They weren’t gonna win out. Of course not. Maybe beating up on the Rangers got us a little too confident. After all, it wasn’t out of the question a week in that this team may struggle to win twenty games in this shortened season. This is all just gravy, correct? Come now, be logical!
Nope. This game was pure, unadulterated cruelty.
The cruelest part? It started out soooo wonderfully - a J.P. Crawford walk and a Dylan Moore plunk had Logan Webb teetering right out of the gate. Yeah, they’d only get one run thanks to a productive out from Kyle Seager, but then Ljay Newsome immediately showed why he’s worth keeping an eye on:
Hello Mike Yastrzemski, your grandpa was the GOAT, may Ljay introduce you to the GOATball? pic.twitter.com/vlhIHYvn1U— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) September 9, 2020
That high 0-2 fastball juuuust under the top edge of the zone? Chef’s kisses all around. Ljay would give up a run thanks to a Donovan Solano triple to that dastardly right-center gap in Oracle and a Brandon Belt knock, but battled back fantastically by setting Wilmer Flores down on three pitches, including a gorgeous change at the bottom of the zone:
The top of the second was even better! After a José Marmolejos groundout lulled us into a false sense of runlessness, Evan White and Luis Torrens stuck back with back-to-back scorcher singles; Evan’s at 108.8 MPH off the bat, Luis’s at 105.1. Shed Long, Jr. worked a hard-fought walk, and J.P. cemented himself as the better Crawford:
Who cares if he was thrown out trying to take third and he may have been safe? A three-run lead with the way Ljay was throwing strikes would be plenty.
Except that it wasn’t.
Newsome had Brandon Crawford, undeniably the lesser of the two tonight, down 0-2, a filthy change getting a whiff the pitch prior. Ljay fired a fastball that caught the outside corner, Crawford turned on it, and...
Turns out a ball hit 100 MPH isn’t too great for your hand, and although it ricocheted enough for Seager to snatch the first out of the inning, Ljay’s night was done. To make matters worse, whoever is running Oracle Park’s PA system thought it would be funny to play “Hit the Road, Jack” like Newsome had gotten rocked. That’s truly a low blow. Brady Lail came on to take over, and if you didn’t know that man existed until I wrote his name, I can’t blame you. Yeah, he got the next two outs pretty cleanly, and the M’s added on a fifth run in the top of the third thanks to a Ty France “triple”:
and a Marmo knock one batter later:
It still wouldn’t be enough, though, thanks to Lail giving up four runs over his next two frames, each of them coming with two outs. Alex Dickerson smoked a splash hit in the third right before Solano and Belt teamed up for a double and a single - whatever, a bunch of ~veterans all being hot at the same time happens to every team. The fourth unquestionably hurt worse. The bottom of the frame got to a nice start thanks to a nifty play by J.P. to get Brandon:
.@jp_crawford has NO chill. pic.twitter.com/IFRn1W09FV— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) September 9, 2020
Despite J.P.’s streakiness, he ended tonight with a 96 wRC+, and has more than proven that his glove is at least plus. That’ll play any day. After a second out from Pablo Sandoval, Joey Bart smacked a single through the right side, and Mauricio Dubón deflated Marinerland even further:
This is the cruelty right here. Cruelty to Ljay Newsome, who should have been sticking around at least this long and would damn well not throw that horrible of a 3-2 pitch. Cruelty to Brady Lail, who had no reasonable time to prepare for an emergency outing like this one. Cruelty to us, who just wanted to keep the good times rolling, sneak another game in the playoff hunt (will never not be wild i’m typing that in september this year), and even if the M’s couldn’t pull it off tonight, see an interesting young pitcher who could be A Guy going forward! None of that came to fruition, and it coalesced into the most frustrating game of the season. Casey Sadler, who made his Seattle debut tonight, and Joey Gerber threw scoreless frames following Lail, but it didn’t matter thanks to the Giants giving us a throwback to 2013 off of Anthony Misiewicz in the seventh:
2020 is Darin Ruf’s first year back in the Majors since 2016, after he had slashed a pretty pedestrian .240/.314/.433 over 833 plate appearances and dominated in Korea with the Samsung Lions for three seasons. Is it a nice story? Yeah, I guess. Is Ruf actually doing well in his return to MLB? His 139 wRC+ off the bench says yes! Who seriously would have thought that? If only he could have had this moment against someone else - then again, as the great Bill Watterson once wrote, we’re all “someone else” to someone else.
The M’s went pretty quietly the rest of the night, not pushing any more runs across after the third. In the grand scheme of things, it’s okay. The Astros’ split their double-header with Oakland the the Jays once again beat the Yankees, so they only lost half a game in the playoff (there it is again!) chase. Chances are I won’t even remember this game a year from now, and that’s all good. That won’t change the fact that tonight hurt and disappointed for a lot of reasons. Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh chance, everything I try to remember after a tough loss like this one. But for now, it’s okay to feel that hurt and disappointment. That shit sucked, dude.