There are only so many times you can say “today was a typical Mariners game”, and there are only so many ways you can say it. You can do it through fantastical allegory, deadpan Buzzfeed-style comparisons, or wry despondency. Some days, though, the Mariners just play like the Mariners, and the only thing you can say is: “well, yeah, Mariners.”
Today was one of those days the Mariners played like the Mariners. Here’s me saying “well, yeah, Mariners”: their limited offense came through cheap grounders and bloopers that happened to find purchase with runners on base. Their pitching was good, but not quite good enough. It was another game of watching overmatched players fail to live up to the standards of Major League Baseball. We’ve seen it (literally) a thousand times. We’ll probably see it (literally) a thousand more.
So, as always, we focus on the little things and hope that’s enough to get us through.
Barring something wild, the main focus of today was going to be on Justus Sheffield’s continued success. And coming off of two straight starts in which Justus was good-to-great, the young southpaw delivered a third.
Justus’ outing started just-okay. The 24-year-old struggled a bit with his command. He took 17 pitches to get through the first inning and allowed two line drive singles along the way. The second inning was a bit better. Justus would have had a clean 13-pitch inning, but a Dee Gordon error made him expend 21 total pitches and give up a run.
After that, though, Justus cruised. He pitched to contact, and though he only sat around 92 MPH for the rest of the game, he used his changeup to mostly keep the Astros off-balance. His day ended with a more-than-acceptable line: 6.0 IP, four strikeouts, one walk, one earned run, and 89 pitches. If not for Dee’s error, he probably would have been able to go out for the seventh inning.
As it stood, though, that honor was left to Dan Altavilla. The stocky ball of muscle has had a volatile year so far, but he came shockingly close to an immaculate inning. Altavilla pumped eight out of his first nine pitches into the zone for strikes. He touched 99 MPH at one point, showing a glimpse of the plus reliever we know he could be.
The Mariner hitters, meanwhile, were annihilated by Lance McCullers’ curveball for the better part of six innings. They managed to scrape two runs across in the third by virtue of pure BABIP luck.
First, Joe Odom drove in Evan White with a ground ball that was hit directly at Yuli Gurriel. Gurriel didn’t have to move for the ball at all, and yet was somehow unable to come up with it. Three batters later, Kyle Lewis hit a bloop single to center to drive in Odom.
I suppose you’ll need hits like that if you want to win baseball games, but that was just about all the Mariners were able to manage. Their other opportunities were missed, either by leaving runners on base (seven total on the day) or pissing them away (two runners caught stealing).
Joey Gerber continued where Altavilla left off, albeit without the pure horsepower and glamorous teeth. No offense to Joey Gerber’s teeth, which appear to be perfectly good. As good as Altavilla and Gerber were against the fearsome Astro lineup, the Astros’ relief core didn’t have much trouble matching them against the quad-A Mariners.
Andre Scrubb, Enoli Paredes, Blake Taylor, and Ryan Pressley allowed a single hit between them over 3.1 innings. I hadn’t heard of at least two of those players before this season. It’s always nice to add items to one’s vast resevoir of useless information, I suppose. Apologies to the Scrubbs family, but yes, I consider my knowledge of your son’s existence to be more-or-less useless.
The Mariners were eventually forced to put Erik Swanson into the game. Swanson appears to be extremely broken, and while I hope he’s able to fix himself at some point, that point wasn’t today. He gave up a walk-off dinger to Kyle Tucker and in doing so mercifully expedited the Mariners’ departure from Houston.
This was the Mariners’ fifth loss in a row, plummeting (surging?) them into third place in the Kumar Rocker sweepstakes, a mere 2.5 games ahead of (behind?) the 4-14 Pirates. They’ll next go to Los Angeles for a series against the Dodgers, where things only promise to get worse (better?) in their quest for improvement (deterioration?).