I don’t need to tell anyone within a 500-mile radius of Seattle that it is unconscionably hot out this weekend. I mean, really - the temperature in Chicago tonight was just 75 degrees compared to the 91 here. And triple digits on Sunday that could easily creep into 110 come Monday? Lunacy. I was frankly jealous of the Mariners for being able to skip town for a place where the weather felt somewhat habitable, even if that place being Chicago felt surreal.
Rest assured, that while they played in a mild climate, their bats stayed hot as ever. J.P. Crawford battled Carlos Rodón for nine pitches before smacking a line drive into left-center field to open the game, quickly putting to bed any no-hitter watches. He would be stranded after stealing second base, but Yusei Kikuchi responded with an eight-pitch bottom of the first, which included a three-pitch dismissal of Brian Goodwin in which the bat never left his shoulder.
The leadoff man for Seattle reached again in the top of the second, with Tom Murphy reaching on a hit-by-pitch that was a near mirror image of what cost Rodón a perfect game all the way back in April. This time, though, it wasn’t for naught. Jake Bauers flew out to right, and Luis Torrens was given a first-pitch hanger of a curveball and jumped all over it.
Despite not allowing another run in the frame (although he joined the long list of pitchers who have walked Jake Fraley), Rodón’s pitch count had crept all the way up to 43 after just two innings, and was already looking pretty wild. Compared to his season totals - and especially his previous start against the M’s - that alone was a huge win, and Seattle pushed a third run across thanks to a pretty sequence of a Ty France walk, a Kyle Seager bleeder through the shift, and Jake Bauers continuing his BABIP magic with a hard-hit ball through the right side of the infield. Take that, regression!
Yusei, on the other hand, was brilliantly economical through his first four innings. Needing just 42 pitches to get through them (you’ll note that that’s one less than Rodón needed to get through half as many frames), his command was pretty pinpoint, and Yasmani Grandal ambushing a 2-1 cutter for a solo bomb in the second was the only real damage off of him. He labored a bit in the fifth, in large part due to a leadoff walk to Grandal that shouldn’t have been...
...but rebounded nicely, getting Andrew Vaughn on a fielder’s choice and striking out Leury García and Zack Collins in order. The Collins strikeout had a particular exclamation point; I mean, how often do you see 97 on the paint this pretty?
Despite striking out eight, Rodón was knocked out after five innings and over 100 pitches. The bottom of the lineup still had some muscles to flex against José Ruiz, though - Dylan Moore poked a base hit up the middle to lead off the sixth, stole the first of two bases on the night, and Jake Fraley brought them both home with one swing.
I have to say, the Statcast numbers on that dinger are pretty funny. Usually when there’s a home run in a Mariners game that’s under 95 MPH in exit velocity with a sub-Mendoza xBA, it’s some faceless Astro poking one over the Crawford Boxes. Not so tonight! It was here when my stress levels plummeted, even after the top of the lineup went down in order and Kikuchi’s command evaporated in the bottom of the inning. In all fairness, he bailed himself out quite a bit by getting Tim Anderson to hit into a double play after issuing a pretty non-competitive free pass to Danny Mendick, and Goodwin fought hard for an eleven-pitch base on balls, but he was unable to secure a quality start after letting Yoán Moncada reach on a third walk. That’s okay, though! It’s an arbitrary metric. JT Chargois continued his dominant year by coaxing a flyout from José Abreu’s bat, and the Mariners - really, Luis Torrens - still had some fireworks to deploy. Tom Murphy managed to sandwich a double in between Seager and Bauers strikeouts, and Torrens crossed “first multi-home run game” off of his Major League checklist.
Now that is some serious oppo power, something I noticed he flashed quite a bit during his stint in Triple-A. Yes, you can put in all the caveats you’d like here (Triple-A is the moon! Lots of folks have immediately raked after being sent down!). I agree with most of them! The power Torrens has shown since his return, though, seems to be for real, and while I’d like to see some more walks from him, he’s shown enough to warrant an extended look in a Major League lineup, whether that’s behind the plate, at DH, or the occasional start at first base. I’m not picky, just gib me more Torrens bombs.
The rest of the game passed by pretty uneventfully, despite Rafael Montero’s best efforts. Allowing two runs on three bleeder hits and a wild pitch, his struggles in a low-leverage situation were mildly maddening, especially coming off of two consecutive outings of entering a tied game with a runner on second and holding the line. It was around this time where my computer succumbed to the Pacific Northwest heat, and it frankly did me a favor; I missed quite a bit of his outing. Thank goodness for Torrens, though, whose offensive output tonight would have carried the Mariners regardless of the rest of the lineup’s contributions (fun fact: everyone in the lineup notched at least one hit. Synergy!). Besides, the run differential stayed intact thanks to a run scoring on a bobble by Tim Anderson in the eighth and a Mitch Haniger single in the top of the ninth to put a bow on things. Paul Sewald was summoned for “closing” duties, casually struck out the side, and spirits were once again lifted in Seattle. Once again, the team gave an elite starter the business in their home park, and all of a sudden, grabbing a series win against one of the best teams in the American League doesn’t seem so crazy. Lance Lynn is tentatively going for the Sox tomorrow (storm is a comin’ in Chicago), and his array of fastballs has catapulted him to the upper echelon of starting pitchers this year. But hey, if the Mariners can get to Carlos Rodón, upper 90s fastball and Frisbee slider and all, who’s to say they can’t see right through Lynn’s bag of tricks? Whatever the outcome may be, I’m awaiting with bated breath.