Running a long distance can do weird things to your mind. It usually starts off alright. Full of anticipation, adrenaline, and energy, a runner at the beginning of a long run quickly settles into a groove. The body moves seamlessly and simultaneously with the beat of the music. Those who instead opt to listen to podcasts or audiobooks allow their minds to find traction in somebody’s story.
As the steps add up and there are still countless more in front of the runner, it can be hard not to feel a bit of trepidation. No matter how many times the runner has completed the run, the thought appears: Woof. This is a long one. The thought is brushed aside, and with slightly more concerted effort this time, the runner returns to their audio.
Miles go by, and thoughts run through the mind. Every thought is dismissed or entertained. Those that are entertained draw the runner through winding, scheming corridors until a more tantalizing tendril of thought takes hold. And so it continues.
Eventually, that one thought re-appears. This really is a long one. It’s summarily brushed aside, and other thoughts take hold. The cycle repeats several times, depending on the length of the run.
That was a bit how this game felt. For over four hours the Mariners battled the Padres. The different parts of the game had similar characters. Justin Dunn and Dinelson Lamet traded no-hit innings through four. The Mariners squeezed a run out, and Dunn immediately allowed a massive dinger to Wil Myers.
The bullpen innings, which saw equally little action take place, felt equal parts tense and monotonous. As all runs and all games do, though, it eventually ended.
Justin Dunn had... a weird game. The stat sheet (four walks in 5.2 innings) and the game’s narrative (Dunn took a no-hitter into the sixth) would suggest that Dunn had shaky command, but good stuff. You’d think that he had kept hitters off-balance all day, not allowing much in the way of hard contact. A reasonable guess, but you would be very wrong.
Dunn’s odd game began in the first inning looked like reason for some concern. All three Padres hitters made hard contact, with two stops by the trusty Dylan Moore stopping any potential hits. There was some promise there, though. Dunn’s fastball sat up around 92-93 MPH (he’s averaged 91 MPH on the year) and he seemed to be hitting his spots.
That continued into the second.
Dunn’s fastball wasn’t the only thing he had working for him. He was hitting his spots with all of his pitches, as seen here by this slider right on the corner of the zone to get out of the third.
Dunn kept cruising, but it was hard not to feel like there was some luck at play. The Padres hitters were seeing the ball well, even if they were kept guessing at times. Through just three innings, the Padres accumulated seven instances of hard contact against Dunn. It was hard not to feel like it was only a matter of time until his luck ran out.
That being said, any pitcher that throws a no-hitter gets some amount of luck. Right? Riiiight?
Well, Mitch Moreland spoiled the no-no with a two-out double in the sixth. As if a trip-wire had been triggered, Dunn’s luck came to a screeching, skidding, burning halt.
Dunn’s 106th pitch of the day was one of the most hung sliders I’ve seen in a long time. Wil Myers, who I can only assume has been mindfully practicing gratitude during COVID-19, wasted no time in taking what Dunn so graciously gave him. Unsurprisingly, that was Dunn’s final pitch of the day, and he left in position to take the loss for the M’s.
It certainly seemed like he’d end up taking the loss. Dinelson Lamet struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth for an excellent closing salvo to his 10-strikeout day, and Drew Pomeranz made short work of the “home team” in the seventh. That set the stage for one of the three former Mariners in the Padres’ bullpen to take care of the eighth and pass it off to closer Trevor Rosenthal.
Which former Mariner would it be? Certainly not Dan Altavilla, who gave up two runs to his former team yesterday during a bullpen day for the Padres. Austin Adams was just activated today, but for some reason manager Jayce Tingler opted to instead bring in the third and possibly worst option: Emilio Pagán, who you may remember for being pretty good for the M’s as a rookie in 2017 before being traded for Ryon Healy that offseason. Pagán ended up struggling with the A’s before rebounding with the Rays last season. He’s gone back to struggling for the Padres this season.
Those struggles continued into today. Former Padre Luis Torrens led off the eighth with a single into right. Two batters later, Dylan Moore came to bat. Dylan worked a 2-0 count, got a middle-up fastball, and launched it.
The Mariners went back and forth with the Padres after that, trading doughnuts in the ninth inning to send the game into extras. With a man starting on second base due to the 2020 extra inning rules, Fernando Tatís Jr. easily drove in the go-ahead run with a single, putting the pressure on the Mariners to match it in the bottom of the 10th.
A pair of sacrifice flies did the job. Torrens skied a ball to right field, allowing Tim Lopes to advance to the third base. J.P. Crawford followed suit with a fly ball into center field, scoring Lopes. Dylan Moore threatened to close the door with a two-out ground rule double, but Kyle Lewis struck out in a full count. To the 11th they went.
It was in the 11th that the Padres separated themselves from the fledgling Mariners. Mitch Moreland and recent Mariner Austin Nola helped the Padres push three whole runs across. Perhaps demoralized, the Mariners couldn’t even get their second base freebie in their own inning. Phil Ervin, who has played just 13 games for the Seattle Mariners, is perhaps one of the most quintessential Mariners out there. His swinging strikeout to end the game felt equal parts inevitable and merciful.
With the win, the Padres clinched a playoff spot. With the loss, the Mariners saw the present shortcomings of their roster laid bare: an unsteady starting staff, an inconsistent lower half of the order, and a terrible bullpen. And with the end of the game, the fans were released from their bondage, having arrived home winded and thought: I guess I’m glad I did that, but I’m not sure I’ll do it again.