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Savior of the Broken, the Beaten, and the Damned: Yusei Kikuchi ushers in Hit Parade as M’s beat Rays 5–1

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Sorry for getting that song stuck in your head.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I think a lot about challenging jobs.

When not moonlighting as a Mariners blogger/community hanger-on, I spend my day job working as a recruiter, working to fill various executive-level roles in the tech world. That means I’m always considering jobs that might be harder than meets the eye, or where there’s a high barrier to entry.

After watching today’s game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays, a wonderful 5–1 victory for the hometown nine, it was hard to know which role would be the most challenging. Is it being a major league umpire? (Joe West had a particularly bad outing last night, but Quinn Wolcott seemed perfectly fine tonight.) Is it being a major league starting pitcher? (One out of the two guys tonight sure made it look easy.) Is it being the guy whose job it is to try to sign major free agents for the Rays? (“Come check out our in-stadium aquarium, where you’ll get 30% of your salary in fish bucks!”)

After all that thought, I decided on one job in particular that really got to me: pithy headline writer. It’s hard to be brilliant, concise, witty, and fun. So please appreciate my attempts below, and if any of the New York tabloids are hiring editors, hit me up.

Michael Wacha Single-a: M’s Batter Rays Righty

The one-time top prospect is somehow pushing 30, and based on his performance today against the M’s, he might even be pushing 40. Across 3.2 innings, Wacha allowed 11 hits — the second-most hits he’s allowed in a game in his career, dating back to his rookie season — and somehow, nine of them were singles!

Now, don’t chalk this up to a case of bad BABIP luck for baseball middle-aged Mr. Wacha. He did little to instill confidence, with just two strikeouts and a whole lot of poor two-strike pitching.

Kyle Seager got the action going in the first with an RBI single to plate JP Crawford:

...followed by a single from Ty “Win” France...

...followed by an RBI single from Jake “Not Jack” Bauers:

...followed by a Dylan Moore flyout and then an RBI single from Shedric “Slick Ric” Long:

...followed by an RBI infield single from Luis “Don’t Call Me Slow” Torrens:

Whew. Got all that?

Singles Night: Hit Parade in SoDo

Well, I kinda spoiled this one above, but even after Wacha hit the showers, the Mariners kept the hits coming. They finished with 13 base knocks, the third-most all season (the top two both came against the Twins). It was a fun night to be a Seattle fan, especially because...

Yusei Yes, Rays Say No // Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving!

Yusei Kikuchi was nigh unhittable. He scattered four hits across seven innings and 103 high-intensity pitches.

My favorite strikeout of the lot came at the 0:22 mark, when, in the sixth inning, the Japanese lefty reared back and hit 98 MPH on a swinging strike three to Yandy Díaz. He managed to work those Ks in among hordes of weak contact, from soft fly balls to routine ground outs to Dylan Moore and J.P. Crawford. He was, in short, the type of pitcher the Mariners hoped they were getting out of Japan, and the type of pitcher they could absolutely extend this offseason (when faced with his unique four-year team option).

And to cap it all off, yesterday was Kikuchi’s 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Yusei! May you keep pitching this well and remain in the Northwest Green & Navy Blue for a long time.

J.P. (Just Perfect) Crawford

Watching this Gold Glover field all night was simply a treat. Crawford’s accuracy on casual infield tosses and difficult cross-body throws alike has been remarkable this season, with a few outstanding plays tonight to showcase his skills.

My favorite throw of them all was when he ranged to his left, scooped the ball up on the run, and purposely executed a long hop. To anybody else, it would have appeared like he just spiked the ball 50 feet short, but J.P. had a plan. Sure enough, the long hop gave Jake Bauers plenty of time at first to field an easy bounce and nab Manuel Margot (I think).

Snitch Haniger: Right Fielder Steals One From Rays

The first out in the ninth inning was a beautiful sliding catch from Mitch Haniger, and the second out in the ninth was a mirror image, with Jake Fraley saving one over in left. The third out? Well, you make the call:

Nice try, Mitch. Good to know your conscience won’t quite allow you to really sell a fake here. May I suggest you stay away from the poker table down in Vegas?

Move Over, Sliced Bread — M’s Hit .500, Astonish the World

Yes, I’m aware that the team hitting .500 not even halfway through the season isn’t exactly cause for celebration. And yes, I know this team is still, in all likelihood, mediocre at best. But this? This was a fun win, with a solid offensive output and a beautiful start from Yusei Kikuchi. On Friday nights in June, that’s something worth celebrating.