Earlier today, in celebration of Bark at the Park Night, we published an article with pictures of our pets, comparing them to each Mariner. That is a much more enjoyable read than this one, and you should probably go read it, if you haven’t, as a palate cleanser for this absolute howler of a game.
To paraphrase Tolstoy, every Mariners loss is alike, but also unhappy in its own way. Chris Flexen starts, it feels like, are especially alike-unhappy: the Mariners have scored a total of five runs over Chris Flexen’s six starts, and tonight marked the fourth time they’ve scored nothing for him. A big fat goose egg. Zero the un-hero. That’s actually kind of impressive if you think about it, although I would encourage you not think about it too much.
While Flexen has mostly done an admirable job suppressing offense and an even more admirable job of not drop-kicking all of his teammates into the Salish Sea, tonight the dam broke and he surrendered six runs over five innings to a Philadelphia team that came in intent on swinging at Flexen’s crafty-righty offerings, and did a whopping amount of damage on said pitches, starting with Jean Segura homering in the second on a 92 MPH fastball that caught too much of the plate, immediately followed by a Rhys Hoskins homer on the curveball, a pitch Flexen was only allowing a wOBA of .150 on (but an xwOBA of .419, yikes).
Faithful 2022 Mariners watchers know that even a two-run lead is mostly insurmountable for the current iteration of this team, who have all the offensive punch of watered-down lemonade at a middle-school dance, but that didn’t stop the Phillies from coming back in the third inning and getting the offensive machine fired up again, and then again in the fifth to make the final line against Flexen six runs, all earned, on nine hits. Remember what it felt like when the Mariners could string together hits? That was fun, although it feels now like a beautiful dream we all had early in the season, and now it’s the harsh light of morning.
Instead of watching their team do, uh, anything, Seattle fans—and a hefty portion of Philly fans—were left watching a turnstile of red-clad batters marching around the bases and scoring runs, as Diego Castillo surrendered another three runs on five hits and was unable to clear his inning, needing Danny Young to come in making his MLB debut to rescue the Mariners from further ignominy.
But no amount of pig-lipsticking can cover what the offense did tonight, or rather didn’t do, as they’ve now been shut out five times, more than any other team in the majors. Despite Julio attempting to single-handedly drag the team into contention with a three-hit night, the Mariners squandered opportunity after opportunity, making the soft-tossing Ranger Suárez look like vintage Verlander. Or current Verlander, whatever. Suárez struck out seven over six innings of work, utterly embarrassing the Mariners hitters on his changeup; when they did make contact with the ball, it was of the soft infield variety. My mom taught me that when you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all, so I think we’ll leave the recap part of the game there. Let’s look at some bright spots instead, no matter how hard we have to dig through the doggie doo of this game to find them.
Every dog has its day:
- Juliooooooooooo. Bless Julio, who was the only watchable part of this game. Here is his hustle double from the third, aka the only Mariners highlight of the day:
"Hustle double!"— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 10, 2022
Julio Rodríguez, of course. pic.twitter.com/fHHJ7Ltvlz
He was stranded at second, because of course he was, but it was another indication that third in the lineup—at least this current iteration of the lineup—is exactly where JRod belongs.
- It was not as nice a night at the plate for Jarred Kelenic, but once again we have to praise his defense in right field. Kelenic was on the run for most of the evening as the Mariners pitching staff allowed hits like it was batting practice, and aside from one poor throw that probably wouldn’t have resulted in an out anyway, he continued to provide value at least defensively, which is all you can do when you’re struggling as hard at the plate as he is.
- After what feels like weeks of languishing in the MLB bullpen after being recalled from Tacoma but is apparently only days, Danny Young got to make his MLB debut, coming in to bail out a floundering Diego Castillo. He was a little shaky on location at first, but sharpened things up nicely in the next inning, including earning his first MLB strikeout (hilariously, Gameday records this as a changeup, but we assure you it is his fastball at 89 MPH).
This one was even nastier, with the slider that’s his primary putaway weapon:
- Penn Murfee also worked a clean inning, efficiently dismissing the Phillies on seven pitches including a strikeout of Bryson Stott. I was surprised to see Penn lifted after just an inning, thinking instead he’d be used for extended mop-up duty; it seems like he’s maybe working his way up that bullpen totem pole.
- One more semi-debut, although not an MLB debut: Stuart Fairchild made it into the game and actually got to take an at-bat! (He’d come in purely for defense once before) The Seattle native (Seattle Prep grad) and hero of my pandemic no-baseball OOTP franchises struck out, but it was cool to see him get to take an at-bat anyway and think about how cool that moment must have been for him.
I blame the loss on the lack of cute dog images during the game, or at least I blame the crankiness of my mood on that. The Mariners will try again tomorrow at the same time, and then blissfully close up this series with their first day baseball of the year, on Wednesday at 12:40.