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Seattle Mariners win important baseball game the only way they know how, beat Angels 6-5

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* extremely Dave Sims voice * Ohhh baby!

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Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Eight games to go. 85 wins. Two games back from the Wild Card.

The 2021 Mariners don’t carry the Cinderella Story flash and success of the San Francisco Giants this season, who tonight captured their 100th win of the year after a preseason that saw many struggle to envision them ending the season at .500. But theirs is remarkable all the same.

Seattle opened the season against those Giants nearly six months ago with this starting lineup:

Mitch Haniger (RF)

Ty France (DH)

Kyle Seager (3B)

Evan White (1B)

Taylor Trammell (CF)

Dylan Moore (2B)

Jake Fraley (LF)

Tom Murphy (C)

J.P. Crawford (SS).

Marco Gonzales got the start, and Casey Sadler, Will Vest, Rafael Montero and Anthony Misiewicz came on in relief. They beat San Francisco 8-7 on a walk-off walk in the 10th inning.

Tonight’s lineup featured similar names, albeit with some hefty positional and lineup shuffling:

J.P. Crawford (SS)

Ty France (1B)

Mitch Haniger (RF)

Kyle Seager (3B)

Luis Torrens (DH)

Abraham Toro (2B)

Jarred Kelenic (CF)

Tom Murphy (C)

Dylan Moore (LF)

Logan Gilbert, who was lurking in AAA on that Opening Night, got the start this evening and a corps of Joe Smith, Anthony Misiewicz, Drew Steckenrider and Paul Sewald held everything together. They beat the Angels 6-5 for their 33rd one-run victory of the season.

I looked at this team on paper prior to the start of the season, and could the potential for a future where we spent half a year forced to write about a team that couldn’t crack 70 wins. The starting rotation looked terrifying, the bullpen deeply suspicious, and the offense just seemed like a pixelated mirage of talent.

It’s not that everything went according to plan - though the Mariners not tearing into the plan with their Classic Mariners brand of destruction has certainly helped. Instead they’ve just...well, they’ve played like a team. “Fun Differential” and team chemistry aside, Seattle has rarely had to weather an org-wide slump. When one or two guys struggled, one or two guys stepped in and stepped up. Unlike in previous years of precipitous postseason contention, the Mariners haven’t leaned on singular stars to power them through to the end. Instead, they’ve taken turns shouldering the burden of decades of futility.

Tonight, Scott Servais pushed Logan Gilbert to the brink - and then Jose Rojas tried to shove him off the edge with an 11-pitch at-bat in the sixth. Gilbert looked visibly labored in that final battle, and his pitch count closed out at a career-high 110 pitches. He was tagged with the two earned runs Smith gave up later on that inning, but the offense answered with two more runs in the next frame, including this AngeLOLs fielder’s choice.

Unfortunately, the offense petered out from there, Ty France seemingly exhausted after his first inning heroics.

In response, the bullpen powered on. Despite some waning strength and noticeable weariness, the ‘pen has continued to protect their miniscule leads with the ferocity of a mother bear. Steckenrider gave up an RBI single to one of Misiewicz’s baserunners in the seventh, but beyond that they shut the Angels down - though not without a nausea-inducing bottom nine.

The Chaos Ball that the Opening Day shenanigans sparked so many months ago hasn’t gotten any easier for my delicate constitution to tolerate, but here’s hoping we can all ride it out just a little bit longer.