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The Future is Here, and it is Kyle Lewis

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Suddenly the off-season seems too close

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I always had pretty bad stage fright growing up. I was in choir, even the advanced choir you had to audition to get into, but just the thought of performing a solo filled me with a fear so intense I could barely breathe. I sat in my classes in constant fear of being called on to answer a question, or to read a passage from a textbook. Any sort of assigned speech made me sick to my stomach for weeks leading up to it. I don’t know exactly what I was so afraid of - not executing the task perfectly, I guess. Of publicly making a mistake. Of being laughed at. Teenagers are the actual worst, so it kind of makes sense. But now, having made one to two mistakes in my life, I’ve learned that the more mistakes you make, the more you realize it’s okay to make them.

I’m not quite so terrified of *being seen by people* anymore, but if I had to go out and do literally anything live in front of some 15,000 people I’d be a complete mess. Even if it was something I knew I was great at, something I’d been doing my whole life, I would at least consider backing out of the whole thing. What if I missed a high note? What if I tripped? What if I forgot the lyrics and couldn’t even finish? (For the record, this singing comparison no longer applies - I’m simply not very good at it.)

That’s pretty much what happened to Justin Dunn tonight. I’m sure he had imagined his major league debut countless times. He probably had visions of striking out the side, or of coaxing an inning-ending ground ball out from a Mike Trout or a Jose Altuve, preserving the shutout. Instead he walked five batters and was pulled before getting out of even one inning. His only two outs were sacrifice fly balls that scored runs. It really could not have gone any worse. And you know what? Justin Dunn is literally the only person upset with Justin Dunn now.

He’ll get another chance to get back out there, and there won’t be quite as much pressure, because it’ll never be his debut again. So he missed most of the notes, tripped over the mic cord and literally fell off the stage - his next appearance will be a tiny bit easier, and the one after that even more so. And someday, when he does strike out the side, this first start won’t matter at all.

I’m sure this would provide him no comfort right now, but he got the hardest part out of the way tonight, and now that the worst happened and he lived through it, he can move on to just playing baseball, like he’s been doing for years.

Dunn’s teammates helped him out in the second to ensure he wouldn’t take the loss. Kyle Lewis continued to demonstrate that he should never see the minors again by leading off the inning with a double, and Dylan Moore did… what Dylan Moore does?... tying the game at 2 with a home run.

Also in the 2nd inning:

One inning later Omar Narvaez homered in Kyle Seager, who had walked.

And then Kyle Lewis, who will hit a home run in every game forever, hit his third in three games in the bottom of the 5th to make it a 5-2 game.

On the pitching side of things, Zac Grotz took over for Dunn and needed just one pitch to get out of the bases-loaded jam he inherited. He gave up one single in the 2nd inning, but was otherwise untouched and passed the ball off to Tommy Milone to start the 3rd. Milone was dominant, sending down the first nine batters he faced to get through the 5th inning. He finally gave up a hit in the sixth inning, a single to Phillip Irvin, and encountered a bit of bad luck in the 7th when, with one runner on, a grounder hit back toward the mound took an awkward bounce off Milone’s leg (or something?) and died in the grass, allowing runners on 1st and 2nd with two outs.

Scott Servais decided this was a good time to take Milone out (probably good, get him out before he starts to struggle) and replace him with Dan Altavilla (almost always struggling), and it went about how we would guess, with Altavilla immediately giving up a base hit to score the runner from 2nd and put runners on 2nd and 3rd. He then walked the next batter to load the bases, and the inevitable grand slam was awarded to Freddy Galvis. What a shame to see such solid work from Milone go down like that.

“Now I’ll strike someone out,” Altavilla said to himself, striking out Phillip Ervin and heading back to the dugout, the top of the 7th over, the score now 7-5 Cincinnati.

Dan Altavilla made his major league debut August 27th, 2016. He pitched one excellent inning of relief for the Mariners. He threw only nine pitches, striking out one and allowing no base runners. And here he is with an ERA over 8 for the year (admittedly in only 9.1 innings), with more walks than innings pitched. This isn’t so much to rag on Dan Altavilla (it is), but to point out that the outcome of a player’s major league debut is in no way an indicator of his performance going forward.

Somewhere in the 7th inning the Reds remembered they aren’t actually as bad as the 2019 Mariners, and they sought to get their revenge for their previous two losses. Curt Casali and Eugenio Suarez each hit two-run home runs off Matt Wisler - a combined grand slam, if you will - and the Reds were suddenly ahead 11-5.

Wisler’s struggles facilitated the entrance of Art Warren, the final call-up to make his debut. He entered the game with two outs, and although he did give up a walk and a base hit, a sliding catch in foul territory by Kyle Lewis got him out of the inning.

The Mariners lost 11-5, but there is Kyle Lewis.