Something I’ve gotten really into doing over the pandemic: at-home manicures. I’ve always had terrible nails; they don’t grow at all, they break constantly, and when I try to do them for special occasions it looks like a preschooler has been practicing finger painting. Happily, a friend got me an at-home manicure kit for Christmas and now I have the kind of nice nails I used to envy on other people (thanks, Olive + June!). The most important thing I learned about taking care of my nails: it’s not all about the polish. I never realized what a bad cuticle picker I was or how much of a mess they were until I started taking care of them. Now my hands look more like grown-up lady hands and less like something out of a 50s B movie. Seriously, cuticles are so important! Bleedy sore infected cuticles not only hurt but they also allow infection into your body. Do not pick! Do not rip! Moisturize them!
Good cuticle health is also important if you are an MLB pitcher, apparently, as A’s starter Frankie Montas had to leave today’s game with a torn and bleeding cuticle. Maybe he’s also a picker? Get you some cuticle serum, Frankie, and relax! Montas was very sharp-looking for the first couple of innings, blowing through the Mariners 1-2-3 in the first with his fastball sitting around 95, ending on a called strikeout of Jose Marmolejos at 97. He dirtied the bases a little in the second although not through any fault of his own (Tom Murphy dunked base hit, Julio infield single/error on Chapman, depending on what side of the broadcast you were on), but then allowed a juicy base hit to Jack Reinheimer to score two. However, the wheels fully came off for Montas in the third when he walked Dylan Moore, hit Jarred Kelenic, and then ran to a 2-0 count on Marmolejos before someone in the A’s dugout noticed he was actively bleeding and appeared with a merciful hook. Cuticle care, people! Hand sanitizer is hell on your hands! Moisturize those puppies and oil yer cuticles! Montas was replaced by Deolis Guerra who finished off the walk to Marmo and then surrendered an almost-grand-slam to Cal Raleigh, according to the Mariners broadcast, or a lazy fly ball that caught the wind, according to the A’s broadcast. Either way, it scored another two runs. Unfortunately, that would be the last of the Mariners’ scoring threat until the very end of the game, while meanwhile, “rub a little cuticle serum on it” doesn’t seem like quite as easy a fix for the Mariners’ pitching staff.
If you were looking for clarity on the sixth starter battle, well, unfortunately today’s game didn’t offer much. Nick Margevicius was equal to Montas in the first, throwing a first-pitch strike to every batter and retiring the top of the A’s lineup 1-2-3, ending on his own swinging strikeout at a blistering 91 mph. In the second inning, however, Large Marge seemingly lost his feel, falling behind batters and issuing two four-pitch walks in the inning, while also surrendering two home runs: one a no-doubter off the bat of forever pest Jed Lowrie, and one a spring training special for Stephen Piscotty. Marge couldn’t clear the second inning and was lifted for Moises Gomez, who performed his job as pitcher busboy effectively once again, coaxing a flyout from Matt Olson.
Margevicius came back out in the third and things looked to be back on track, allowing just an infield hit to how-is-he-up-again Jed Lowrie, but the fourth started off with a double surrendered to Chad Pinder. To his credit, Marge pulled it together and struck out Piscotty and Canha back-to-back, and then got a groundout from Elvis Andrus made a little more adventurous than it should have been by a poor throw from Haggerty, but as an outing, it wasn’t quite as crisp as Nicky Marge has been in the past—and with a fastball that barely squeaks above 90, Margevicius must be crisp.
Marge doesn’t get saddled with the loss in today’s contest; that belongs to Brady Lail, who gave up the go-ahead homer to Matt Chapman on a 92 mph fastball that Chapman turned around at 110 mph over the fence. No wind needed to help that out. The rest of the damage was allowed by Casey Sadler in the eighth, who also seemed to not have command of his good curveball today and allowed four hits, all singles, which the A’s manufactured into three runs. I wrote in my notes “death by paperbuts” instead of “cuts” but you know what, I stand by that.
Enough bad things. Let’s talk about some Good Things:
- Julioooooooo was on base in every at-bat today. He infield-singled and then stole a base (note: claim disputed); walked against Montas’s replacement by refusing to chase a slider; got a base hit off Yusmeiro Petit, 16 years his senior, and hit into a fielder’s choice. He was also denied an opportunity to come up in the ninth with the bases loaded by Jantzen Witte, who had the gall to flyout in the ninth, costing us a high-leverage Julio at-bat. Boo, Jantzen Witte. (*note: the dispute of this claim is disputed)
- Like Julio, Jarred Kelenic played the whole game, and once again showed all the different ways he can impact a game, from a fine running catch in center field, to working a walk off presumptive A’s closer Trevor Rosenthal, to smashing a double in the ninth-inning rally to draw the Mariners up a little closer and provide the first run for the Mariners since the third inning. You know who probably takes excellent care of his cuticles? Jarred “I want to cover my fingers in rings” Kelenic.
- After today, Julio and Jarred are both batting .333. I know that’s not anything, I just find it delightful, and it’s the last week of spring training and I am allowed to do so.
- It’s hard to tell without video, but Will Vest seemed to be very sharp today. His fastball sat 94-95 and he punched out Chapman with 95 on the black. Again, so I’m told. Vest had some scary wobbles earlier in spring where I wondered if he’d even make the team, but has been stacking impressive successive outings as spring winds on.
All this cuticle talk prompted me to paint my nails while listening to the game. Hoppy spring! TAKE CARE OF YOUR CUTICLES.