For five and a third innings, I was more invested in the outcome of a Mariners game than I had been in months. One thing about losing so many games is after a while, you just lose the ability to feel much between the losses. They’re all just beads you slide down a particularly glum abacus, marking off time until the 2020 draft, when hopefully all the losing means something. It takes something extreme to move the dial; a 21-1 loss and near-perfect game, also at the hands of these Astros, as it felt like so many of the outsize losses were this year, a reminder of the distance left to travel; a reminder, too, of how long the path was the Astros walked back to contention (it was as recent as 2015 they were picking Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker with the second and fifth overall picks, under rules that don’t even exist in MLB anymore), and how the Mariners are attempting to make a similar kind of turnaround in a fraction of the time, and pass me those wax wings, will you? They seem plenty seaworthy.
But tonight the immediate concern, the only thing rousing me to follow this late-season loss closely, was making sure the Mariners didn’t get #$%&*ing perfecto’d on the night before the final start of the franchise icon who happens to hold the last perfect game in MLB. Every batter was agony; I said unkind things to Tom Murphy that I now regret, after he struck out on three pitches in the sixth. It was down to the point of counting out, the red banner we’d seen so many times plastered across the MLB dot com homepage, when Dee Gordon stepped to the plate. Please Dee, I begged, take a page out of Jarrod Dyson’s book and bunt to break up this bad boy.
Dee does things his own way, though, and worked a walk (!). DEE. Things have not been the smoothest course in Seattle, but for this alone, build him a damn statue.
Austin Nola, further cementing his place as one of my favorite Mariners of 2019, broke up the no-hitter in the 9th, and then Tim Lopes (also a fun 2019 story!) added a hit of his own to make sure the perfecto/no-no ghost was good and dead.
I honestly like Zack Greinke—he’s a weirdo in a game that could use more of them—and on any other occasion, playing for any other combination of teams, I would have been rooting for him.
That was all the offense would be able to do on the evening, because they were playing the Astros, and the Mariners have approached the Astros this season with fear and trembling. Still: not no-no’d on Félix Eve, and not no-hit and subject to a particularly unpleasant record, becoming the first team to ever be no-hit three times in a season.
Also if you’re looking for bright spots, after giving up two runs in the first on a couple of pitches not even on the plate, Yusei Kikuchi had one of his best starts of the season against one of baseball’s toughest lineups, going six strong innings and striking out four while walking none. Newcomer Art Warren also had his best MLB inning to date, needing just seven pitches (six strikes), setting down Jake Marisnick on three pitches before disposing of George Springer and Jose Altuve on two easy groundouts.
The Mariners are done with the Astros for the season. The Astros will go on to the playoffs, seeking a second World Championship, and the Mariners will go back to the drawing board, to keep working on their wings.