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Mariners hedge their bets, careen into bushes

Seattle follows a surreal, nerve-wracking victory with a collective vote of no confidence.

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners - Game Two Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The Mariners put up two hits in seven innings of game two, for a total of zero runs, which has not won a baseball game in the entire sport’s history. That could be the story, and it’d be enough. They gave up nine runs on five walks, two strikeouts, and two home runs, scattered across Jimmy Yacabonis, Seth Frankoff, and Brady Lail, who formed a Cerberus of Chihuahuas, failing to intimidate or hold in check a vulnerable Oakland lineup in a game that has struggled all year, and was without three of its more threatening hitters by injury or rest. That too, is some of the story, and would not have been a shocking outcome at the day’s outset considering the state Sunday’s struggles left Seattle’s bullpen in.

In a different game, the story might have even been the highlight we’ll see again and again from this game, which will no doubt be its lasting memory, even if the seasonal significance or ultimate outcome fades. Kyle Lewis, fresh off a game one in which he drove his team to victory with his bat, keeping them in the hunt with his glove.

It’s a catch that deserves a team to champion it, a crowd to stand and ovate it, and a spotlight to ensure no unfortunate soul misses it. He went where Griffey went.

Where Cameron followed.

Where Guti soared.

It was glorious. It was stand up and shout exceptional. In fact I stood up and shouted. An out-and-out game defining play that, like Sunday and today’s first tilt, kept manageable that which could’ve been disastrous. Keeping it 1-0 after the first inning, galloping in with the ecstasy and exuberance of a rookie who knows exactly what he’s done, for a team that clearly sees its games as worthy of committing 100% effort to, no matter who the front office decides to fill the roster with.

In part, that is the story of this game. Inching within a game of the Astros for a playoff berth, Seattle had an opportunity to snag two from a reeling A’s club. Pressed about the opportunity between games, and who he would tap to start, Scott Servais cracked wise.

It was not Logan Gilbert. Much has been said about Gilbert as an option, and I believe him to be ready enough for a spot start at a minimum, as well as, more importantly, superior to all three pitchers who threw in this game. If there was a reason beyond economics behind a plan A of the trio of replacement level arms called upon today instead of Gilbert, none was given publicly. It was not Ljay Newsome either, who is slated to start tomorrow instead. Newsome left his last start early after taking a line drive off his hand, however he would’ve had five days rest, and unless the club expects him to be fully healthy tomorrow in a way he wasn’t today, the turn to their waiver wire long men was a bit peculiar.

That brings us to the unfortunate ultimate story of today’s games. The games were not important enough for the Mariners to consider an alternative to an ill-fated bullpen game, despite a clearly limited group of arms and at least one highly intriguing, competitive alternative. However, they were too important to be canceled or postponed despite an Air Quality Index ranging from 230 to 285 at the park, deep into the “very unhealthy” range and too treacherous for many entities to continue operating, including the famously health-conscious NFL, which draws the line at 200. Football is higher intensity than baseball in most instances, but the visuals were striking, combined with the sensation for any viewers in the Pacific Northwest of a growing ache in the throat and head, watering of the eyes, or worse by simply watching the team play.

Several Athletics players and staff were asked about the conditions between games, and though we did not hear much from Mariners players or coaches, the A’s didn’t mince words with their displeasure and disbelief that the games were being played.

Unfortunately, as we’ve seen this year already, MLB’s self-imposed schedule is immutable, and whether it takes Brodie Van Wagenen “accidentally” leaking it or not, the league’s priority No. 1 is pushing the regular season through as quickly as possible, without endangering the scheduling for the playoffs. It’s a grim assessment, particularly for a nightly recap, but those playoffs would be more appealing as a pot of gold if Seattle’s roster moves prioritized the surprising contention their player development has earned them ahead of schedule. Today could have been a playoff atmosphere, and while the atmosphere was the biggest problem, the club seems to be soft pedaling a roster that has spun competition and intrigue in spite of themselves. Today we saw the club both overcome and get overrun, and we probably should’ve seen nothing at all.