whiff rate of 30% with his change and a wOBA against of .208. Is that enough? It’s good, it’s really good. Want proof?
Here are photos of players after they saw it:
Here is Jake Marisnick auditioning to be Viktor Krum’s sidekick (this is a very lame Harry Potter joke):
Tommy Milone generated 11 Swinging Strikes with the change today out of 38 thrown, for a rate of 28%. Justin Verlander rocked a 16% swinging strike rate today, with no pitch more unhittable than Tommy’s change.
Tommy may not have a future with the Mariners, maybe not even with the MLB, but he has made the most of his time here by throwing his changeup almost as often (35%) as he throws his fastball (39%), which is the closest that ratio has been in his career. With the deadline gone, we can’t trade him, so his success will simply have to be enjoyed for the amusement it provides. So, be amused.
How Comfortable are Tommy Milone and Omar Narvaez?
I don’t know, you tell me.
They also utilize essential nonverbal communication.
Was the “Dylan Moore: Right Fielder” Experiment a Catastrophe?
Shockingly, no. His first start in right field things went just fine. Much like Dylan Moore.
Every game I cover Dylan Moore seems to provide some kind of value, and today he went wild with a walk, a triple, and a nifty catch in the outfield.
I think I found something in common with the performances on offense and defense today.
Here is the triple.
In the mood for some Mexi-Fries? Dylan Moore has you covered.— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 4, 2019
Thanks to his triple in today's game, you can snag some FREE Mexi-Fries tomorrow at @TacoTimeNW. Just download their app to get yours. pic.twitter.com/dZ7ifNPhNa
Here’s the catch.
Notice the similarities?
I’m not saying this little quirk is the reason Dylan succeeded today.
It’s ridiculous to assert that moving a tongue a certain direction would have any impact on performance.
All I will say is that Dylan Moore has a 92 wRC+, has played all seven non battery positions to the tune of .9 DEF fWAR, and has thus far been .3 WAR above replacement. He is an old rookie with flaws but you could do worse than have a utility guy who makes Justin Verlander visibly angry.
Is This Ever Going to End?
Can I See Kyle Seager’s Dinger?
Can Vogey Ever Be Mad?
Can Scott Servais Ever Be Mad?
Should This Be The End of This Computer-Crashing Recap?
Perhaps. The Mariners are reeling from being no-hit a second time and they put up a fight in a lost season against the best team in baseball and the best starter in baseball. It wasn’t a great game, but it’s a game they competed in. Take a look at Vogelbach’s intensity, Dylan Moore’s wayward tongue, Seager’s ghostly smile, Tommy Milone’s tattoo’d glare, and you see some glimpses of fight in this team, of some kind of hope.
I write this from my new living space in San Diego, surrounded by boxes marked “Books and Other Crap” that I have yet to put away. There’s still work to be done on this move, the transition stuck in that grinding place between gears. My shelves are empty. My art leaning against the walls, my forks are nowhere to be seen and I am pretty sure I left my best saucepan in the Bay Area. Everything about my day-to-day experience has changed, people, places, weather, air, water. It may take me awhile to unpack everything both literally and figuratively and find all the right places to put them. The only way I can do it is box by box. One box at a time until I look up one day, and everything is right where it should be.
Was That Really Necessary?
Fine, here is a lady wearing a mascot hat.