Through the first five innings, I was working on a fun recap theme. But I have to pocket it for another time because this game doesn’t deserve it. This game barely deserves a recap at all. It was the worst of all worlds: It wasn’t quite bad enough, and the Mariners haven’t been quite out of it for quite long enough for this game to have been funny rather than a colossal bummer.
At least it was fun in the beginning. The Mariners sent nine men to the plate in the second inning. Suárez kicked things off with a double off the Basil Monster that Verdugo probably should have caught, but instead he crashed off the wall.
Abraham Toro, Our Beloved moved him to third by splitting Devers and Bogaerts, which feels much more miraculous than it is after watching Chapman and Bichette for three games. This brought up Dylan Moore, getting a start at shortstop while J.P. got the night off, and all DMo did with the opportunity was blast a three-run bomb over the Malachite Monster.
Fredo Corleone’s Steven Souza’s inevitable popup to the second baseman later, Frazier worked a ten-pitch walk and Ty France knocked him in with a double. Once the inning was over, Boston starter Rich Hill wouldn’t return. At first, I thought this would be a good thing, since Rich Hill was taking a thousand years between pitches, perhaps in an effort to make his 88 mph heater seem faster by comparison.
Unfortunately, while it took Rich Hill 56 pitches to record six outs, his replacement, Tanner Houck, only needed 58 pitches to get the next 12, which really wasn’t what I had in mind when I was hoping it would speed up the game. All the Mariners could muster against Houck over four innings was a Winker single and a Moore walk. Houck came into the game with a 23:12 K:BB ratio, and left with a 29:13 one. You’re welcome, Tanner. Please celebrate by shaving your facial hair.
The story of the game for Boston was indeed a Story. (I’m sorry, I’m sorry—we’re all contractually obligated to pun on his name.) When the game started, Story’s wOBA was .279. Now it’s .324. His three (3) home runs serve as a painful metaphor for the Mariners’ season so far. His first, which went out to what Fenway’s architects generously call centerfield, would only have been a home run in six of 30 MLB parks. This is what we call excuse-making. It’s sort of like how many of us have been focusing on the Mariners’ brutal strength of schedule, horrendous cluster luck, and myriad poorly timed injuries. His second, which catapulted over the Juniper Monster an inning later, was much more legitimate, and would have gone out anywhere in MLB. This is a wake up call, like the Phillies series, where even against a mediocore opponent, Seattle just couldn’t get anything going. Finally, his third, also over the Pine Monster, went out in the eighth, putting the Sox up 12-5 and the game all but offically out of reach. That’s kind of like where the Mariners find themselves now, at 17-22 and already eight games back. It’s not impossible, but it’s a hell of a hole to dig out of. Seconds after Story’s third dong, my Roku popped in to ask me if I was still watching and started a 30-second countdown to automatically turning off my TV. I considered it.
The Story’s epilogue is that he also had an RBI single, a fourth run scored, a walk, and a stolen base, all of which came during the two-inning stretch when things got stupid. George Kirby hadn’t had a great night, but for his third outing, it hadn’t been a disaster. He’d picked up three strikeouts to just one walk, and while his secondary pitches combined for just a single whiff, his fastball looked good, getting Christian Vázquez and Rafael Devers to chase heaters up out of the zone for strikeouts. But then Scott Servais did something weird.
Even though Kirby’s night was done, Servais sent him back out to the mound to throw some warm up tosses before calling in Romo. But the umpires are real sticklers for rules that don’t involve the strikezone or whether a glove’s laces count for a tag. And apparently Rule 5.10 says that if the starting pitcher crosses the foul line, that means they have to pitch to one more batter before they can be substituted. So Kirby threw exactly one pitch, which Alex Verdugo sent to the wall for a double. Scott was then allowed to bring in Romo. I understand (though was previously unaware of) the rule, but it remains a mystery why Kirby was sent out to the mound to begin with.
According to Divish, Servais was trying to buy more time for Romo, which is weird since it was the beginning of an inning and Romo had gotten up as early as the bottom of the fifth as well as having the whole top of the sixth to get loose. Good for Servais for falling on his sword, but it’s one of the most inexplicable unforced errors yet this year. Verdugo would go on to score.
Speaking of unforced errors, let us move to the following inning, when Tony Sandwiches got two outs but put runners on first and third. With Boston’s best lefty bats done, Servais went to Wyatt Mills, who proceeded to throw four straight balls to Trevor Story to load the bases. Then he threw four straight balls to Bobby Dalbec to walk in a run. Then he hit Christain Vázquez’s elbow guard, to allow another free run. It was an anti-strike performance so aggressive it would make Andrew Carnegie blush. Not to be outdone, Danny Young came in to walk in a run as well.
So to recap this recap, this game gave us (1) a dominant performance by one of the marquee free agents that Seattle didn’t land this offseason; (2) a managerial decision as confusing and ill-considered as John Travolta’s introduction of Adele Dazeem; (3) three runs allowed on free bases; and (4) a Steven Souza 0-4. RIP the Discourse.
But in spite of all, this game had Julio Rodríguez.
I feel like I’m already used to Julio playing the role of lone bright spot, seen above sending a ninth inning ball over the Seafoam Monster, adding to his two other hits (including his eighth infield hit) and cementing his first Sun Hat Award for noteworthy individual contribution. Thank you, Julio, for giving us something nice to end the game with. One of these days, Julio will hit a homer at the T, and I can’t wait for the place to go absolutely berzerk.
Back when I was working on that fun recap, I promised Connor that I’d use this photo. And while it fit the fun theme better, I’m a man of my word, so please enjoy the return of Dylan Moore’s tongue. Even when J.P. is back tomorrow, I’m hoping to see DMo in right field.