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Mariners face good team, play like even better team

Seattle beat the Dodgers 4-3, keeping impostor syndrome at bay

Los Angeles Dodgers v Seattle Mariners

There are always moments in life where we feel overmatched, fraudulent, a cocker spaniel among wolves. Even if the surface-level stuff is similar – cocker spaniels and wolves are both dogs, the Mariners and Dodgers are both baseball teams – some basic analysis will expose massive differences.

The thing about the Los Angeles Dodgers is that they are very good. Almost too good. While the Seattle Mariners have played a beautifully chaotic, overwhelmingly silly brand of baseball that’s led to some wins, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. They’re not as good as the Dodgers. But, from the right angle with some generous lighting, any dog can look like a wolf.

José Marmolejos, career minor league guy, confirmed wolf. Dustin May, weirdo with a good arm, confirmed wolf food. With that improbable play from the least-qualified cleanup hitter in the league, the Mariners had a quick lead on the World Series winners. So much of this season has been the M’s coming back in the wee hours of the night, but their style of chaos can also apply to golden hour homers. No matter how the rebuild plays out or what happens to the rugrats who make up the roster, one thing is abundantly clear. They are not scared of anyone. That includes Taylor Trammell, a rookie who hits opposite field jacks at 104.9 MPH to the deepest part of the park.

Staring at a 3-0 lead, with the entire evening ahead of them to add on, the Mariners got rightfully excited. The same inning that birthed exuberance and Trammell’s feat of strength ended when J.P. Crawford overslid the base and was tagged out trying to steal second, surely a result of being too turnt up. This was understandable for sure, and if anything, more of a reminder that instant replay didn’t have to go this far. Crawford didn’t do anything wrong, per se, but the baseball gods chose to punish the Mariners for it anyway. First by overturning the initial call and ruling Crawford out, then by blessing Mookie Betts and Corey Seager with annoying talent.

With two outs in the third, the Dodgers turned their lineup over, and the Betts-Seager duo saw Justus Sheffield for the second time. They whacked a double and a home run to bring the Dodgers back within a run. Wolves everywhere.

Seager’s dead center home run meant that Sheffield has strangely allowed more home runs in three starts than he did in all of 2020. The dump truck-ian lefty was missing his spots all over the third inning. Justin Turner followed the Betts-Seager barrage with a double of his own, prompting a much-needed mound visit. It probably went something like, “Get this guy out”, which is exactly what Sheffield did. He broke off this 0-2 pitch at the knees to accomplish something Uncle Phil always dreamed of: getting rid of Will Smith.

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As dusk turned to darkness it was the Dodgers who resembled a sheepish, in-over-their-head team, not the all-powerful Seattle Mariners. The M’s tacked on another run in the fourth when Chris Taylor booted a routine grounder. This put Luis Torrens on first base, and Trammell knocked him in with a double down the right field line, his second batted ball of the night to ring up a triple-digit exit velocity. Then it was time for a staple of bad baseball, the kind that any fan of the minor leagues knows all too well, though it never seems to lessen the frustration. In the bottom of the fifth, Dustin May gave Ty France a new Rawlings tattoo.

France grimacingly took his base before heading down to the clubhouse for X-rays that thankfully came back negative. Los Angeles got a run back in the sixth, chasing Sheffield in the process, before the game entered its wildly tense final third. Leading 4-3, having just got a solid outing from their starter and enough offense to put the defending champs on the ropes, it was time to find out if the Mariners had this in them. If there was ever a time for the haters to have their day, it would have been now. Again, these are the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have more consecutive division titles than the Mariners have total. This brings up an age-old question. Who would win: a ferocious pack of wolves with more money than God, or some dudes named Kendall and Dylan?

When Dylan Moore snared that potentially game-tying liner, all of us were taken back to his catch in Félix’s last game. But we were also taken to a place that we haven’t been since the early days of 2018 – a place of confidence. That ball hitting his glove felt like the Mariners hitting the win column. There’s something charmingly poetic about Moore, Seattle’s $590,000 utilityman who didn’t even begin this game at third base, making an astonishing catch while Mookie Betts and his $365 million contract can only watch in disbelief. Same goes for Graveman, a career starter who battled injuries and ineffectiveness before revitalizing his career in the Mariners’ bullpen. Every time Graveman pitches (and he’s pitching well, like, no earned runs in his last 10 appearances well), he looks like he’s mad at the baseball for all those years it betrayed him. That, my friends, is when you know a wolf has arrived.

Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Rafael Montero did his best to kick the fat lady out of the studio, but ultimately got himself out a self-created jam to lock down the save. He induced Corey Seager into a 4-6-3 double play to end the ballgame, leaving Justin Turner’s searing bat in the on-deck circle. By the way, someone on the streaming site I was using said Turner looks like the human version of fruit leather. I think that’s very nice.

When Montero finally slammed the door, the Mariners had officially chaos ball’d their way to an 11th victory. They will go to bed knowing that no American League team has more wins than them, and they got the most recent one against a team that’s supposed to be head and shoulders above them. Frankly, the Dodgers are head and shoulders above the Mariners. Seattle will probably fall victim to the same fate that plagued their 2019 team. But for now, they’re not only hanging with the best teams in the league, they’re beating them, and tonight they did it in the best game of the season.

The wins are stacking, the haters are fuming, and these wolves are howling their way to a fun-filled April.