Some baseball games seem to vanish from the face of the earth, spoken of only in hushed tones. Maybe they get memory holed in an Orwellian effort by MLB’s investigative department, or maybe they’re just too irrelevant for anyone to notice they were played. Between the complete lack of video evidence that it occurred and the Mariners beat writers seemingly giving up on reporting it after Haniger’s home run, today’s matchup at Surprise Stadium is one of those games. It’s a cryptid caught only by a sketch, a UFO captured on cracked film, a party of hikers, vanished into thin air.
This recap, along with the meager few comments on the game thread, may well be the only testaments to its existence. If so, very well. You and I will venture into the dark nonetheless.
Fittingly for a game hidden far from view, with nary a visual depiction to be found, two complete unknowns took the mound tonight for both teams. Despite the lack of big name pitching (RHP Robert Dugger for the Mariners and LHP Wes Benjamin for the Rangers), each team sent most of their Opening Day lineups to the plate, promising electric offense. And electric offense we got, though for the Mariners it was confined to the first three innings, and only from the 5th on for the Rangers.
The M’s hot start was the perfect synthesis of long ball and small ball. The top of the order played by the book, with Haniger reaching base on a blooper over the shift and France bullying a baseball onto the berm to send them both home. Seager kept the momentum up by accident, making it to second as the Rangers scrambled out of the shift to track down a ball that slipped off the end of his bat. Between a wild pitch and a groundout to first from Lewis, Seager found himself on third, and Torrens obliged the small ball gods with a sacrifice fly that let Seager do his little Seager jog down to home plate.
After seeing enough of the type of baseball that makes A-Rod gush on national television, Mitch Haniger chose to torment the lefty pitcher with the long ball some more, leading off the third by plastering one into dead center. Ryan Divish, in one of the few remaining scraps of evidence that this game existed on our plane of reality, insisted that it was a no-doubter with no wind assistance, despite a strong breeze. Kyle (of the Lewis variety) and Moore teamed up to score the Mariners’ final run of the night, with a double for K-Lew and an RBI single for D-Mo. The Mariners bats were quiet the rest of the night, save for a single and subsequent steal for JP, yet another opposite field base hit for Seager, and a SMALL BALL ALERT bunt single SMALL BALL ALERT from Ham Swaggerty. Evan White once again made consistently hard contact with nothing to show for it, making him one of only three Mariners to not reach base, and the only one among the starting lineup that did not.
Dugger, for his part, had as solid of an outing as any of us could have hoped for. If you’re asking yourself “who the hell is Robert Dugger,” don’t fret! Isabelle gave us a lovely summary of his story here. The short(er) version is that he was an 18th round pick by the Dipoto front office in 2016, made his debut with the Marlins following the Dee Strange-Gordon trade, and was a waiver wire acquisition by that selfsame Dipoto front office in December. He’s been a starter for the most part, though not one that has ever stood out or found his footing. In his 3 innings today, he allowed no runs, 2 hits, and struck out 2 batters, at one point retiring 6 in a row. He coaxed out soft groundball after soft groundball from some heavy duty sluggers, and to his credit, got a couple swinging strikes that Aaron Goldsmith certainly made sound impressive. All this left me making this face, asking myself whether maybe, just maybe, Robert Dugger is good.
what if robert dugger... is good? haha jk... unless... pic.twitter.com/YRKBnGs78S— addie (@gomsaddie) March 21, 2021
Dugger was replaced by Misiewicz in the 4th, who became the M’s first repeat reliever of the spring. Misiewicz had yet another dominant inning against the heart of the Rangers’ order, with 2 K’s from David Dahl and Khris “Khrush” Davis and a flyout from Gallo. Graveman looked, sorry, SOUNDED, primo as well, despite allowing two consecutive hits, one of which happened to be a dinger from Nate Lowe, marking the start of the Rangers’ six unanswered runs. Graveman was throwing strikes for two full innings like it was nobody’s business, had a pair of strikeouts to match the two hits, and his fastball velo touched 97 several times on a gun that Goldsmith and Gary Hill made sure to note has been lowballing by about 2 MPH.
When Joey Gerber stepped on the mound, the game took a sudden turn for the worse. He allowed a lead-off walk to Davis, who was brought home a batter later on a double from Solak, who promptly scored on a single from Lowe, who managed to beat a throw to home plate on a double from Trevino. Gerber got off the merry-go-round from hell and handed the ball to Taylor Guerrieri. Though he eventually ended the inning with two strikeouts, Guerrieri threw a wild pitch that both walked a batter and allowed Trevino to advance to third. A single from Adolis Garcia sent Trevino home and marked the end of the line for both teams’ offenses.
Rafael Montero got a chance to face off against his former team in the 8th, throwing gas but not quite missing bats. He needed a jumping catch from Moore to turn a sharp line drive into an out and a flash of gold from Evan White to keep Sam Haggerty’s wide throw from allowing a runner to reach. Nevertheless, he and the Mariners infield cobbled together a clean inning before the case was closed on the game forever in the top of the 9th.
It’s almost like there’s some other sporting event that might have piqued a little more interest than a Mariners-Rangers spring training game. I suppose we’ll never know.