After last night’s marathon game, today’s was a palate-cleansing two-hour, eleven minute affair that ended in the Orioles edging the Mariners by a run. The decisive blow was a Chris Davis home run, which wasn’t good for the Mariners but was good news for Chris Davis, who you can’t help but root for after the misery he was mired in earlier this season.
In what some are speculating could be his final game at Camden Yards, Chris Davis just hit a go-ahead, left-on-left seventh-inning homer.— Joe Trezza (@JoeTrezz) September 22, 2019
He got a standing ovation.
Orioles, 2. Mariners, 1.
Chris Davis compared today’s home run to his last one at Camden Yards in 2015, when he was heading into the uncertainty of free agency. He said he made sure to take a look around the ballpark and savor it today. #Orioles— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) September 22, 2019
It was also the last home game for the Orioles this season, with an announced attendance of 17,540 that was maybe actually a third of that, and for the doughty fans in orange who forewent football Sunday and showed up to the ballpark, it’s nice that they got to come away with a win. (An underrated aspect of a losing season is the opportunity it affords to be spiritually generous.)
It should feel worse, I think, to have dropped a series to the second-worst team in baseball, and to only have won last night’s game by capitalizing on an error to scrape across the deciding run. But we are well past the point of looking at the outcome of games; instead, the real interest is in how the pieces Dipoto identified as part of the future of the team performed. So let’s set aside the loss and look at that instead.
Marco Gonzales: Marco is the only reason the Mariners were in this one considering the lackluster offensive showing. Again he pitched deep into a game, going seven innings and allowing two runs on only three hits. The zone was a little wonky today, so I wouldn’t cast too many aspersions on his two walks to just four strikeouts, nor the game-deciding home run he gave up to Chris Davis, which just snuck over the wall on a day when the ball was carrying. There’s been a lot of fuss made about Marco’s declining velocity and subsequent drop in strikeouts, but framed another way, this season Marco has really gotten his lefty Mike Leake on as he’s evolved into a pitch-to-contact, damage-limiting, innings-eater. It’s not flashy but it sets Marco up to eventually be a steadying force at the back end of the rotation as the more volatile young pitchers—Kikuchi, Sheffield, Dunn, and eventually Gilbert—find their MLB footing.
Art Warren: Marco’s strong outing again meant a light day for the bullpen, which was probably for the best considering last night’s marathon, but with so many guys out there champing at the bit to get into games, you know they probably groan a little inwardly when it’s his day on the bump. Art Warren got the lone bullpen inning of the day and would have set the Orioles down 1-2-3 if not for an uncharacteristic Kyle Seager error (his second on the day! Poor Kyle needs a nap).
Offensively, the Mariners were haunted by the RISP ghost of 2017, going just 1-for-8 on the day and leaving five runners on base. But there were some bright spots! And some not so bright spots. But also some bright spots!
Shed Long: After seeing his hitting streak snapped yesterday, Shed picked right up where he left off, leading off the game with a triple, his first at the major-league level.
That didn't take... long.— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) September 22, 2019
Shed Long comes through with a triple in the first inning and that means you'll get a FREE order of Mexi-Fries at @TacoTimeNW tomorrow. Just download their app to get yours. https://t.co/z2eGTe78rM pic.twitter.com/YlPw1PPpx1
Shed just misses a home run here—you can hear on the audio feed that at least one person sitting near a field mic thought that was gone—but at least now he has a triple under his belt. That wouldn’t be his only extra-base hit on the day, either, as he doubled in the fifth and continues to post an ISO (200) higher than his listed weight (184). Physicists, explain this! Since rejoining the team Shed has hit in 11 of the 16 games he’s played in, with seven multi-hit games. We saw flashes of the potential in his bat over the spring, indicating why the Mariners were so keen to get him even without a specific position. (Second base. His position is second base. I want to see Shed stapled to Perry Hill’s side this off-season.)
Tim Lopes: Lopes wasn’t mentioned by Dipoto in the Town Hall meeting as part of the future of the club, but it’s hard to discount what he’s done this year. I remember when Lopes was part of the Jackson Generals in 2016, Generals announcer Brandon Liebhaber said he saw Lopes as a future big-leaguer. Always listen to MiLB announcers, people. Lopes had another two hits today, including a single he used his speed to stretch into a double. The K% is still too high, but that’s never been a problem for Lopes over his minor league career, so hopefully that rate regresses closer to his career levels with more playing time. Lopes has also shown the best defensive range out of any of the superutilities—the Lopes/Moore/Nola trinity—and today he smoked them offensively as well. This is already shaping up to be an interesting spring training battle.
J.P. Crawford and Kyle Lewis each tallied hits as well, with J.P. driving in Shed after the triple. These are both good for separate reasons: for Lewis, it’s nice to see him be able to hit for contact as well as power—his hit was a well-placed grounder through the 5/6 hole—and for J.P., it’s good to see the bat perk up after slumping a little down the stretch. Even though Crawford has pieces of two MLB seasons under his belt prior to this one, he’s never had this kind of extended playing time at the MLB level. A strong finish to his season would offer some nice momentum headed into the off-season.
Tomorrow is an off-day and then it’s the final homestand of the season, and the final games of the season, and the final Félix Day of...probably ever. At times the season has felt interminable, but right now, like today’s light-actioned, lightning-paced game, it almost feels like it’s going too fast.