I got my first job at 14, slinging popcorn at the movie theatre, because my parents thought it’d teach me the value of a dollar. Four years later, all I had learned was how to treat a burn from a maladjusted popper spitting out molten hot kernels, that we had to call it “buttery topping” because we weren’t legally allowed to call it “butter,” and that y’all are savages in the dark when you think no one’s looking. The things my tender teenage self had to sweep up off a sticky movie theatre floor! We ring the shame bell! We ring the shame bell for one thousand years!
Tonight Chris Flexen attempted to teach his teammates the value of one precious run, going toe-to-toe in a pitcher’s duel with the Rockies’ on-again, off-again ace Kyle Freeland. Flexen probably deserved the win, but because teachers are continually undervalued in this country, he didn’t get it, with one pesky pitch to C.J. Cron standing between him and his 7th win of the season. (And I know, pitcher wins, but also: Flex currently has a .667 winning percentage on the season, which is exactly double his 2017 percentage. Maybe the Mariners have something with that “constantly raiding the Mets’ closet” strategy.)
Flexen was efficient, setting down the Rockies 1-2-3 in the first inning on eight pitches. Uncharacteristically, he issued a walk in both the second and third innings, but was able to recover in the second with two strikeouts and in the third by picking off Dom Nunez at first. Flexen didn’t give up a base hit until the fifth inning, on a ground ball single off the bat of Brendan Rodgers, but again rebounded, striking out Josh Fuentes to end the inning. He also gave up a single in the sixth to hot-hitting Raimel Tapia, but coaxed an inning-ending double play from Yonathan Daza to quell that threat.
The Mariners, on the other hand, got their first hit way back in the second inning, on a one-out double off the bat of Jake Bauers, but weren’t able to push a run across until the fifth, when Tom Murphy beat out an infield single that would have been an out if fielded by Nolan Arenado, followed by a little dunky base hit from Fraley and a well-struck single by Moore. With the bases loaded and just one out, it looked like the Mariners might be able to make a big inning out of it, but Shed Long Jr. couldn’t recapture his bases-loaded magic of the past Sunday and struck out, leaving it up to J.P. Crawford, who used his speed to give the Mariners the first run of the night:
This might have been a bigger inning, but Dylan Moore made a brain oopsie on the bases there, ending the inning, only for Kyle Freeland—somehow sitting at just under 80 pitches—to come back out in the sixth and mow down the top of the Mariners order 1-2-3 with two strikeouts. That wasn’t their first mistake on the bases that night, either; Kyle Seager got caught stealing in the fourth after walking which, what, why.
Unfortunately all of Flexen’s hard work would not be rewarded with a win, which is the opposite of what the moral of this story should be and also why pitcher wins are stupid. In the seventh, with two outs, C.J. Cron ambushed a first pitch fastball from Flexen and redirected it to Planet X, wherever that might be, and after giving up a triple to Brendan Rodgers, Flex’s night came to an end.
At this point in the recap I would like to stop and thank the lone fan who kept a faithful “K” chant watch for Flexen, and indeed throughout the game, because I think it really helped him! Flexen is not a strikeout pitcher—a mere 16% K rate—but tonight he had six, adding to the eight he had in his last outing against Minnesota. Also helping Flexen, probably: facing the Rockies. But I choose to believe it was that lone passionate fan, driving the K chant every time there were two strikes on the board loudly enough for it to carry over the broadcast. J.T. Chargois came in and polished off the inning for Flex, and then Paul Sewald and Kendall Graveman locked things down in the 8th and 9th with a strikeout each, although sadly without any sword-sheathing action from Sewald, maybe because he was afraid of being checked for sticky stuff even more than he had been.
But there was one Mariner listening to Flexen’s lessons about earning precious, precious runs: Shed Long Jr., who pounced on a poorly-located fastball from homer-prone Rockies reliever Tyler Kinley and sent his own pitch to space:
Everyone needs that person in the friend group who understands money, who is the Fiscally Responsible One, who suggests a nice little one-run potluck at home instead of going all out one night and eating ramen the next. Thanks goodness we have Shed Long Jr. to be that friend, and provide moments like these who, even when we are flat broke, make us feel like a million bucks.
We were meant for youuuuuuu, Shed