It’s a football cliché, not a baseball one, but tonight in Globe Life Park (not Field, that’s like calling T-Mobile’s signature color “pink” and not “magenta,” get with the program) it was a game of two halves for the Mariners. I would love to recap just the first half of this game, pretend Kendall Graveman came in to preserve a one-run lead, and let you believe the Mariners marched triumphant deep into the heart of a Texas night, but that would apparently be “without journalistic integrity” and “falsifying a game report” and “lying to you.” All I’m saying is, if you want to stop reading halfway through, I certainly won’t blame you. I sort of wish I could.
Tonight’s game started out well, with the Mariners getting on the board first. Kohei Arihara stymied Rick Rizzs in trying to pronounce his name consistently more than he stymied Mariners batters, who brought a fun, new, aggressive plate approach to stack runs on the board early. The Mariners loaded the bases for Ty France, who hit into what would have been a double play, but as he smoked the ball at 104 mph and Nick Solak couldn’t handle it, it wound up being an RBI and just one out. J.P. Crawford also worked some fielder’s choice magic as they tried to throw out Kyle Lewis at the plate, but failed, giving the Mariners a 2-0 edge in the first.
Remember this, because it will be important later, because the baseball gods love symmetry.
The Mariners would tack on two more runs in the second with an Evan! White! two! run! home! run! that was absolutely destroyed. Even better, it scored Dylan Moore, who had two hits in the day including a double as he continues to round back into form. (We hope we hope we hope.)
What a morale lifter! What a palate cleanser! What an opportunity to get right against a not-very-good pitching team! The heart, it leaps. It leapt even more when Moore and White teamed up again with back-to-back doubles in the fourth to give the Mariners five runs. And honestly, if you want to stop reading here, that’s okay.
Even a Joey Gallo solo shot in the second couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm, much, as Erik Swanson was out there looking entirely...cromulent. Maybe the Mariners would be able to squeeze three full innings out of him. Maybe four! Unfortunately, right after Gallo, the unbelievably bothersome Adolis García engaged Swanson in an 11-pitch at-bat with no outs which Swanson eventually won, getting García to ground out, but at the cost of Swanny’s precious pitch count. After Willie Calhoun worked a six-pitch walk in the third with two outs, pushing Swanson’s pitch count to 45, Ljay Newsome replaced Swanson, but didn’t need to throw a pitch to end the inning, as Luis Torrens picked off Calhoun to take care of that for him. Again, remember that, because it will be part of this whole symmetry thing later. Or alternately, you could stop reading here. This is the last warning you will receive.
Maybe the Mariners would have been better served to just have Torrens throw backpicks all inning, because when Ljay Newsome did throw pitches, it didn’t go well. He served up Joey Gallo a tasty snack for a two-run homer, and then another RBI double to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, because the entire Rangers lineup is made of pests, bringing the score to an uncomfortable 5-4. Worst of all, right after that batter Ljay grabbed his arm and was promptly removed from the game with something the Mariners have announced as “elbow inflammation.” Here’s hoping inflammation is just that, but anything around the elbow is obviously double-plus-ungood. It’s tough for Newsome, who has been an ironman over his MiLB career, routinely plodding through 130-inning seasons, and tough for the Mariners, who are desperately close to holding pitching drives at T-Mobile.
Also tough: the Mariners’ need to stretch Will Vest, who as a reminder is a Rule 5 draft pick who wasn’t even invited to Detroit’s alternate site last year, and throw him not only into high-leverage situations like cleaning up after Newsome, but also try to squeeze multiple innings out of him. Vest worked a clean fifth but wasn’t able to clear the sixth, giving up a single to Nate Lowe, a double to Dahl and then a two-RBI single to who else but IKF, a player I would love were he a Mariner but am doomed to be annoyed by due to his presence in the AL West. That gave the Rangers a 6-5 lead over the Mariners and honestly, since five runs feels like the absolute most you can hope for out of this lineup, that felt like curtains for the night.
But. This is Texas. And that’s Kyle Seager country.*
*Okay technically, North Carolina is Kyle Seager country, but until they have a team, Kyle will just keep on claiming the Lone Star state.
Because the baseball gods love both symmetry and to be heavy-handed with their metaphors, the pipes burst in Globe Life Park (feels like that should be enough to earn a demotion to field) somewhere around this inning, and it felt like that might be a symbol that the Mariners were about to break through, as Drew Steckenrider managed to hold the Rangers off the board in the 7th, and in the 8th, Luis Torrens did this:
Unfortunately, the metaphor wasn’t about the Mariners offensive output, and more about the flow of runs allowed by the once-untouchable Anthony Misiewicz, looking disappointingly mortal. Misiewicz has traditionally been very stingy with the longball throughout his career, but Adolis García (again) pounced on the first tasty-looking pitch he saw from Tony Sandwiches for a game-(re)tying HR. Misiewicz then allowed a single to Khris Davis, kicking off his quest to .247, and a wild pitch moved Davis to second. After a strikeout, the groundball-getting Misiewicz intentionally walked Charlie Culberson, but then surrendered a go-ahead RBI double to Charlie Culberson. It’s probably a mark of how good Misiewicz has been that two runs feels like an offensive onslaught against the short king lefty, and also a sign of how fatigued the pen is that rocks like Misiewicz have been, well, getting rocked.
This wasn’t the only run that would be given up by the Mariners this inning, although Misiewicz doesn’t deserve too much blame for this one, other than putting the runner on base in the first place; Willie Calhoun grounded into what should have been an easy out at home, fielded by J.P. Crawford with a nice throw back home. Unfortunately, Luis Torrens—who did a lot of good things in this game otherwise, remember?—forgot how many baserunners there were, thinking it was a force out at home and merely stepping on the plate rather than tagging out the runner. That is...bad. It’s worth remembering Torrens, despite some scattered MLB experience, is less than a year older than Cal Raleigh, but also, sweet tapdancing Tippecanoe and Tyler too, that was bad.
See, I told you it’d be symmetry, although in sort of a sad way, like a misshapen jack-o-lantern.
That last run turned out to be important, because in the ninth the Mariners would mount a little mini-comeback, scoring a run but falling just short (and I mean literally just short).
No, I can’t embed it and force myself to look at it again. Click here, if ur morbid.
So maybe the pipes were actually a metaphor for Mariners’ fans hearts, filled up with agita and blowing out in new and unexpected channels.
I hate when we’re the metaphor.