Some days, the Mariners play a game I know I’ll want to see again. Those evenings have been few and far between over the past year and a half, but in the ever-grey afternoons of mid-January, I know tonight’s will be a game I cue up. Our hat closet at LL is such that we should be experts in our hometown
nine 26, capable, at times critical analysts, but also genuine fans. Today on the site we began with a grim subject, analyzing the miserable travails of Evan White at the plate in this young season, and there were things worthy of critique in this game, but we finish the night in an effervescent glow of past, present, and future glory.
30-40 years ago, Justin Dunn’s line would have been enigmatic, but would have left us without tools for appraisal for those who didn’t watch every pitch. 6.0 innings, two earned runs, not ace stuff but more than capable, surely. Instead, to offer a brief rainstorm before the parade, this was not nearly as good of a night as some numbers show for Dunn. He threw barely 50% strikes, walking more (3) than he chaired (2) and sitting 88-90 by the final couple innings with his fastball. Strikeouts aren’t everything, but paired with subpar command, dipping velocity, and a still-suspect changeup, Dunn was duller than his basic line might indicate. And yet, to his credit, energy sapping and working his longest outing in nearly a calendar year, he missed barrels and didn’t snowball into the disastrous innings that have waylaid his prior starts. Is that the joy of facing the Rangers’ starless order instead of the Angels’ top-heavy lineup? Perhaps, but every pitcher gets to face mediocre teams sometimes, and it all counts.
Offensively, on a day that reached upwards of 99 degrees Fahrenheit in Arlington, things were anything but icy for the M’s, though things didn’t get rolling in earnest until midway through the peculiar 8:05 PM local time start. Dylan “Putting the UTIL in Mutilator” Moore had his most mortal hit of the day to start the scoring and drive in Daniel Vogelbach, whose double was of the “no we didn’t shift someone there” grounder variety. It was a worthy single, and vengeance for his first plate appearance of the day, which ended in a bat flip of ominous portent for Rangers starter Kyle Gibson.
While Texas took a 2-1 lead in the 3rd, their efforts to jumpstart a moribund offense with the first opening of Globe Life Field’s new retractable roof ended there, yet it worked all too well for their guests. In the top of the fifth, with Moore on first and J.P. Crawford (2-for-4 with a walk on the night) on second, Kyle Lewis took the hint.
As Mike Blowers would say on the broadcast, over the sound of the Rangers fake crowd noise/what sounded like an eight lane freeway paved right behind the left field fence all game, this wasn’t a bad pitch. Lewis lined a single earlier on a running heater in on his hands, so it made sense Gibson would transition to his solid slider. While the pitch does miss its location, it’s still a borderline strike, hardly a meatball, coming ahead in the count.
The new Kyle in town certainly made an impression off Texas’ imposter Kyle, and was 3-for-5 on the night with a walk to boot, but Seattle’s most iconic Kyle was the man of the hour in the town he’s bolstered his career so many times over, and tonight Kyle Seager was kind enough to meet The Narrative in the middle. After Dylan Moore dashed another RBI single up the middle in the 6th to make it 5-2, Seager turned it into a laugher with the first grand salami globe trot of Globe Life Field’s existence.
I’m hardly a soothsayer for any player’s state of mind, but it’s quite something to see Seager excel this season, as he creeps towards age 33, looking spryer than ever and bouncing around Arlington’s new digs with a roster full of youngsters that’s headed nowhere fast but maybe, just maybe, somewhere slow. Players with far more and far less at stake have opted out or risked continuing to play, and here Seager remains, in his 10th season in MLB, putting up numbers that, combined with an injury-shortened 2019, are in line with his prime. One day, Kyle Seager will be on the ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and like several influential but under-qualified Mariners, he won’t make it. But he’ll stack up as well as almost any player in history to log over a decade in the bigs. I hope when Kyle the Elder finally does hang it up, in lieu of a Jeter-esque year-long tour of prostration, the Rangers retire Seager’s jersey and then light it on fire. They’ll have every right to, as his ownership of their franchise has helped him build an exceptional career.
Lastly, because we’d be remiss to ignore it, Dylan Moore continued his absolutely torrid evisceration of the ball in the young season. His pulverization of a Jesse Chavez fastball touched uncharted land, going 435 feet to dead center as the first ball to knock off the center wall beyond the 407 sign in GLF history.
Jake wrote about Moore last week, in an effort to uncover the slight adjustments the MUTILator has made to boost his contact without sacrificing impact. We’ve seen Taylor Motters come and go, less than a month into the year is hardly a time to start clearing the decks for a freshly 28 year old utility man who drew his first walk(s) of the year tonight. But Moore is looking at least a bit more like one of the pieces a great team should have; the skeleton key who can fit every lock, handle every position, hit enough to put fear into pitchers, run enough to worry catchers, and make opponents furious that he’s the guy that beat them every once in a while.
The Mariners are that guy as a team this year, in many ways. A 10-2 win does wonders for Seattle’s heretofore grisly run differential, but even as a single victory, it’s a reminder of what this year can contain. Moments for analysis. Issues to critique. Sparks of hope. Embers to remember and reach back for in the dark days, to remind us that spring is always around the corner, sooner or later.