Something was amiss when the Mariners pulled up to the stadium in their Mystery Machine. Playing baseball in 40 degree temperatures, two days after a game was snowed out? That’s not Target Field: it’s an Ice Castle.
You can thank today’s starting pitcher for transforming the Seattle Nine into the Scooby Gang. A couple weeks ago, the Mariners PR machine trotted out this absurd Reel:
Some guys, notably those who did not play today, had self-aware answers. Dylan Moore played by Ryan Reynolds? I can see it. Lance Gross as Taylor Trammell? That tracks. Others were more aspirational. I’m sorry Julio, but the Rock does not look like a centerfielder. But the weirdest answer came from Logan Gilbert. Shaggy from Scooby Doo? You know that’s a character, not an actor, right Logan? Honestly though, that’s exactly the kind of thing Shaggy would do.
Shaggy, whose real name is canonically Norville Rogers, by the way, is a coward who overcomes his fears. That’s a lot like what happened today. In the first inning, Shaggy was pitching from fear, relying too much on his fastball. He caught Byron Buxton looking, but Arraez tagged a middle-middle heater for a solo homerun. When he was throwing his offspeed stuff, he lacked confidence and conviction, like he was scared, and that’s how he walked Carlos Correa. He then threw all fastballs to Polanco, which he somehow got away with. And after a terrible pickoff attempt that sent Ty France to the infield grass, borne, it sure seemed, of jitters, he got Kiriloff to strike out. But something strange was afoot. The ball got behind Murphy and stuck under the home plate umpire, and Kiriloff was called safe at first with the first base umpire signaling that France came off the bag attempting to corral Murphy’s throw.
After using his challenge in the first inning for the second game in a row, Servais prevailed when replay footage showed that France had gotten his foot back in time. It was a real scare though.
In the second inning, Shaggy lucked into two outs on four pitches. But then, after Jeffers flicked a slider into right for a hit, he got scared of his secondaries again. Nick Gordon, Dee’s brother, worked an 11-pitch at bat for a single, and then a Buxton HBP loaded the bases. Luckily, Pete Woodworth showed up with some Scooby Snacks, taking a mound visit to advise our hero to mix it up and throw his secondaries with conviction. It worked. Gilbert came back with some courage, and got Arraez to fly out harmlessly to left. Shaggy outran the Ice Castle’s monster in a near miss.
That kicked off a string of ten batters retired in a row by Gilbert, which would be extended by clean innings from Misiewicz and Romo. In the third inning, Shaggy got as many whiffs (six) as he’d had through the first 11 batters he faced. He had a particularly impressive sequence to Polanco, getting him to swing and miss first on a slider, then a fastball, and finally on a very tight changeup.
Logan Gilbert, Nasty Slider and Changeup.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 9, 2022
6Ks thru 4 pic.twitter.com/0Qt3qItINy
Zoinks, indeed, Logan. Zoinks, indeed.
Shaggy ended the day with 5 IP, 7 K, 1 BB, 3 H, and just a single run scored. For bearing down (and speeding up, working much more quickly), Gilbert earns today’s Sun Hat Award for individual contribution to the game. Of course, if he’d just read Michael Ajeto’s first piece at FiveThirtyEight, he wouldn’t have needed the mound visit. But that’s nitpicking.
Paranormal activity haunted the Ice Castle all afternoon. The strike zone from Marty Foster (yes, that Marty Foster), for instance. Here’s what Julio’s first at bat looked like:
Julio Rodríguez ꓘ's in his first at-bat today, with two of those strikes called on the outside: pic.twitter.com/N4ogmVXir3— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) April 9, 2022
And here’s a scene from Julio’s second strikeout looking. In this scene, Julio’s mom is the townspeople’s reaction to the apparent monster.
The monster seemed to show up again in the sixth, when Kelenic, who’d somehow managed to work a walk off a lefty was picked off on what LL staffers are telling me is clearly an uncalled balk, but I don’t know the balk rule well enough to know whether I’m just being hazed with them trying to get me to write that. Jarred certainly seems to have thought this was a balk.
He never stood a chance pic.twitter.com/TdDKWfezZj— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) April 9, 2022
Was that a balk?
This poll is closed
I have no idea, but I trust Jarred
Or what about the spectral sequence of events in the seventh inning. Joe Smith, who puts the “old” in “old friend,” began with Julio’s third time caught looking, though this time, in fairness, it was legitimate. But right after came two infield hits in a row. The first one by JP, so, you know, fine. But the second was from Tom Murphy. A Tom Murphy infield hit? Immediately after another infield hit? Something was up. The monster showed up again when Adam Frazier followed that up with a bloop into right that somehow turned into the ol’ 9-6 fielder’s choice when Murphy couldn’t figure out if the ball would land on the grass or not. Something spooky going on, for sure.
Weird monsters that needed their masks pulled off were showing up all over the place today:
New Rays mascot?! IDK how I feel about the human legs... pic.twitter.com/30pJRs3PUm— Aaron Yorke (@AaronPYorke) April 9, 2022
But our gang discovered the identity of the Ice Castle’s monster in the bottom of the eighth. Andrés Muñoz came in trying to protect a precarious 2-1 lead, but walked his first batter, and then the supposed monster did something that appeared simply not of this world.
Say it with me in the Velma voice: By-ron Bux-ton! There’s no monster at all; just Byron Buxton in a mask, scheming to hit the incentives in his one-of-a-kind contract extension. Now all the Scooby Gang had to do was set an elaborate trap to reveal the mystery in the final act/ninth inning.
Laying a trap requires patience. So allow me a word about that. Anticipation can ruin you. The tweeters rising and rising and rising and rising, you can go out of your mind waiting for the bass to drop. Entering the meeting room on the day of the big presentation, you can get a bitter taste in your mouth–adrenaline taking over your system as you try to stay calm. Working up the nerve for the first kiss of a new romance, you can find it easier to let the moment pass. How must Julio Rodríguez have felt his first eight trips to a big-league plate? A lifetime working towards a goal, the hype train fully without brakes, but with no payoff. And the build getting ever bigger after each of three strikeouts to begin the day. And then,
Sorry if this recap took a while to get up. I was watching that clip over and over. And now, if I ever see Julio in public, I’m going to yell “Tyler Duffey!” and he’ll know I was there back when.
Look how fast he gets into second base: that’s elite speed right there, and it led directly to the Mariners’ win as a series of hijinks from Daphne (JP), Fred (Frazier), and Velma (Ty) would follow. JP moving him to third on a groundout, which would have been a double play if Julio had stopped at first. Adam Frazier then gave a mirror image with a hustle double of his own, driving in Julio on his first hit as a Mariner. Finally, Ty France knocked in Frazier on a ball slapped the other way to take the lead 4-3, which is where it would stay after Diego Castillo shut down the bottom of the ninth. That’s Chaos Ball, baby. Which is just another way of Byron Buxton muttering to himself that he would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.