If there was ever a person who would be unbothered by the unusual circumstances of this season, utterly nonplussed by having to make a spot start after his teammate was traded, that man is Ljay Newsome. The man nicknamed “Silent Assassin” likely got word that he’d be making his first MLB start less than 24 hours before it was time to actually do so. The broadcast team speculated about the nerves that any pitcher would understandably have in their first career start. The fact that Fernando Tatís Jr. and Manny Machado were waiting for him in the first inning probably didn’t help either.
Newsome got Padres’ center fielder Trent Grisham, who was hitting .302/.351/.528 over his last 13 games, to start the game with a harmless pop up to the catcher. Then came his mom’s spaghetti moment. A 26th round pick who began last season in Single-A pitching to arguably the best player in the National League. Without electric stuff to fall back on or a deceptive delivery to befuddle hitters, Newsome has to rely on good ol’ fashioned moxy and want to. In his first showdown with Tatís, he sent the Padres’ show stopper back to the dugout on a simple fastball down the middle.
Here's Ljay Newsome, a 26th-rounder making his first career start, striking out Fernando Tatís, currently in the running for NL MVP: pic.twitter.com/TFBWktYEtK— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) August 27, 2020
Moments later, Seattle’s mild-mannered
fullback starting pitcher swindled Machado into a weak ground out to shortstop, escaping the first inning on just 13 low-stress pitches. Like Newsome against San Diego’s riptides at the top of the order, the Mariners’ offense also appeared ripe for misery in the first game of this twin billing. Dinelson Lamet, making his seventh start of the year, had yet to allow two or more earned runs in any of his previous outings. Armed with a Ferrari fastball and a swerving slider, Lamet has the type of stuff that makes even the most experienced hitters look foolish. In facing the youngest team in the entire league, Lamet and the Padres looked to have the upper hand in Game One. When the recently rejuvenated Evan White left the game with “shoulder discomfort”, José Marmolejos received an immediate chance to step up. Marmolejos was added to the active roster literally this morning, and pressed into duty shortly thereafter, which makes this opposite field homer off an ascendant pitcher even more hilarious.
Shed Long Jr. followed this up a few batters later with a much-needed RBI, tattooing a single through the hole with a 98.8 exit velocity. With Newsome kind of just Newsome-ing along, forcing hitter after hitter into frustrated shouts and bat slams, the Mariners took their 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth. A slip up against Machado resulted in a solo home run, but Newsome recovered to finish the fourth inning, and ultimately, his entire day. Seattle’s mute spittah finished with four strikeouts, no walks, and just three hits allowed, with Machado’s disposal of a belt-high pitch being the only blemish. More on that later.
As will be the case for all games in a doubleheader this year, Thursday’s tussle was just seven innings, meaning that Newsome’s four got the team 57 percent of the way home. Anthony Misiewicz, pitching for approximately the nine thousandth day in a row, came into get four outs and tossed the keys to Matt Magill to face some righties. Normal practice, of course. Standard managerial move. Except for instead of the two righties being some no-name prospect and their cousin, it was Tatís and Machado again. Unfortunately, Magill did not have the same luck that Newsome did in the first. Holding on to a 3-1 lead, Magill uncorked two delectable pitches in almost the exact same spot and watched the lead disappear into the SoCal sunshine.
Perhaps his performance today tells us that Matt Magill wants to stay in Seattle, which I think is admirable. Moving sucks. No matter his motive, Magill let the Padres tie things up heading into the seventh and final inning. Also, the big fly that Tatís launched to bring his team within one run actually landed on top of a building.
As bad as the Mariners bullpen was (and it gets worse), the Padres defense tried their darnedest to be even super extra worse. Having already made one error earlier in the game, San Diego learned nothing from their mistake and continued stepping on the Mariners’ well-placed rakes.
Dee Gordon started the seventh with a bunt single that nobody wanted to field. Then reliever Craig Stammen plunked J.P. Crawford with a pitch, which I’ve always thought should count as an error on the pitcher. Then when both Gordon and Crawford attempted to steal, catcher Austin Hedges made a throwing error and both runners were safe. With a bunt single as the only ball put in play all inning, the Mariners suddenly had runners on second and third with no outs. For those who couldn’t watch the game live, here’s a nice look at the Padres’ defensive issues.
Sam Haggerty roped a line drive to score Gordon, stole second himself, then advanced to third when Kyle Lewis snuck an RBI single past Tatís. Another RBI single from a Kyle, this time Seager, put Seattle ahead by three, and Austin Nola tacked on a sac fly, pushing the score to 7-3. If you want to stop reading here, I’ll let you go about the rest of your day believing that the Mariners held on to this extremely holdable lead and finished things off with a regular, non-horrendous bottom of the seventh.
Taylor Williams, the local kid who’s been a pearl in Seattle’s stinky oyster bullpen, got the first two outs of the seventh without breaking a sweat. The nine hitter was the only thing standing between him and some socially distanced high fives with the boys. Rather than simply securing the final out, Williams did this:
· Hit by pitch
· Wild pitch
· Walk again
· 2-RBI single
· Passed ball
· Wild pitch again, this time scoring a run
· RBI single to tie the game
On both of the walks, Williams needed just one more strike to end the game. Only after the improbability of Eric Hosmer’s game-tying knock had settled in did Scott Servais finally relieve Williams, calling on Dan Altavilla to get one more out before the Padres could score again. Altavilla did no such thing.
Jake Cronenworth spanked a single to set up Wil Myers for what felt like the most predictable walk off home run of yours or my lifetime.
The Padres dented the plate seven times with two outs in the final inning to win the game. The Padres dented the plate seven times with two outs in the final inning to win the game. The Padres dented the plate seVEN TIMES WITH TWO OUTS IN THE FINAL INNING TO WIN THE GAME!
Oh yeah, and they have to play again basically right away. I hate it here.