I started thinking about Charlie Brown in the top of the 9th. When Margot made contact with the fastball Sewald left right over the middle of the plate and it was clear that the Mariners’ lead was no more, I remembered Charlie Brown’s yellow torso flying into the air as Lucy yanked away the football, just like she does every time. When the disappointment fully hit, the realization that the moment we’ve been waiting for can happen and it still won’t be enough, that pain comes with no guarantee of a payoff, I felt Sally’s classic line with my whole heart:
And then I remembered the whole point of Charlie Brown: that disappointment and joy are what it is to be human in this world and it’s only by letting ourselves feel them that we stay human. So, in that spirit, let’s recap today’s Mariners game.
From the start the game didn’t go as expected. Logan Gilbert came into the day MLB’s ERA leader by a long shot, carrying on his shoulders the team’s hopes to staunch the flow of losses. He’s been the Mariners’ most dominant and consistent pitcher so far this year, but his command wasn’t quite as sharp today. Gilbert missed high more often than he has in his previous starts and gave the Rays several pitches right up the middle to hit, which they did. After two innings, Gilbert had thrown 56 pitches, given up three runs on five singles, struck out three, and walked two.
He also threw a lot of very good pitches today and recovered well and with apparent maturity, pitching three more innings including a 1-2-3 third and fourth. While it was certainly painful to watch him battle, much of that was a result of the pain of the last several games and the anticipation of his brilliance, rather than a result of anything truly concerning in his performance tonight. As Kate tweeted, Gilbert faced the Rays in his last outing a week ago, so it’s not terribly surprising that they figured out how to get to him more effectively this week.
The Mariners offense showed signs of life early on, with Frazier hitting a leadoff double to right field in the first, setting Suarez up to knock him in with his first of two home runs today. Suarez had a great day offensively, going two-for-three with two walks in addition to the two homers.
Frazier, Winker, and JRod also had multi-hit games, and as a team the M’s walked six times while striking out four (as compared to the Rays’ four and ten, respectively). In the 4th the M’s retook the lead with an exciting walk-double-sac fly-walk-single sequence, the culmination of which was a hit by Dylan Moore that feels like years ago, but it must have been exciting because it earned two exclamation points in my notes! I also noted Julio’s continued patience at the plate as he drew another walk, which I find to be such a support to his ability to contribute despite the roller coaster of rookiedom.
The top of the fifth is when things really started getting weird. There were a good several minutes where everything was pure chaos, but not the fun kind. In part this was because the broadcast missed Arozarena’s at bat (including his double) because they were Facetiming Ken Griffey, Junior (more on that below), but then Suarez committed a strange throwing error before throwing out the runner at third at the same time as Murphy grabbed his arm and walked himself right off the field with the trainers. Suddenly we were in the midst of a lengthy replay review without a catcher, and I think that’s when we entered an intergalactic portal and came out the other side on a planet 99.99999% identical to this one, so similar we didn’t realize for a while that we’d even left.
The Rays got a run off a struggling Andrés Muñoz in the 7th, taking a 5-4 lead. Erik Swanson came in for the Mariners in the 8th and was the only pitcher to excel for the team in the game, striking out the side and pumped about it:
So. We arrive at the bottom of the 8th. There have been joys and certainly some relief from the impotence of the last week of games. There have been frustrations and disappointments— and at this point we’ve just learned that Tom Murphy dislocated his left shoulder and will be out for a good while. The Mariners are doing better than they’ve done all week, and yet we’re still losing, because of course we are. At this point I have a whole plan for this recap, related to 19th century waterfall-jumping and industrialization. It’s been over three hours and some things seem a little off. I write in the Slack “good god I am getting to the point with this game that I am thinking about how weird it is to have skin.”
Julio comes up. He beats out an infield grounder for a single, showing off his speed in a fashion befitting this, the Year of Ichiro. Dylan Moore is up— no! Jarred Kelenic, the much-maligned and frustrated First of Two, with the Second now on base, comes off the bench to pinch hit. And then.
Now we know we’re in another world: one where ancient prophecies come true and everything that has happened to you happened for a reason, so that this moment could happen to you now. Is that an absurd way to feel about this, Jarred’s third home run of his second MLB season? Of course it is, but we’ve dreamed of this particular home run for years and the whole country is feeling it.
"A moment like [Kelenic's home run] doesn't solve all your problems, but it feels like it could for a night." — @katienolan explaining sports fandom— Action Zach (@RealZachMason) May 7, 2022
And then the 9th inning happened and this alternate planet realized it had strayed too far from what Fate has written for the Seattle Mariners. Paul Sewald is good, and he will be good to us again, and I hated seeing his sad face when he gave up two singles and then the three-run home run to Manuel Margot at 106 MPH off the bat. Despite Suarez’ second homer in the 9th, the Mariners couldn’t quite come back from that. The juxtaposition, in a fifteen minute span of a four hour game, of such elation and then dismay is enough to send you to bed for several days.
And yet, though I felt pretty rotten when I sat down an hour ago, the catharsis has kicked in, and with it a recollection of what sustains us as Mariners fans. The reward is not in the triumph, but the feeling; today this godforsaken beloved insufferable team gave us opportunities to feel it all with them. Thanks.
Notes on the Broadcast:
The first appearance of the Mariners on AppleTV’s Friday Night Baseball gave many of us our first exposure to what turns out to be an eventful broadcast. Below are a few highlights.
-At least half an inning of Dome Discourse (people calling T-Mobile a dome, suggesting the park would be better with a more complete roof, and other shenanigans)
-At least half an inning of discussion about Eugenio’s hair
-A delivery of crickets to the broadcast booth, revealing who are the cowards of the crew
-Conversations with Jen Mueller, who we love and are glad to share with the rest of the country for a night
-JP Crawford mic’ed up (so many great clips; highly recommend a twitter search)
-The broadcast crew letting the cat out of the bag that there will be another Apple TV Friday Night Baseball game in Seattle in the near future
-Facetiming Ken Griffey Jr. on air during the broadcast, which resulted in the below.