The creative spirit of invention is one of the greatest things about being alive, but, and this cannot be stressed enough, not all ideas are good ideas.
Oh btw I’m building a cyborg dragon— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2018
Maybe it was a bad idea to let Nick Margevicius start this game, seeing as how the last time we saw Nicky Marge he was laboring in the fifth inning against a COVID-depleted Astros team. Fatigue, we were told. Nothing too big to worry about. And a 7-2 victory over the loathsome Astros helped wash away the remembrance of Marge being lifted mid at-bat after throwing three pitches nowhere near the strike zone, or the fact that it took him almost 80 pitches to get through four innings.
But if it was a bad idea to start Margevicius, it was a worse one to leave him in when it became quickly, glaringly apparent that Nicky Marge once again did not have his Good Stuff today. And for Marge, the prototypical soft-tossing lefty, the stuff is never really that good; it’s the command that makes it play up. That command seemed to have deserted Margevicius as he allowed a leadoff single to Kiké Hernández, then walked Devers and J.D. Martinez before Xander Bogaerts mercifully expanded the zone on himself in a strikeout. Christian Vázquez took Marge’s first-pitch offering and redirected it to right field, scoring Boston’s first run of the day and tying the game, undoing the hard work the two-man wrecking crew of Haniger and France had done in the top of the first with back-to-back doubles. Margevicius followed that at-bat up with not one but two bases-loaded walks, none of which were particularly competitive pitches, to gift Boston two more runs. It felt longer than it takes to type, honestly. By the time he was finally lifted, Margevicius had recorded one out on 32 pitches, with only 13 of them strikes. He faced seven batters—seven more than he probably should have faced—and walked four of them.
Drew Steckenrider came in to relieve Margevicius, and while I appreciate that this team likes to stick together, Steckenrider seemed to have inherited Marge’s command problems. Steck himself is somewhat of a reclamation project, working his way back from a triceps injury that landed him on the IL in July of last season. Maybe it was entering in the first inning throwing off the former closer or just the pressure of trying to clean up Marge’s sizable mess, but Steckenrider wasn’t much sharper, hitting Christian Arroyo to score another freebie run before Bobby Dalbec mercifully grounded into a double play.
The command issues followed Steckenrider into the second, as he issued two walks to lead off the inning (including a four-pitch walk to Devers) before giving up an RBI double to Bogaerts. The Mariners defense managed to capture Devers trying to score through a very normal 7-6-5-2-6 putout featuring a cameo by the third base coach. Just normal things. That staked the Red Sox to a 5-1 lead at the end of two innings. Here’s a quick comparison to let you know how things were going:
Eduardo Rodríguez: 36 pitches, 26 strikes
Mariners pitching through two innings: 67 pitches, 29 strikes
To be fair, I thought this recap was going to go to a much more dire place after those first two innings, and credit to the bullpen for righting the ship. Casey Sadler provided two solid innings in the third and fourth, walking one but giving up no hits, and filling up the zone in a way that was a most welcome relief compared to the earlier innings. A staggering 17 of Sadler’s 23 pitches went for strikes. But the real hero of the day was Ljay Newsome, who worked the final four innings of the game for the Mariners and held the potent Red Sox offense to just two hits and no runs, with four strikeouts. The two hits Ljay gave up were both doubles to J.D. Martinez, by the way, but each time Ljay worked his way out of trouble. The normally reserved Newsome even showed a rare display of emotion after he stranded JDM at third the first time around:
That doesn’t look like much to you, maybe, but in Ljay-land, that little fist pump is akin to him backflipping off the mound.
Servais had Graveman warming at points, in case the Mariners ever surged back to take a lead. The Mariners did get a little closer in the fifth, adding two runs on back-to-back doubles from Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford, getting us tantalizingly close to pure Chaos Ball. With no outs, this was the Mariners’ best chance to storm back in the game. Unfortunately, for once the big bats at the top of the lineup weren’t able to do anything; Haniger and Seager flew out, and Ty France struck out looking. France lowkey had a pretty brutal day aside from his first-inning double; he also grounded into a double play in the 8th after Haniger had worked a walk to kill a burgeoning rally. Seager’s day wasn’t any better, with an 0-for-4, but he might have just been tired from carrying the offense yesterday.
With Margevicius headed for an MRI and unlikely to make his next start, it’s time to start examining ideas about what the Mariners will do to fill that spot. Admit the sixth starter spot is cursed and go back to a five-man rotation? Anoint Ljay the sixth starter? Promote one of the other depth arms like Robert Duggar or Darren McCaughan? Call up Logan Gilbert? Ideas abound. The challenge for the Mariners will be selecting the best one, and staying away from Elon Musk’s Twitter feed for inspiration.