Would that we could all be so lucky as to have a pair of coworkers like Mitch Haniger and Ty France. Feeling lousy and need a shift covered? Ty’s got you. Way behind and feeling overwhelmed? Mitch can scoop some of that busywork and will vouch for you in the next big meeting. Your No. 7 and No. 8 starting pitchers, a waiver claim, a minor league signee, a converted mediocre AAA starter, and a closer with three blown saves already in under three weeks are inexplicably crafting a one-hitter but you’re still not outscoring your opponents?
CALL. MITCH. AND. TY.
There are many days where the box score doesn’t tell the whole story, but today my job might as well be as easy as slapping this image in and letting anyone who didn’t catch the game live figure out what happened:
For much of the afternoon, the Seattle Mariners seemed more interested in a faithfully crafted sequel to last night’s Zack Greinke gem than a brave departure for the genre. Despite a lovely first inning where they pushed Astros starter Jake Odorizzi to nearly 40 pitches and pushed across a run on an Evan White single, the early spring Houston signee seemed to right the spaceship and cruised through the fourth, seeing his side tie up the game on a sun double missed by José Marmolejos in left field which...
Look. I’m upset this wasn’t caught. It’s not a gimme play, and we’ve seen the sun waylay far better defenders than Marmo, but with the benefit of hindsight this was the difference between a one-hitter and a no-hitter. I appreciate that Marmo, pictured above with the .806 OPS in the box score, is one of approximately four good hitters right now in Seattle’s everyday lineup, and I cannot wait for someone to return from IL or be called up to take on his reps. In all honesty, he could be a fit for several decent teams who need a 1B/cOF, including the Nationals organization that never called him up for over half a decade.
BUT, this was a 99.7 mph laser that flew 379 feet. In most of the park, it’s three runs in instead of one on this middle-middle 88.7 mph fastball from Nick Margevicius to a lefty-masher in Aledmys Díaz. This is hardly, hardly the worst case outcome, and I won’t lose sleep on it or Marmo himself.
Who will likely be losing sleep are Jake Odorizzi and Myles Straw, who conspired to crack the game open for Seattle in the bottom of the 5th. Taylor Trammell smashed a single, Tom Murphy lined out, and J.P. Crawford for all his foibles drew a walk, putting the white dwarf-level hot top of the lineup in a position to do damage despite the relative lack of oomph the back half of the order has put forth. Who but Mitch?
Mitch, on a slider that could scarcely have been better located, went ~400 feet and narrowly eluded Straw’s evocation of Willie Mays:
Houston retrieved the dispirited Odorizzi in favor of lefty Brooks Raley, who made it two pitches in before getting a one-time offer to have his stuff purchase a 100% timeshare, effective immediately in Edgar’s Cantina. Allow me to offer a quick scientific appraisal of people who knew, much like Dave Sims, that this was a certified hunk of Yukon Gold off the bat.
I’ve said before I’m a Dave Sims fan, which was not always the case. He makes mistakes, sees carry in soft fly balls that do not travel, and has the occasional hilarious goof up. But moments like this are where Sims earns it all back for me and then some. The energy, 9k fans and all, is palpable and Sims matches it. A decade of working together with Mike Blowers has made for a somewhat surprisingly delightful broadcast duo, but these hits, where Sims opens the play with his ebullience, then Blowers comes in with a more staid, yet pleased and proud morsel of analysis evokes some of the two’s best calls, like the unforgettable Nelson Cruz lifeline bomb in Game 161. This year’s team has already given them more to work with than I had any expectations of.
Seattle (read: Haniger and France) added two more runs in the 7th with a pair of doubles, but with how their bullpen filled things in, they could have packed it in early. Margevicius exited early in the 5th with what initially seemed to be an injury but was later reported to be merely fatigue, and Ljay Newsome earned himself a postgame beer bath with two shutout frames to earn his first career win.
Even more excitingly, Seattle used its best relievers in its higher leverage situations once again, earning the delight of millions (read: me). Anthony Misiewicz befuddled Kyle Tucker after a 3-2 HBP to Jason Castro in relief of Casey Sadler in the 7th with a runner on to quell the closest thing to a scoring threat Houston posed in the back half of the game. In the 8th, with the heart of the depleted Astros lineup approaching, Scott Servais put his faith in Rafael Montero, still the club’s best reliever by track record in spite of early struggles. Montero set down Yuli Gurriel, Michael Brantley, and Carlos Correa on 10 pitches without a hint of danger.
A Sunday success. A series win. Another sparkling hint at what this club can be capable of as it fills out going forward. Thank your local Mitch and Ty.