Coming off a game two nights ago in which the Mariners won a bullpen game going up against AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber, the Mariners’ clubhouse was desperately in need of equilibrium of some sorts, with a voracious appetite for mediocrity. Last night, Casey Mize stymied their offense one run over 7.2 innings last night. Spencer Turnbull toed the rubber for the Tigers tonight, and the Mariners obliged by getting no-hit for the second time in as many weeks.
It didn’t take long for things to go sideways:
That’s Dunn’s fifth pitch of the game, and he just didn’t make his pitch. In fairness, that’s 95 mph, but it also leaked out over the lower-middle of the plate, which isn’t a great place to make a mistake. Jeimer Candelario isn’t an especially good hitter. He’s almost a textbook average big league hitter. He’s shown the ability to hit the ball hard when he makes contact, though, and at 106 mph, that’s some fairly loud contact. It wouldn’t be the last time Candelario wreaked havoc on the Mariners. Not even close.
Here he is, just two innings later:
In most contexts, this is a poorly hit ball. In a way, in this context, this is a poorly hit ball! But a weakly hit grounder to the right side often gets the runner home. And with a runner on first and second, Jose Marmolejos elects to step on first for the easy out instead of trying to force it to home plate — a judicious decision on his part.
Dunn held up his end of the bargain, going 5.2 innings with two walks, nine strikeouts, and just two earned runs. He wasn’t especially efficient with his fastball — he posted just an 18% CSW with it — but he only gave up three hard-hit balls on the night, and he finished with a CSW of 27% on the whole. Good pitchers make bad teams look bad, and the Tigers are bad. They are so, so very bad. Their hitters are in the negatives by WAR, with a -1.1 WAR that’s made up of equal parts horrid offense and defense.
Unfortunately, the Mariners aren’t so great themselves:
If I recall, the scientific name for a group of Mariners hitters is “horse shit”, which I believe derives from Greek. On the season, their wOBA is superior to the Tigers’ by just three points, and their team wRC+ by just eight points. Tonight, they had just two batted balls with an expected batting average higher than .500 on the night, and Mitch Haniger was responsible for both of them.
Here’s Haniger, smoking a ball 108 mph off the bat:
If you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s that sunuvabitch Jeimer Candelario who spoils a batted ball that ends up being a hit much more often than not. He and Turnbull teamed up to be an extremely big pain in the ass all night.
Here’s Candelario the next inning, causing more ass pain:
If you’re keeping score at him, that’s a home run, double, two runs batted in, and a swift defensive play that saved the no-hitter for Spencer Turnbull. Miguel Cabrera batted in a run too, but there’s a universe in which Turnbull doesn’t have a no-hitter without Candelario. Maybe that’s because Cabrera doesn’t end up batting a run in. Maybe that’s because Candelario’s stand-in doesn’t make that play at third.
As it often goes in baseball, here is a batted ball from the next inning that is also somehow a hit:
50 mph off the bat. 50 mph! It goes to show how, yes, you need to have a strong night to throw a no-hitter. But you also need to be really fuckin’ lucky. Turnbull was on the lucky side of the penny for much of the night. Brady Lail was...not.
Now, we know that no-hitters are on the rise. They’ve spiked exponentially, while batting average has plummeted. It’s games like Wade Miley’s no-hitter that make question whether any of these no-hit bids are impressive at all. This game is certainly no exception. Spencer Turnbull deserves credit where credit is due, regardless of changing landscape around the league, and regardless of, uh, the opposing team being the Mariners.
In the end, it’s not a big deal. At least to me. Maybe I’ve become numb to the experience of being a fan of the Seattle Mariners. I’ve become resigned to games like this. So much so that, by the fourth inning or so, I had a feeling that this would be the end result. I don’t care so much about being no-hit. Hell, I wouldn’t have cared much more if it was a perfect game. But I do care about how it’s going to affect players and coaches, and I can already see that people are starting to (unfairly) call for Tim Laker’s head.
In any case, this is a frustrating night for us, but a very special night for several others. After tonight, just eight pitchers have thrown no-hitters in Tigers history. That’s cool! Just not for us. Congrats to Jeimer Candelario on his big night. Oh, and Spencer Turnbull too.