From the moment the lineup cards were revealed, this game had all the hallmarks of a finishing blow, of a loss that would epitomize the Mariners inexorable regression into the abyss of the standings. Each out that passed by seemed like the one to point to and say “here’s where they lost it.”
I think it could be argued that there are more negative takeaways from this game than positive ones, but I won’t make that claim. That kind of thinking will have you watching a team succeed with gritted teeth, concerned with doing things “the right way.”
And this victory was not achieved “the right way” by any means. Scoring one run (a walked-in run, nonetheless) through 8.1 innings as your pitching staff allows only one through a full 9 should probably be a criminal offense in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but they got the only runs they needed, and that’s ultimately all that matters.
Tyler Anderson, who seems to be the ever-seaworthy yet modest ship he was sold as continued his streak of 5+ IP starts, getting one more out than necessary. With a little help from Jarred Kelenic in center, he allowed just one run off a sac fly in a jam he both created and solved, and only threatened to allow another when Adolis Garcia reached third on a double and a balk (!?).
Joe Smith, another ol’ reliable type thus far into his Mariners career, continued his scoreless outing streak with a strikeout and an absurd running catch in foul territory that turned Cal into a pumpkin:
There’s something profoundly mythic in this sequence: the primordial Child reaching out with all the hope in the world and falling short, the archetypal Parent handling it with an impossible ease.
Sadler, Castillo, and Steckenrider held it down from there, resembling something of the Mariners bullpen we’ve become accustomed to this season.
In other words, the pitching staff handed a victory to the offense, who politely declined at every turn. It wasn’t until a shaky Taylor Hearn forced them to score that they plated a run, and the disappointment was palpable.
“How could we let them do this?” Jake Bauers was heard complaining after the run scored, forcing Scott Servais to sub in the slightly less despondent Luis Torrens at DH for the next inning.
For the next five frames, each team played hot potato with the concept of winning, tossing the odds back and forth with nary a thought spared for the fans’ desire to watch competitive baseball.
Come the sixth frame after the game was tied off a bases-loaded walk for the second night in a row, the wind shifted.
Jarred, with a speed the world doesn’t want him to have, stretched a base hit through the gap into a double, setting the Mariners up for something they so clearly hadn’t been interested in all night: victory.
Cal confirmed this as he struck out swinging, and Jake Fraley, who had an oh-fer up to that point, tried his best to end it then and there. That is, until he saw Ibáñez fail to reach his dribbler in time and he kicked into gear to reach first safely.
What followed was a sequence of events caused by something that, like bees flying, should not be permitted by the laws of nature. Something so profoundly at odds with what we know about the fabric of reality that it chills me to my core.
On the day of the installation of Edgar’s statue, the man who stands alone atop the designated hitter mountain, the Mariners and Rangers chose to spit on his legacy by joining a minuscule, ignominious cabal of clubs. A group of teams who, despite being permitted by the rules of the American League to use a cheat code, have in a single game both elected to place their freely-given designated hitter in the very spot in the order previously reserved for the pitchers they replaced.
Unseemly, to say the least.
Tonight, one of those hitters performed so poorly at their only job (to hit the baseball) that a replacement was subbed in.
And thank God for that.
This was ruled a single because official scorers lack for sentimentality and romance, if not encyclopedic baseball knowledge, but we all know it was a double.
Did it have any right to happen? No. Did it happen the right way? Absolutely not. Did it need to happen this way? No way. Is Luis Torrens in any way comparable to Edgar Martinez? Not a chance.