The Mariners continued to play their own specific spin on Manfred Ball tonight, although not in the fun extra-innings type way. Through three innings of tonight’s contest, there had been 139 combined pitches to get the first eighteen outs. It was...not a sterling brand of baseball, all around, with each team trying to give each other a chance to win like a game of draft position hot potato, although when the dust had settled, the Mariners had dropped yet another winnable game to an objectively poor team, as Texas looked at the lineups, noted the Mariners were down to just one Kyle, and decided to take out some long-pent-up Lone Star State frustration on the Seattle Mariners, who have so often bullied the only AL West team reliably worse than them over these past few seasons.
Tonight was Marco’s first start since June 20, and his first start since having a brand-new baby, and Marco would be the last person who wants excuses made for him but it’s hard not to think he has to be exhausted, physically and emotionally, running through emotions faster and harder than Jessie Spano (link for those of you born in the mid-90s and later). Whatever it was, Marco did not have his good command tonight, and when Marco doesn’t have his good command, bat things happen. [I meant “bad” things but you know, let’s let that typo stand.]
Here is Marco’s pitch chart from tonight. It looks like something his newborn might leave in her diaper.
Look at all those pitches leaking into the heart of the plate. Bad! Marco still ended with a strike-to-ball percentage of around 60%, but also it took him 81 pitches to get through 3.1 innings, and he walked two batters over that time span while giving up seven runs, six earned, thanks largely to three homers, two of which came in one inning, and two of which were hit by John Hicks, who apparently finally tapped into the power of being a former Mariner. This is bad, all of it bad, but you know what, we’re going to give Marco a mulligan for this outing. Marco is allowed to have a bad day on the mound after the birth of his first child. He’s propped up this sagging ballclub enough times that we can gift him that.
What is more frustrating, to me, is that the Mariners offense had chances to pull out of this spiral, and each of time, like Bartleby, decided they preferred not to. They put runners on with back-to-back singles in the second, but there were two outs and Taylor Trammell was utterly bamboozled by Jordan Lyles and struck out. Again in the third, J.P. Crawford led off with a single before Lyles lost his command for a bit, hitting Haniger (on the triceps, just a graze, he’s fine) and then walking Seager and then France back-to-back to force in a run. Unfortunately if you’ve been watching this team when they have the bases loaded and no outs, you know that isn’t the gift you think it might be, as Fraley popped out weakly, Moore struck out, and then Jake Bauers, who seems to be eyeing up Justin Smoak’s King of Warning Track Power Crown, flew out to end any threat. The Mariners pushed Lyles to deep counts, but none so deep as his own manager, who for the second straight night allowed his starter to throw over 100 pitches—124, in fact—in order to keep Texas’s disasterpen at bay as long as possible. That’s a thing the Mariners should have exploited. They did not.
The Mariners had another chance in the 8th when Joe Barlow replaced Dennis Santana. Barlow walked Seager, and then gave up a double to Ty France that would have scored a faster runner than Seags as Eli White tried to make yet another incredible play on the ball—seriously, even with last night’s errors taken into consideration, a well-positioned Texas defense has been stealing hits from Mariners batters all series—but booted it into the corner. A sac fly from Fraley brought Seager home, but again, the Mariners couldn’t add on. Dylan Moore smacked a ball with all his mighty Disney princess-waisted might (104 EV), but right at Eli White, who I’m really developing a distaste for, and Jake Bauers struck out to end the threat.
Games like this are really kind of a litmus test for your personality type. If you want to focus on the bad, here it is:
- Marco looked bad, again, which has been a troublingly often occurrence this season;
- The offense failed to score more than a solo homer, a sac fly, and a bases-loaded walk off a middling pitcher and a bad bullpen;
- No, really, for the second straight night, the Mariners failed to make much of anything happen offensively against one of the league’s worst teams and could possibly lose this series against seriously, one of the league’s worst teams, wiping out much of the goodwill from their surprisingly fun road trip with the Yankees, who seemingly always play well in Seattle, looming on the horizon.
If you want good vibes only:
- J.P. Crawford kept his on-base streak alive at 20 games;
- Seasoned father Kyle Seager had his best night in a while, with two hits including the homer, two walks and no strikeouts;
- Rafael Montero again showed that low-leverage Montero can be a perfectly acceptable pitcher, going 2.2 innings and giving up just one hit while striking out three, all swinging! Yes, that merits an exclamation point, because missing bats is one of Montero’s biggest issues. More of this, please.
- Since everything after the fourth, basically, was garbage time, that meant hard-throwing but mercurial reliever Yohan Ramírez got a nice long look. Ramírez also allowed just one hit in three innings, struck out four and walked just one. I have such a soft spot for Yohan and his habit of pogoing off the mound in excitement when he gets a strikeout, so I really hope he can keep stringing good outings together.
Believing in this team isn’t for the faint of heart, and Michael Scott I-am-ready-to-get-hurt-again gifs can only act as armor for so long. Eventually we’ll all have to make a choice whether we’re bought in on this team or not, and with the city excited (raise your hand if you’ve gotten texts from your more casual Mariners fan friends asking things like “what is a Paul Sewald”) and fans roaring through a revitalized T-Mobile Park, it feels like that time is now. I hope tomorrow the team pays the fans back for that excitement by flipping old Bartleby on his head and saying they’d prefer yes to scoring a whole mess of runs. Please, Mariners.