(Don’t worry, I’m not going to write the whole recap in pirate voice; the idea did occur to me, but after typing a few sentences I realized I was taking things too farrrr.)
What I will do, as a reward for reading this recap of a day game between two bad teams in late September, is tell you some pirate jokes. Because jokes are great, and I always wish I knew more. Ahoy, recap!
The Mariners offense got off to a quick start, taking advantage of some poor command early from Pirates starter Joe Musgrove, as well as some errors behind him (remember when it was always the Mariners making errors? Like all the time, always? I’m so glad that particular phase of the season is over). Other than a Tim Lopes double, nothing was hit particularly hard in the inning, but the Mariners headed into the bottom of the second with a 4-0 lead.
Why don’t pirates like writing in script?
Because it’s s’curvy
Unfortunately, that lead would almost immediately evaporate. Yusei Kikuchi got the start for the Mariners and I regret to inform you that things again did not go great. The command was all over; only 42 of the 67 pitches he threw were for strikes, and he struck out just one batter in his four innings.
An example of the location struggles in action:
Where Narváez called for that ball on the Elmore double vs. where it ended up. Some location misses for Kikuchi in this inning. pic.twitter.com/3YkvxxDAUi— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) September 19, 2019
At one point Kikuchi surrendered three straight doubles, although one was on a ball down the line that Kyle Seager might have handled, except the role of Kyle Seager was being played by Austin Nola at the time. When Kikuchi missed and caught too much of the plate, the balls were punished, and the damage probably could have been worse were it not the lowly Pirates:
Growth isn’t linear, but it’s frustrating to see Kikuchi’s inconsistency isn’t limited to balls and strikes. One week it seems like he’s progressing in the right direction, and the next it looks like he’s taking a step back. It’s hard to feel encouraged about his season, which is a real bummer, and puts a lot of pressure on the off-season work.
That’s depressing to think about. Let’s have another joke!
A pirate boards the ship wearing a hat made of paper towels.
“What happened to your hat?” asks the captain.
“Yarrr, there be a bounty on my head!”
Pittsburgh small-balled across another run in the fifth off Zac Grotz and it looked like that would be it on the day. Sweeps on the road are hard. But while the Mariners have been on an upswing lately, the Pirates are trending in the opposite direction. The Mariners tied the game in the seventh when, after making two quick outs, Francisco Liriano’s body was briefly inhabited by a colonial magistrate who had never seen a baseball before and he walked Kyle Lewis and Omar Narvaez and fell behind Austin Nola 2-0 on ten straight pitches. Nola was able to take advantage, shooting an RBI single through the right side of the infield, and the game was tiesville again.
What do you get when you cross a pirate and a zucchini?
A squash buckler!
The game would remain tied until the 11th, when the Mariners mercifully went ahead one last time, small-balling across a run of their own on an Austin Nola RBI GIDP, which is something you don’t see every day.
A kid dressed as a pirate knocked on the door on Halloween. “Trick-or-treat!”
The man who answered the door looked at the kid standing alone on the stoop. “Is it just you? Where are your buccaneers?”
“Under my buccin’ hat,” said the kid.
Eric Swanson came in and closed the door, striking out the side to secure the sweep. Dipoto said the other day at the Town Hall that Swanson will be in the bullpen from here on out, and they’re encouraging him to just air out the fastball. Swanson’s fastball sat 94-95 in the inning, and he threw it almost exclusively, until the very last batter of the game. In an eleven-pitch battle with Kevin Newman (NEWMAN!), with two outs and in an 0-2 count, Swanson tried a couple sliders and even a changeup as Newman worked the count full before eventually reverting to the fastball. It was high and out of the zone but Newman was ruled to have swung, and so closed the most anticlimactic road sweep ever.
A pirate with a wooden leg, hook, and eyepatch walks into a bar. After he gets him a drink, the bartender works up the courage to ask the pirate about how he lost his leg.
“Twas a battle at sea, matey. I was struck by a cannonball trying to defend me ship. Crushed me leg into smithereens and the ship doctor had to cut it off.”
“I’m sorry,” said the bartender. “And...the hook?”
The pirate put his glass down with his good hand and gestured for another rum. “Me treasure chest fell overboard. I got it back, but not before a shark got a bite out of me. Tore me hand clean off.”
“Oh that’s terrible,” said the bartender, pouring an extra-large rum. “And your eye?”
“I got some dirt in it while swabbing the decks.”
“Just some dirt?” asked the bartender, setting down the rum. “And that cost you your eye?
“Well,” shrugged the pirate, “it was me first day with the hook.”
The Mariners and Pirates are now tied for the sixth draft position, and with the M’s headed to the pit of despair that is Camden Yards and the Pirates off to face the Brewers and Cubs, they’ll likely fall more towards the back half of the top ten, which feels like a poor reward for enduring so much losing over the season. We should be able to have a bright and shiny draft pick, dangit. But it’s hard not to be happy for the players themselves, especially considering strong performances from players who will be back next year and beyond. The Mariners ran out five hitters today who are hitting .275 or better, and Shed Long had yet another multi-hit game. The person who had the best game, though, might have been Dan Altavilla, who finally got into a game in his hometown ballpark in front of his friends and family, and worked a 1-2-3 inning with two Ks and reached 98 on his fastball.
the happy hop when you pitch a scoreless inning with two Ks and hit 98 in front of your hometown friends and family ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/SwVexZWI5P— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) September 19, 2019
To be honest, after hearing Dipoto talk about the vision of next year’s Mariners team, finishing this season strong is more appealing than a high draft pick. Seeing the energy the new guys—Sheffield and Lewis, among others—has infused into the team makes it exciting to think about what it will be like when the Evan Whites and Logan Gilberts, and the Jarred Kelenics and Julio Rodriguezes, get called up. The future is here now, and it’s pretty fun.