I don’t remember how old I was when I figured this trick out, but at some point, at every class birthday party when the cake was being cut, as my classmates clamored for a corner piece with roses and frosting, I would sidle up to the person cutting the cake and whisper, tragic as a Victorian heroine, “I’ll take what-ev-er piece, I don’t mind.” Thus would the fattest, rosiest, frostiest piece of cake be deposited before me, my cartoon-character-printed plate trembling beneath its weight, and off I would slink to enjoy my spoils.
It’s a habit I’ve carried over into Mariners fandom. Just don’t let us get perfecto’d, I beg the baseball gods, just don’t let us get no-hit. And usually they can scrape across a run or two, and sometimes it’s enough to win the game, even; and sometimes it’s an explosion of runs, a piece of cake thick as a brick, dripping icing.
Tonight, though, tonight I would be taken at my word. The Mariners didn’t get perfecto’d, and they didn’t get no-hit, but they didn’t do much of anything else, either. Things started off encouragingly enough; Nick Margevicius, slotting into the rotation for an injured Kendall Graveman, was more than adequate for just over four innings, mixing his low-90s fastball with a good curve and an inconsistent slider, moving his pitches all over the zone and throwing strikes: 41 of his 61 pitches, in fact. Marge was good at keeping the ball in the ballpark, as well, although he got a little help in the first from Kyle Lewis:
Marge was also able to collect three strikeouts in his 3.1 innings of work, one swinging on a high fastball slotted in nicely at the top of the zone, one on a called fastball painted perfectly on the edge of the zone, and one on his curveball:
Marge would leave in the fourth after hitting his pitch limit, and Anthony Misiewicz locked things down behind him but gave up a leadoff double in his next inning of work. He was replaced by Joey Gerber, whose funky delivery did not fool the Rockies at all, as they smoked a bunch of balls of of him:
And just like that it was 4-0. Taylor Guilbeau would allow another run in, giving the Rockies more than what they needed for a victory.
Because, see, on the other hand, as solid as Margevicius was, Rockies rookie Ryan Castellani was even better. Marge has a nice hook, classic, Zito-style, as John Trupin describes it. Castellani has a hell-hook:
Ryan Castellani, Dirty 82mph Curveball. pic.twitter.com/ez6eKXGhHP— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 9, 2020
Castellani’s favorite pitcher is Max Scherzer, and he Scherzer’d the Mariners over his four innings, while a trio of Rockies relievers cleaned up behind him. The Rockies carried a combined no-hitter into the sixth, almost the seventh, but at the last minute J.P. Crawford remembered that he was, in fact, J.P. Crawford:
It would be the only offensive damage done by the Mariners all evening, excepting in the fifth, when Castellani led off the inning by hitting Kyle Seager and issuing a walk to Daniel Vogelbach, putting two on for Evan White to quickly wipe out with a double play. Augh, Evan! But also: no strikeouts for Evan tonight, so progress? Also EW was responsible for the lone real Mariners highlight of the night:
Look, maybe you think Evan White’s defense is the smallest piece of cake, all that is asked for and deserved. That’s fair. I prefer to think of it as a swipe of frosting stolen, hastily covered up with a plastic party knife, a small promise of sweetness to come. One highlight reel play holding down the fort for more to come. Let’s hope, and when hope isn’t enough, do something about it.
Shed Long Jr. doing what Dee Gordon did postgame a few years ago. pic.twitter.com/JPZQ1hM9Xf— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) August 9, 2020
Tonight Shed had two of the seven balls in the game hit over 100 mph EV—101.9 and 105.7 mph, with nothing to show for either. Sometimes you ask nicely and wait for the universe to hand you your cake, and sometimes you do what it takes to grab it.