This morning before the game, I decided to make some cookies, peanut butter-chocolate no bake cookies to be precise. Having grown up primarily with my grandparents, it was a type of cookie I had devoured on several occasions, as it was a favorite of my Memom’s to make. Today was the first day since her passing that I actually made the recipe on my own. For many reasons this was a rough week for me, for many of us, and I didn’t mind the little pick-me-up of some sweets before some afternoon baseball. Perhaps the Mariners should have started their day off with some sweets of fond memories as well, as they were unable to fully pick themselves up in today’s game, and ultimately fell to the Astros 1-2.
Their week however, was decidedly more mixed than rough. and their three game series against the Astros was, surprisingly, overall a bright spot. In the first two games of the series both starting pitchers went seven innings, with Chris Flexen only giving up one run on Friday, and Logan Gilbert spinning seven of only four hit, no run ball on Saturday. Marco Gonzales, not wanting to be left out, threw 96 pitches across 7.1 innings, allowing only five hits and two earned runs. Wanting to change things up from his teammates though, Marco did exactly that, by throwing his changeup more than any other pitch.
The first of those runs came from from a first pitch ambush from early American League rookie of the year favorite Jeremy Peña, who sent it 101.3 MPH off of his bat in the second inning, and over the wall in right-center. The second came in the eighth inning, technically pinned on Marco for having allowed Martin Maldonado to battle out a double before leaving the game. In reality was more due to the fact that Paul Sewald took over and seemingly forgot how to throw strikes. He did manage to get José Altuve to ground out in only two pitches to start his outing, but aside from the pitch that induced the groundout his first eight pitches were all thrown for balls. This meant Michael Brantley was walked, intentionally on the fourth pitch, followed by Bregman starting with a 3-0 count, then falling 3-2, but remaining disciplined enough to draw the walk on the sixth pitch. This left the bases loaded with two outs, and gave the opportunity for Yordan Álvarez to do this:
All in all, that situation could have ended much worse, and to Sewald’s credit, he immediately got ahead of Yuli Gurriel in the count and induced a fly out to end the inning, limiting the damage to one run. In a game where both starting pitchers are on top of their game though, that one run made all the difference. The Astros converted their mere six hits into two runs; the Mariners converted their mere five hits into one run.
Giving credit where it is due, Luis Garcia was dealing today, locating his pitches well and making very few mistakes. The M’s one run today came off of Garcia however, when they played some rather smart small ball. Luis Torrens lead off with a single to right-center, and was advanced to second on a well laid bunt by Taylor Trammell. It was good enough for Torrens to come around to home when Ty France did very Ty France Things, starting the count 3-0 and then punishing Garcia by extending his hitting streak to eleven games with a grounder through the gap to right field.
Speaking of Ty France Things, he was also hit by a pitch today on the elbow, because of course he was.
You can probably already tell from the ending score, but today’s offense was a shadow of itself from the previous two games. The Mariners were only 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, and did not manage to get a single extra base hit. Jesse Winker had an 0-4 day leading off, as did Julio Rodríguez in the three-hole. It’s the type of top of the order production, or lack thereof, that can be a difference maker in games like this.
The Mariners did come close to scoring again in the bottom of the ninth inning, after they managed to load the bases with only one out from a J.P. Crawford walk, an Adam Frazier single, and a Mike Ford walk. Unfortunately the rally ended when Luis Torrens hit an infield ground ball to induce the double play and the end of the game. I am absolutely biased in that I believe there to be a better bat in Torrens than what he’s shown this year, and that I think his improved defense behind the dish greatly increases his value to the team either way, but even if that were not the case I would discourage you from laying unfair blame on him for tonight’s loss. After all, he was the only runner to come around and score.
Also of note was a one inning appearance from Diego Castillo who has been working his way back into the good graces of Seattle fans, this time setting down the ‘Stros 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, including striking out Jose Siri.
My Memom is responsible for many of my loves, and in general led by example on how to love with a full heart, and how to forgive with one. It is because of her that I love cooking, and after many nights spent in the living room with her listening to Niehaus on the radio while watching the game on television, she is partly responsible for my love of the Seattle Mariners. A feisty but small Catholic woman, I never heard her swear, except when the Mariners were playing, and even then only after a few glasses of wine. “Damn Mariners!” she would exclaim, only to then immediately cover her mouth and apologize. Like the cookies she taught me to make, this series against Houston was actually a treat, one where we outscored them 13-3, and won the series.
I know my grandmother would not be swearing at the Mariners today, but rather choosing the path of forgiveness. This is a fun team to watch lately, with important memories being made for the players and the fans. This weekend, and yes, even today, the Mariners continue to show that they are not “the same old Mariners”.