Sometimes, baseball is boring; I think even its most devoted fans can agree on that. If you expect each game out of 162, 60, whichever to be packed with thrills and heroics, you’re doing it wrong. As cliché as it is, the “dog days” of summer come for us all, and they haven’t stopped under abnormal circumstances - I mean, who really watched Bryan Shaw pitch tonight with rapt attention? Certainly not I, and hopefully not you.
“Boring” and “active sleep aid”, though, are pretty different, and tonight the M’s looked closer to the latter.
Mike Minor labored out of the gate, needing twenty-six pitches to strand the Kyles on first and second. The younger Kyle worked a free pass on five pitches, and while he failed to record a hit, his walk rate sits at a pretty 11.4%, and the strikeouts are south of 30%. That’ll play! Besides, Minor’s strand rate coming into tonight was way low. They’d get to him eventually.*
*they did not get to him eventually
Unfortunately, Marco Gonzales didn’t fare any better in the bottom of the frame. After worming a quick groundout from Shin-Soo Choo and giving up a base hit to new perpetual gnat Isiah Kiner-Falefa, he threw a beautiful changeup off the plate to Todd Frazier, Frazier weakly threw his bat at it, and...
Oh well, .890 xBA on that. Tip your cap. Marco would then plunk Joey Gallo after tussling with him for ten (!) pitches, setting the stage for Nick Solak. Alas, Gonzales had him on the ropes 0-2, but he reached out and ripped an outside curve right back up the middle:
That two-run single had just a .260 xBA - over six hundred points lower than the Frazier doily. Rats! To his credit, Marco retired Willie Calhoun and Rougned Odor on a combined three pitches, and then worked a clean second. It would prove fruitless, though, when Kiner-Falefa led off the third by sneaking a double just down the left-field line. Gallo was once again hit with a pitch, and the Rangers pulled a little déjà vu on us. Or Marco showed us his best Héctor Noesí impression. Honestly, whichever works for you.
Willie continued his quest to fill Kole’s shoes as the Resident Obnoxious Calhoun, sneaking a single back up the middle, and all of a sudden the Rangers were up four runs, with Solak knocking in three of them on two hits with a combined .340 xBA. You just hate to see it. Marco was able to grind out five complete innings, at least, and while his outing tonight was by no means good - I counted just three swinging strikes, two of which were to potted plant Jeff Mathis - he was aground ball with eyes away from allowing just two runs, which should have been enough given the events of the fifth.
With Minor out of the game early thanks to a stricter pitch count, Dee Gordon led off the inning by working a walk (yeah you read that right) from new pitcher Nick Goody, Tim Lopes brought him to third with a laser of a single, and J.P. Crawford got the M’s on the board two pitches later:
Though Dylan Moore hit a double play right into the shift, Kyle Lewis was able to take advantage of a poor throw from Elvis Andrus that Frazier couldn’t corral, with Lopes scampering home.
That was all for offense tonight. Seriously. Both bullpens slammed the door. The parade of Edison Vólquez (yes, that Edison Vólquez), Joely Rodríguez, Jonathan Hernández, and Rafael Montero limited the M’s to just one hit over the final 4.1 innings. There were, thankfully, some mildly intriguing outings from Seattle’s bullpen - Matt Magill continued his inexplicably dominant Mariners tenure by striking out the side in the sixth, Dan Altavilla pitched around an evergreen walk for a hitless frame, and Bryan Shaw provided the biggest shocker of the night.
Are you ready?
Bryan Shaw pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, in a medium-ish leverage spot, with two strikeouts. Oh, and this cutter to get Rougned Odor was vicious:
That’s really all there is to say, sorry to be flip. A standard, boring, sleepy 4-2 loss in mid-August? We’ve sat through dozens of these over the years. No way we can’t handle another one. Taijuan Walker will look to snatch the series win tomorrow against Jordan Lyles in a matchup of “formerly highly touted prospects who are have been around much longer than you previously thought”. I can only hope it’ll be more of a jasmine tea kind of game instead of a chamomile one.