Chaos ball giveth and chaos ball taketh, and tonight it was pure taketh. Really, though, this wasn’t even chaos ball so much as it was a bland, boring baseball game that happened to go to extras, played between two teams that seemed intent on matching each other’s—what’s the opposite of a frenetic pace? Robotic, maybe? Just one where each team seems to be going through the motions en route to one of the least exciting extra-innings games I can remember. Maybe, much like Jonah Heim Against the Mariners is the new Kyle Seager Against the Rangers, Tuesday Nights Against the Rangers are the new Tuesday Nights Against the A’s.
The Mariners were slow to get anything going off Rangers starter Kolby Allard; other than a hit batter (Toro, somehow, not Ty France), the Mariners were hitless through their first ten batters with five of the ten either making outs on the first pitch or getting into 0-2 counts. They finally got on the board in the fourth, when Mitch Haniger—who had just missed one earlier, a deep flyout with a .920 xBA—finally got his revenge, followed right after by a solo shot for Seager to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead:
But that would be all the offense the Mariners could muster on the evening, until the ninth. They had opportunities; some came in that very inning, when a clearly shaken Allard—who notably hates pitching in T-Mobile Park—allowed a single to Ty France, but instead of keeping the conga line moving, Toro, Torrens, and Kelenic made the next three outs consecutively. The team would go on to squander a leadoff double from Tom Murphy in the fifth, squander a single from Ty France in the sixth, squander a Murphy walk in the seventh, squander a leadoff single from Haniger in the eighth, and finally, and devastatingly, squandered a bases-loaded, no-outs opportunity in the ninth—yes, they managed to score the tying run on a bases-loaded walk as Spencer Patton, not an 18th-century landed nobleman known for his witty light verse but the 2021 Texas Rangers’ closer, could not find a handle on his command; after the tying run crossed the plate, however, they proceeded to make three straight outs to send the game to extras where a key bases-loaded GIDP from Toro ensured the Mariners would once again fall to the toothless Rangers.
Despite the loss, it’s hard to pin this one on the pitching. Logan Gilbert kept the Rangers in check, allowing just two runs over six innings. One came on a home run off a first-pitch ambush swing at a poorly-located fastball to Jason Martin in the second, giving the Rangers an early 1-0 lead, although Gilbert rebounded to work the next two innings cleanly. He’d end with six innings of five-hit, two-run ball with five strikeouts, and probably could have gone deeper into the game if not for a blown call by home plate umpire Malachi Moore, who had an adventurous strike zone all evening, that turned what should have been a five-pitch at-bat into an eleven-pitch at-bat in the fifth. That at-bat came after Jonah Heim had already singled, so when D.J. Peters, a longtime Dodger farmhand whose name is well-known to anyone who’s followed the Arkansas Travelers for the past few seasons, hit a ball over Haniger’s head, Heim was able to just sneak home as the ball squirted out of Tom Murphy’s glove, meaning the Mariners were threatened to be beaten by this guy for a third straight game:
That hit, by the way, broke an 0-for-20 for Heim—his last hit had been that walkoff homer against these same Mariners. Baseball is fun.
Anthony Misiewicz worked a six-pitch inning to maintain the tie in the seventh and Diego Castillo got some big assists from his infield defense—two nice plays by Seager and one diving stab by France, who had an especially nice night at first tonight—for a clean eighth, but Paul Sewald got Adolis García’d in the ninth for a go-ahead Texas run. As noted above, the Mariners did tie it up in the ninth, while wildly squandering their own opportunities, but Eric Swanson allowed two singles scoring both the Manfred runner and a good-old fashioned one to give Texas the 5-3 edge for yet another extra-innings victory. Ty France singled home the Mariners’ own Manfred runner to make it 5-4, but that was as close as they’d get.
After a disappointing showing against the Yankees, this is exactly the kind of game I’d hoped not to see from the Mariners: three-plus hours of truly uninspired, old-soda-flat play, coupled with an inability to put away a floundering Texas team on both sides of the ball. It’s been fun playing around with Wild Card notions, but playoff teams just cannot have games like this. I’d be embarrassed if the Mariners played this badly on a national stage; just watching it in our little corner of the Northwest is bad enough. While I find it both annoying and ironic that seemingly any non-game time when I turn on the radio for the Flagship Station of the Seattle Mariners they are talking about anything but the Seattle Mariners—does anyone really need to know where the Seahawks’ third-string defensive end is lining up on the field in training camp?—games like this are a good reminder that Seattle can’t be a baseball town until they have a team worthy of making it into one.