Some days, watching these Seattle Mariners makes me want to go stand outside in the rain. It did not help matters that tonight’s game in Detroit was delayed thirty minutes by waves of rain that continued through the first few innings. As the video feed blurred around Marco Gonzales, a slurry of 88 mph fastballs over the heart of the plate sunk the Mariners early, and despite several opportunities, Seattle was unable to reach into their bag of BABIP w/RISP tricks once again in a 5-3 loss.
Rehabbing Marco Gonzales in the majors is understandable with a big league club running a six-man rotation, down two of its depth starters, and having chosen not to sign any other Triple-A starter depth until a few weeks into the minor league season. It does mean an unfortunate risk of nights like tonight, where Gonzales had around a 70-80 pitch leash and looked rusty once again. Detroit Tigers catcher Eric Haase may be the hottest hitter not named Patrick Wisdom on the planet right now, and the hirsute righty did go deep on a reasonably located changeup, but Gonzales spent most of the evening putting his sinker in mortal peril.
Seattle might have been spared a run or two with Evan White in the lineup, as a few near-misses by Ty France on leaps and dives pushed innings deeper, but J.P. Crawford also was his usual Gold Glove self, skying for a laser line drive in the first and nabbing multiple slow choppers and turning them into certain outs with his dependable arm.
Speaking of Crawford, there was no clearer offensive star Tuesday evening, as his 3-for-4 with a walk was a mixture of well-placed, well-struck, and well-watched work at the plate. We’ve seen Crawford ebb and flow offensively, but he’s currently more or less an average-to-slightly above-average hitter and one of the league’s best defenders. With Kyle Lewis on the shelf and so many of Seattle’s youths yet to show extended success, Crawford’s continued excellence is a kindled flame Mariners fans should hold close to their breast, nurturing his growth as other sparks hopefully ignite around him.
Two youngsters did indeed provide promise, as Shed Long Jr. returned for his first game of the year and lashed a line drive double that short hopped the wall in left, albeit with an assist from an adventurous route by LF Akil Baddoo. Taylor Trammell cracked a double of his own in the 8th, giving Seattle their best late spark, but it was not to be. The recent slumps of Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager, along with the hole created by the absence of Lewis, have deflated Seattle’s already droopy offense. It’s nice to see Long and Trammell in the lineup, with less loop in their swings than they’ve shown in prior stints it appears, and I’m excited for more. Still, there’s no real solution impending for the offense writ large until the established players start seeing the ball drop more. It’s not too far off - Haniger was robbed of multiple doubles tonight by excellent outfield defense, while Seattle gave a run away thanks to playing Donovan Walton in left field, and Seager clobbered a possible two-run home run just foul late tonight, but close isn’t good enough. The Mariners have been close a lot, and they were again tonight. No Black Tuesday here this evening, just a somewhat Bleak one, overcast, scouring the sky for sunbreaks that may be hours or years away.