If you enjoy sharp baseball at a crisp pace, today’s three-and-a-half hour slopfest might not be the game for you. I’m just warning you. Do you consider yourself warned? Then let us proceed.
No way to sugarcoat it: this was a tough day for Justin Dunn, who only went two innings, and maybe his worst outing since his debut, command-wise (there was the two-inning start against the Dodgers but at least he kept the walks to a minimum and also, the Dodgers). By now, I am used to gritting my teeth through the first couple innings of a Dunn start, as Dunn tends to struggle early with location before settling in and righting the ship.
Walks in the 1st inning have been a big issue for Dunn. Of the 22 he has walked this year, 11 have come in the 1st. Of the 17 runs he has given up, 11 have come in the 1st or 2nd inning.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) September 13, 2020
Today, though, it became evident early that Dunn was fighting more than the normal first-inning scaries. He didn’t have his fastball command, he wasn’t consistently hitting his spots, and his mechanics looked off, with his front shoulder flying open more than usual. About the only thing Dunn had working was his curveball, and he leaned on it hard, somehow extricating himself from a 40-pitch second inning in which he walked three batters with no damage. On the bright side, Dunn did have five strikeouts to go along with his five walks in two innings, but on the not-bright side, five walks! Perhaps Dunn is still learning how to get his pre-game routine perfected at the MLB level and that’s why those first innings continue to plague him, but it’s something that needs to be corrected. It’s also particularly troubling because the Mariners have a doubleheader tomorrow when they’ll probably need dip into the bullpen heavily, although they will be able to bring up an extra player for the games.
Meanwhile, Luke Weaver, who also struggled early, did settle down after giving up a pair of runs, one in each of the first two innings. One came on a routine Donovan Walton RBI groundout but the other was on this very satisfying Marmo-double:
The Mariners had another opportunity to get to Weaver in the fifth when Walton singled and Ty France, Who Is Bacon, doubled (103 EV), but the threat died and Weaver escaped unscathed, not that he seemed particularly pleased with his performance on the day:
The Mariners extended their lead in the sixth at the hands of lefty Travis Bergen, who also apparently sipped from the No Command water cooler pre-game. Bergen had two on via the walk when Donovan Walton was the lucky recipient of this hanging breaker at the top of the zone and did what one should do with such a pitch:
That’s the first double of Donnie Baseball’s career! And it gave the Mariners a 4-1 lead. Hooray for him.
In the sixth, it was Anthony Misiewicz time because it’s a day that ends in -y. Misiewicz had a smooth inning in the sixth, but ran into trouble in the seventh, starting off by giving up a weak single to Pavin Smith, then having his normally stellar command desert him and walking Josh Rojas (?) before surrendering another single to VanMeter to load the bases with no outs. Fireman Graveman came in to tidy up the mess, trading two outs for two runs, which is about what you expect for that kind of situation. Despite pitching yesterday Graveman touched triple digits in his inning, and also recorded a strikeout to end the inning. Most importantly, he didn’t walk anyone, and for that, we thank him.
However, the Mariners offense, as they did last night, picked up their pitcher after a run-scoring inning, which is a development I hope sticks with them after they leave town against the hapless D-Backs. Jose Marmolejos singled off Junior Guerra and then Evan White—who had an unquestionably bad day at the plate otherwise, striking out four times and looking lost—pounced on a 96 mph fastball and sent it right back up the middle. White was late on the fastball today and chasing after breakers, leading to his platinum sombrero, but in this case at least he managed to catch up to the fastball. Just pick one thing to work on, Ev, please. That set up Phillip Ervin, the unlikely hero of this game, to come up with a clutch double, when he cranked 95 into the left-field corner.
I will be happy to have in-person attendance at games again, surely, but I will miss getting to hear players cheering each other on, like the sharp “YEAH!” that punctuates this hit. White would later cruise home on a wild pitch to push the Mariners’ lead out to 6-3.
Three runs is the threshold for Releasing the Yohan, who led off the eighth with a walk, because if there is a Lake No Command, Yohan is cannonballing right into it. To his credit, he did clean up after himself with two soft-contact flyouts and this nasty bit of business against poor Daulton Varsho:
Some men fall in Lake No Command and don’t get wet, what can you say.
The Mariners tacked on another run in the ninth against Keury Mella, who allowed a single to Dylan BamBam Moore, salvaging his six-game hit streak for another day. Moore than stole second and made it to third before being sacrificed home by Kyle Lewis, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Marmolejos back in the eighth. I do not like using Kyle Lewis as a pinch runner because precious cargo and I want to go slap a Baby On Board window cling on him, but I am happy KLew got a chance to swing the bat and maybe get a little feel back after a pretty dismal performance yesterday, It’s worth pointing out his sac fly, while hit right at an outfielder, had the hardest exit velo of the day, at 109.4 mph.
Yoshihisa Hirano came on to close the door against his former team and went 1-2-3 to finish things out, although not without this little bit of razzle-dazzle from Phillip Ervin:
Even ugly wins are wins. Tomorrow the Mariners face a much tougher opponent in the Oakland Athletics, who will be Matt Chapman-less (Matt-less chaps?) but still mighty. And it’s a double header too, joy.
- Walks counter: 14 total. 14! I warned you it was ugly. Today was not so much “dominating the zone” as “creepily peering through the bushes at the zone.”
- Casey Sadler pitched two perfectly cromulent innings in relief of Dunn and didn’t walk anyone. He earned the win and for that I am glad, as he Deserved It.
- Joey Gerber also pitched an inning and also walked a batter, but struck out Walker looking and was the beneficiary of a 3-4-3 double play to get him out of the inning.
- Apparently Hector Rondon is a Diamondback now? This destroys the mnemonic device I created to remember what teams Hector Rondon and Carlos Rodon, two names I confuse all the time, each played for (the H stood for Houston). I suppose I will have to remember it now as Harizona.
- Ty France also had a walk today in addition to his double. His OPS is .961. He is bacon.