As sympathetic as I am to the FUBAR for Kumar campaign - though the Pirates seem to be on another level of suckitude - I have to say I hate watching my team lose. This past week or so, fun game against the Dodgers on Wednesday notwithstanding, was pretty brutal to see, and no doubt brutal for the youngest team in baseball to go through. Couldn’t they just have one convincing win? For us? For them?
Turns out they can!
Nick Margevicius, coming off a surprising quality start against the Astros, was fire out of the gate, needing just a dozen pitches to get through the first frame while striking out leadoff man Nick Solak on a 70 MPH slow curve and getting Danny Santana to whiff on a middle-middle changeup. Lefty deception! He would coax a flyout from Todd Frazier to end the frame, and it was former first-rounder Kolby Allard’s turn to take the mound, and you know how it seems like every so often against AL West teams the Mariners give up a bundle of runs off of cheap hits, close walks, and maybe an error thrown in?
Tonight that script got flipped.
J.P. Crawford snapped an ugly 0-for-20 by lacing an 0-2 cutter into left field, and Sam Haggerty followed suit by notching his first Major League RBI and flashing his plus speed:
Though he would be officially credited with a double and an error, it was pretty impressive seeing Haggerty blaze into third on a ball hit into the left-field corner, and a wild pitch would bring him home just a minute or so later. After a Kyle Lewis walk and a Kyle Seager groundout, it was Austin Nola’s time to get the doily party going:
Tim Lopes followed with a soft liner to center, proving once again that you cannot stop him, and following a Dee Gordon strikeout, Braden Bishop decided “hey this is a perfect time for my first big league extra base hit”:
Joe Odom worked a six-pitch walk, and Allard’s bell had rung, and he was decidedly Not Happy about it.
Wes Benjamin would come on and strike out Crawford, but no biggie! Large Marge once again just needed twelve pitches to breeze through the second, striking out Joey Gallo and José Trevino and retiring Rougned Odor on an easy fly to right. After a Haggerty pop fly, Kyle Lewis once again proved that this is his world, and we’re just living in it.
Suffice to say that this is how I felt watching that.
Love this Hit ! The best hit !— Disco Comments (@DiscoComments) August 22, 2020
Lewis would go on to work a second walk tonight, and came into the game with a Z-Swing% minus O-Swing% of around 42% - in other words, a batting eye bordering on Joey Votto territory. The strikeout rate is under 25%, the walks are just a hair under 14%, he’s running a 175 wRC+, and is tied for the sixth-best position player in all of baseball by fWAR. Yeah, that’ll play. If nothing else, 2020 has revealed that Lewis has all the makings of a bona fide star, he is ours, and you cannot have him.
Margevicius cruised through the third and fourth innings, dotting the corners beautifully with his high-80s fastball and flopping in that s-l-o-o-o-o-w curve enough to keep Texas’s hitters honest, and Bishop lent him another hand with an RBI groundout in the third to bring home a sixth run. Unfortunately, they got to him a bit in the fifth, as Trevino led off the frame by sneaking a double just down the left-field line on a low curve. Although Marge was able to coax a flyout from Odor and a groundout from Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rod Refsnyder worked an easy walk off of him, and Scott Heineman annoyingly got enough of an outside 0-2 fastball to grab a two-run double.
more like heiny-man am i right
Margevicius avoided further damage by getting Solak on a fly ball to left on a 67 (!) MPH curve, but opened the sixth inning by letting a 1-1 fastball juuuust a bit too much on the plate for Santana to pounce on it.
At this point, the Rangers’ bats had fully caught on to Marge’s game plan, with both Gallo and Trevino reaching on hits, though Gallo laid maybe the worst bunt I have ever seen for a base hit:
After Trevino’s knock had runners on the first and third, Margevicius’s night was done. Although his box score line isn’t the prettiest, his fastball command was impeccable all evening, and while eight swinging strikes out of 82 pitches isn’t spectacular, he got his fair share of groundouts and weak contact. It’s easy to see a soft-tossing lefty and jump to a Wade LeBlanc, Tommy Milone, or Andrew Albers comp, but Nick Margevicius is just 24 years old, coming off of some mishandling by the Padres. He’s worth keeping on eye on the rest of the year.
Joey Gerber allowed a sac fly to Odor to make it 6-4, but other than that, the bullpen was flawless, and the bats tacked on a seventh and final run thanks to Tim Lopes reaching on an error that Evan White would have doubtlessly handled.
Matt Magill worked a scoreless frame, helping rebuild his trade value after this meltdown earlier this week, and Dan Altavilla must have harnessed whatever black magic is in his beard, because he struck out the side in the eighth while looking absolutely dominant. It blows my mind to think that he is the second-longest tenured Mariner and has the most big league experience in Seattle’s bullpen behind Magill. Taylor Williams notched his fifth save with a perfect ninth, and showed some guts by dumpstering Odor on a 3-2 slider for the second out.
Wins like these are good for the soul. In a shortened season where every game matters 2.7 times as much as one in a regular year, they should be cherished extra hard. Tomorrow we have Justus Sheffield going against Jordan Lyles, who the M’s managed to snatch a quartet of runs from the last time they faced him. Maybe this young, awkward baseball team can grab a series win. Maybe, just maybe, FUBAR for Kumar can wait for another day.