The last time the Rays beat the Mariners in Seattle, 37-year-old Willie Bloomquist started at second base. Rickie Weeks pinch-hit for Jesús Sucre in the eighth. The outfield of Seth Smith, Austin Jackson, and Nelson Cruz was right out of a Jack Z fever dream. None other than Mike Montgomery took the loss for the M’s. Pixar’s Inside Out hadn’t hit theaters just yet, and late-2010s cultural phenomena like Stranger Things and Pokémon Go were over a year away from being released.
In other words, it has been a long, long time since Tampa’s triumphed in the Pacific Northwest.
Marco Gonzales, in fairness, had my attention from his first pitch of the night, when he hit 91 MPH on his fastball against Travis d’Arnaud and put him away on an excellent changeup four pitches later. He would follow that up by immediately walking OBP machine Tommy Pham, and had to labor around two hits and a second walk the very next frame. Thankfully, he was able to dig in with runners on first and second and two away, and froze d’Arnaud on a perfect cutter to escape any further trouble:
Marco was dominant after the first two shaky innings, striking out seven more Rays through the rest of his start while keeping walks under lock and key. His curveball had a little extra velocity - I saw multiple at 78 - and combined with its extra bite and increased deployment, he was able to steal plenty of strikes with it. Austin Meadows and Mike Brosseau both looked silly waving at it, as well:
He would pitch into the seventh inning, a nasty comebacker from Willy Adames the final blow. Though Gonzales deftly fielded the play for the first out, the combination of a baseball ricocheting from the back of his knee and a pesky sixth inning was enough for Scott Servais, and I can’t say I blame him. After a rough start his last time out, a rebound like this against a good-hitting team was a nice salve.
Unfortunately for Marco and whoever was watching tonight, the bats couldn’t get much going against the quintet of Rays pitchers that were deployed. Yeah, yeah, Domingo poked a base hit through the left side to bring home Mallex in the third. Show me something I haven’t seen before. Something like this swing from Daniel Vogelbach turning into a stand-up double - against a lefty, no less?
Or something along the lines of a 31-year-old rookie tying the game after an excellent at-bat?
Ryan Court is almost certainly not going to be on the big league roster a week from now, but you can’t help but be thrilled for the guy who was playing in indy ball not three months ago. Not known for his glove, he made a couple nice plays in right, too, making a sliding catch to end the third and crashing into the wall immediately after a running grab:
Cory Gearrin and Matt Magill (...when did he get here?) were able to keep the Rays at bay, but Anthony Bass melted down in the ninth. After allowing a leadoff single to new Ray Eric Sogard, he walked Kevin Kiermaier on a full count, got Brosseau on a sacrifice, and put Adames on to set up a double play. Decent strategy, I suppose? None other than former Mariner farmhand Ji-Man Choi came on to pinch-hit, and he’s made a decent name for himself in recent years, putting up a collective 108 wRC+ since breaking into the bigs in 2017. Naturally, Bass walked him with the bases loaded to force in the go-ahead run, and allowed two more runs to cross on an error and fielder’s choice. Fun fact: literally none of the Rays’ five runs tonight scored on a hit. Isn’t this sport great?
There was, at least, one final moment of joy tonight:
If only for tonight, it was Ryan Court’s world and we just lived in it.
So this iteration of Edgar Weekend hasn’t gotten off to a great start. That’s okay! Nothing could be worse than the debacle against the Angels in 2017, and Seattle’s starting TBA tomorrow evening - a fun guessing game of Who is the Opener for Tommy Milone? My money’s on Matt Wisler, but honestly, you could throw out a name straight out of the fifth year of an MLB: The Show franchise and I would buy it at this point in the season. Regardless of who it is, though, here’s hoping the M’s can salvage at least one win this weekend and exorcise the Deadgar demon.