Look, I’ve been joking about CHAOS BALL since April, but at this point I’m sort of out of jokes and more considering whether there’s a way to invest in Chaos Ball as Bitcoin, because the Mariners are headed to the moon, baby. Did they have any business winning this game? Possibly, no! Probably, even! Their starter didn’t have his good stuff and got bounced in the fourth, while Oakland had their All-Star on the mound. The offense was powered by three Mitch Hanigers in a trenchcoat. The home plate area at T-Mobile park needs to be swept for vengeful ghosts mad about housing prices in Oakland. But however it happened, the Mariners won. The Mariners...won?
Gilbert came out, as he has recently, guns blazing: he got Mark Canha to an 0-2 count with 97 MPH heat before striking him out looking. Things got a little dicey for LoGi when he made a mistake to Tony Kemp, who laced a 96 MPH fastball that caught too much of the plate into the right field corner, but Big Bert rebounded to strike out Matt Olson and then made a nice play on a comebacker from Jed Lowrie to end the inning.
Gilbert was sharp in his second inning as well, striking out Laureano looking, Mitch Moreland on a weak half-swing, and then getting Chapman to fly out easily. Unfortunately, the wheels came off for Gilbert in the third, when the A’s were able to wait out some poor command from Logan, who didn’t have his secondary command from the jump, getting into protracted battles with the young hurler. That’s something that we saw some in the minors, on days when Gilbert didn’t have his good command: Gilbert getting into long battles with batters and usually winning them but doing a lot of damage to his pitch count in the process. Today he damaged both his pitch count (41 pitches in that inning alone) and the scoreboard, as the A’s took a 3-1 lead on four singles and a walk, taking advantage of some poor command as Gilbert fell behind in counts and found he had to rely almost exclusively on his fastball, which was down to 94-95 in that inning. J.T. Chargois had to come in to clean things up to end the inning and get the final out as Gilbert’s pitch count spiraled into the 70s. It was a disappointing outing after Gilbert had put together such a strong string of games to begin his young MLB career, to say the least, but that’s why they say development isn’t linear.
Mirroring Gilbert’s night, the offense also got off to a strong start and then had the wheels fall off. Haniger doubled in the bottom of the first and then Ty France brought him home with a nice piece of hitting, redirecting a fastball running away from him through the 3⁄4 hole for an RBI single. Cal Raleigh, who’s somehow hitting fifth now? came up with two outs and a man on, but to his credit went to a full count and worked a walk; Luis Torrens also worked a full count with a ten-pitch at-bat, pushing Bassitt to 30+ pitches, but ultimately struck out.
From there, things got much easier for Bassitt, and much harder for the Mariners batters. Bassitt blew through the soft underbelly of the Mariners lineup 1-2-3 in the second; he gave up a home run to Haniger, who had just missed one earlier, in the third, but otherwise had a clean inning. That Haniger home run did come with the hilarious spectacle of Ramón Laureano literally climbing into the ‘pen to try to rob it and completely melt down when he couldn’t, though, so to me, that home run counted double.
Forget fan interference, this was straight-up player interference. Laureano got so far up in the ‘pen he was given a White Claw and a trial membership at Gold’s Gym. And ooooh he was SALTY about not catching that ball:
(Unfortunately on the scoreboard it only counted for one.)
J.T. Chargois, continuing on behind Logan Gilbert, worked a clean inning in the fourth (with the help of a double play that erased a walk to Elvis Andrus, miraculously healed from his hand contusion the other night). Anthony Misiewicz should have had a clean inning to start off the fifth, but J.P. mishandled an easy grounder from Canha and threw it into the Mariners dugout to effectively saddle Misiewicz with a leadoff double. J.P. made good after that, leaping to catch a soft lineout from Tony Kemp, and Misiewicz again got a groundball out on his curveball getting Olson to ground out, but that put a runner on third with the perpetually-annoying Jed Lowrie up. However, J.P. again made good on his earlier goof, snagging yet another grounder on the curveball and making a nifty throw to first for the out.
Meanwhile, the Mariners batters hung in there against Bassitt. Jarred Kelenic worked a walk off Bassitt in the fourth, and while it didn’t result in any runs crossing the plate, it did increase his pitch count. Jake Bauers led off the fifth with a nice line-drive single, and then, after a J.P. Crawford strikeout (his second of the night, yikes emoji), Mitch Haniger came up. Bassit smartly started Haniger out with a slow curve at the bottom of the zone that Haniger flailed at wildly, then followed that with a slider Haniger laid off of and a changeup off the plate he reached after but was able to foul off. Next Bassitt sailed a pitch high out of the zone to draw the count even. What would he throw next?
Bassitt tried to go back to the slider, but whoops, it slid right into the middle of the plate, and Haniger was ready for it:
That Mitch Mash made it Oakland 3, Mitch Hanigers of Seattle 4.
Armed with a one-run lead, it was up to the bullpen to hold off the advancing hordes of various Matts and Marks. Casey Sadler, fresh from his rehab assignment, looked untouchable in his inning of work, spotting his fastball effortlessly on the edges of the zone (with a big assist from some nice framing by Cal) and spinning that beautiful curveball in an 11-pitch inning with back-to-back strikeouts of Moreland and Chapman. Drew Steckenrider had the seventh and started off with a three-pitch easy flyout of Andrus before getting ahead of Aramis Garcia 0-2, who then took advantage of a pitch that caught just a little too much of the middle of the plate to sneak a game-tying home run barely over the right-field wall, just inside the foul pole: a 95 MPH EV, and an xBA of just .290. Tie game. Booo. BOOOO, I say.
Deolis Guerra got three flyball outs in the sixth, but led off the seventh by giving up a single to Jake Bauers (again) and was promptly replaced by Sergio Romo, who, if you will remember, steamrollered over the Mariners in Friday’s loss. JP promptly lined into a double play and Mitch Haniger couldn’t drag the corpse of this team’s offense across the plate one more time, striking out to end any threat of scoring in that inning, and things felt...not great, especially after Romo came back out in the eighth to dismiss the heart of the Mariners lineup 1-2-3.
The Mariners sent Paul Sewald out for a second straight night of work in the eighth, but he dismissed the A’s quickly, striking out Matt Olson and Jed Lowrie (on three pitches for Lowrie), and getting Laureano to groundout. Kendall Graveman, also working on back-to-back nights, was just as effective, getting two groundouts and a strikeout of his own.
But. Chaos Ball is here, and for whatever reason, she really hates Lou Trivino. Trivino started his night by giving up a leadoff single to Luis Torrens, who literally just stuck his bat out against 96 and was rewarded with a base hit, then walked Kelenic (who quietly had another good at-bat tonight. Yay Jarred.). Shed Long came up to pinch hit, theoretically to sacrifice bunt, and struck out looking instead, a call I don’t love since Trivino was struggling a little to throw strikes, as witnessed by him going to 3-0 against Bauers in the next at-bat. Also filed under things I don’t love: having J.P. Crawford, who is on an ice cold tear lately, swinging, as he tapped into a fielder’s choice at home for the second out of the inning. That brought Mitch Haniger up with two outs. Could Mitch Magic happen again? It seems like so much to ask.
Too much to ask, says Chaos Ball, and asks to give Mitchell Evan Haniger, who has done so much, a little helping hand.
And where there was only one set of footprints, that was where Mitch Haniger once again carried this team. And where there was only one set of footprints and they were doing the Charleston over flaming coals on top of an active volcano with a bunch of hungry hippopotamuses at the bottom, that’s where Chaos Ball carried us.