It felt good.
With the balmy Seattle sunshine beaming down to craft a perfect Sunday afternoon, the Seattle Mariners won the most important game of their season for the third day in a row. Even tomorrow’s game, and the totality of the three game set against the AL West-leading Houston Astros, won’t be quite as consequential as this three-of-four from the Oakland Athletics. They emerged victorious by a single run yet again, conserving every speck of powder and constricting their briny riggings around the hearts and chests of all 21,501 fans in attendance and tens of thousands more watching from afar. A 4-3 win, like all wins, counts the same the moment it’s in the books, even if Seattle’s allergy to blowout victories remains stressful.
Marco Gonzales had to be better than he’s been much of 2021, and despite early shakiness and continued adventures with the command of his fastball and cutter, he ground out 5.2 innings with just two runs allowed, giving Seattle a clear chance at victory. Gonzales launched a slow-mo shelling of the lower third of the strike zone and below with his changeup and curveball, while Seattle summoned all their pent-up rage at A’s lefty Cole Irvin for a two out, four-run third inning outburst that carried them over the finish line. Most vital was Kyle Seager’s bases-loaded laser single, once again showcasing Seattle’s hilarious proclivity for mashing in the absolute most important moments this year.
In Seager’s case at least, there is some logic, as Oakland cannot shift as fully, turning this low liner into a single where it might otherwise find the glove of a well-positioned defender. Following him, Luis Torrens lashed another laser as he put himself yet again on pedestal as perhaps one of Seattle’s most important hitters, particularly when facing a southpaw. The RBI single from Torrens pushed it to 3-2, before Tom Murphy blooped a ball in front of Ramon Laureano, whose staggeringly frustrating weekend in the field continued to the delight of all in attendance.
“Na-na-na-na-na-na” indeed, Dave Sims.
It was enough. A Seth Brown home run in the 7th drew things tighter, but the Mariners clenched tight through the storm, fingernails dragging wood, grime, dirt, sweat, and precious flecks of hope with them as a defensive gem from Seager and left fielder Jake Bauers all but sealed Seattle’s victory in the ninth.
Bauers, who you can see in the clip above is already dressed for a champagne shower with goggles Shaun White would be envious of, delivers an absolutely perfect throw to nab the seemingly-Monstar’d Matt Chapman and turn a first and third situation into a two-out, one on sigh of relief. The bullpen, which was forced to play a starring role in both Friday and Saturday nights’ wins, came up big again, with JT Chargois, Anthony Misiewicz, and Drew Steckinrider all working out of jams, and with Casey Sadler’s help they covered the final 3.1 innings at Marco’s pace for an absolutely massive win, drawing Seattle within just 1.5 games of a playoff spot.
Is it July? Yes. Is this team deeply flawed? Decidedly. But this is a team reasonably in the playoff hunt, with veterans performing and young players putting it together. They have addressable holes that can be augmented in a wide range of ways, upgrading themselves for the present and future. Tomorrow they will start a 25 year old rookie named Darren McCaughan in what is legitimately the most difficult first starting assignment MLB has to offer in terms of an opposing lineup. It probably won’t go well! But this club has earned help from its ownership group, casting aside that several holes Seattle faces could have been addressed with a lesser cost by being proactive instead of reactive this winter. All that can be altered now is the present, and the future, which the Mariners seem evermore determined to push together into reality right now.