I sat on the back porch, nursing a glass of lemonade and listening to the sweet sweet music of Dave Sims talk about Justus Sheffield’s slider this evening.
I sat on the back porch for three hours and watched relatively meaningless baseball (insert midseason form joke here), as daylight turned to dusk turned to night, as 78 turned to 75 turned to 70 and as birds chirping turned to the faint murmur of crickets scraping their legs together over and over and over again.
I got to open my computer to a live ROOT broadcast of real life Seattle Mariners baseball this summer evening. Who would have thought that this would have been such an earth-shattering big deal this time last year? The world is not normal right now in any sense of the word, yet for a large chunk of this summer night it sure did feel like it.
Thank god it all came crashing down once I saw this graphic:
lol imagine seeing this graphic on a broadcast a year ago and trying to parse it pic.twitter.com/PvoU9mv7KZ— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) July 23, 2020
Anyways, on to what you guys came here for, a recap of tonights game between the Seattle Pilots donning powder blue unis and
Dee Gordon and The Tacoma Rainiers the Seattle Steelheads donning the light baby blue unis (they’re the same color, the joke is that both teams have the same jerseys.)
Justus Sheffield was cooking with gas from the moment he took the mound, striking out Dee Gordon swinging. While he would nearly place a ball square on Dylan Moore’s knees in the next at bat, Sheffield would recover and strike him out in four pitches with his signature slider. Top Sheff would decide to take a little longer with the next
victim batter and work Fraley up to a full count before striking out the side.
Justin Dunn watched Sheffield’s first inning and decided to blaze his own path to the tune of a first pitch homerun hit by none other than Shed Long to put the Pilots up 1-0. It wasn’t a terrible pitch from Dunn but Shed, who was clearly sitting fastball, reached out and redirected this ball over the left field fence:
Up next in the batters box, Evan White, whose bat has been getting hot lately, would just eke a ball fair down the third baseline for a double. Dunn would then take a page out of Sheffield’s book and strike out Kyle Seager up next on a full count with a nice breaking ball, before giving up a hard hit RBI single to none other than Summer Camp MVP Kyle Lewis.
Sheffield would keep the momentum going and strike out prospect wunderkid Jarred Kelenic on a failed check swing. Sheffield shows that he can also gets outs via the groundout against Donovan Walton but decides he likes striking people out more and quickly does away with Braden Bishop, who was a good sport about how dominating Sheff’s stuff was tonight:
In the next inning after getting Joe Hudson to fly out, Dunn would allow Daniel Vogelbach to ‘Twinkle Toes’ his way to second on a standup double. JP Crawford decided that looked fun and cranked a double the other way to bring Vogelbach’s twinkling toes all the way home. Dunn rebounded, though, striking out Mallex Smith and getting Shed Long to fly out to end the inning without further damage.
Justus Sheffield’s dominance would continue into the next inning, where he would again 1-2-3 the side, striking out Cal Raleigh in the process as well (although not before Cal Raleigh put a ball into the seats, just foul. That’s the second time Raleigh has done that in camp and when he starts straightening them out, watch out if you’re walking along Royal Brougham).
Cal Raleigh makes the best contact of the day so far off Sheffield, but hooks it just foul. Sheffield would come back to strike Cal out on a high fastball. pic.twitter.com/axikfvZhGN— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 23, 2020
Up next against Justin Dunn, Evan White would ground out although not before showing up his underrated speed and almost beating out a late throw by Donovan Walton. That led to destroyer of worlds and all around good baseball player Kyle Lewis, who would hit a nice breaking ball up the middle for a single, sitting down Justin Dunn after just one out and ending the inning. While the power is sexy, it’s nice to see Lewis also hit the occasional single and take walks like he’s been doing in camp, in between all the bombas.
By inning four, Sheffield is as dominant as ever with his, you guessed it, fourth consecutive 1-2-3 inning while striking out Fraley and Kelenic (again!) for 8 Ks in just 12 batters faced! (!!!). Sheff was so good tonight he got the MLB Pipeline treatment:
Justin Dunn would take a different path for his fourth trip to the mound, walking Marmo, allowing a blooper to Joe Hudson and narrowly losing a hard fought battle to Daniel Vogelbach to load the bases. At this point, the coaches had seen enough and opted to end the inning there as well as end Dunn’s night. Per Ryan Divish, Dunn, like Sheffield, has been working on a two-seamer and was experimenting with throwing it in his outing, which could explain some of his less-than-ideal results.
In inning five, Nick Margevicius would come in for Justus and immediately dash the hopes of a combined no hitter with a leadoff hit to Donnie Walton. An uncharacteristically bad throw by Kyle Seager would allow Braden Bishop to reach base on the next AB before the inning would end with a Braden Bishop pickle, and line outs by Dee Gordon and Cal Raleigh.
For the Steelheads, Nestor Cortes would replace Justin Dunn and allow similiar results to the tune of a Mallex Smith single and Evan White double that would have easily scored Mallex Smith if it didn’t jump into the seats, a signal of how hard Evan White has been scorching the ball. Kyle Seager then fell prey to Cortes’s lefty-on-lefty multiple-arm-angle dark arts though, and grounded out harmlessly to strand both runners.
Up next in inning number six, Brandon Brennan would replace Marge and promptly load the bases with a walk to Dylan Moore and singles to Jake Fraley and Jarred Kelenic (his lone hit on a 1-4 night with 3 Ks). A hard hit ball by Donovan Walton would score Moore and keep the bases loaded before the coaches called the inning short. It was an uncharacteristically off outing for BB, who has been slinging his changeup at his teammates with great success, and hopefully just a weird blip on the radar.
Zac Grotz would get his turn on the bump next for the Steelheads and make quick work of the side, showing some hope for the bullpen in this match with a quick 1-2-3 outing. We haven’t seen much of Grotz this camp, but he’s a steady arm and a dark horse candidate to make the 30-man.
In the seventh Carl Edwards Jr. would replace Brennan and would turn in the second straight 1-2-3 inning, but not without a big help from Shed Long and his glove:
Shed Long showing some range and excellent body control with this barehand play: pic.twitter.com/MLTRJQIzB1— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 23, 2020
Shed’s fielding has looked sharp during summer camp, and a plus glove would be a great addition to a player with an already strong bat.
Erik Swanson would be up next for the Steelheads and despite allowing a blooper to Daniel Vogelbach (his second double of a strong 3-3 night) would have a strong inning, sitting down Noelvi Marte, Mallex Smith and Shed Long in order. He struck out Marte on three pitches (one seemed like a pretty generous high strike call), showing no mercy to the 18-year-old.
In the eighth and final inning, Anthony Misiewicz would come in for Carl Edwards Jr and make quick work of Dylan Moore and Jake Fraley before an intense battle with Jarred Kelenic that would ultimatley end in a Kelenic strikeout, ending his night and possibly his time in an M’s uniform for the next while as well. While I for one would be excited to see what he could do with an extended stay with the club, an already cramped outfield with other young prospects looking to make their mark can help justify keeping Kelenic down a level little longer, and watching how much growing young Jarred has to do against MLB-level pitchers like Sheffield (and even AAA-level pitchers like Misiewicz) is a reminder that nothing good comes out of rushing prospects.
Swanson would remain in against the Pilots in the final frame of tonight’s game. After striking out Tim Lopes he would give up a hard hit single to Austin Shenton and a two-run bomb by Brian O’Keefe to put the pilots up 5-2. O’Keefe’s hit was the more impressive on paper, but let’s give it up for 2019 draftee Shenton getting his first hit of summer camp off an MLB-experienced reliever:
Austin Shenton finishing off his big-league camp on a strong note with this well-struck single off Swanson: pic.twitter.com/VE0UhO2rmE— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 23, 2020
Swanson would keep it together and strikeout Marmolejos to end the game and end intrasquad matchups for the foreseeable future as well. We hope. Summer Camp has been fun, but trust me when I’m excited to say I’m excited for it to be over. It’s time to get ready for Opening Night in Houston against the Astros.
Go Mariners and Go Baseball. Hang in there folks, we’re almost there.