Some books are so good they are impossible to put down. Some books, despite obviously being bad, have enough enjoyable parts that you still power through to the end, hoping to satiate your curiosity about how a particular plot thread resolves. At times the Seattle Mariners have been both of these things for me this season. Today, they were neither. Today, I found no joy in the Seattle Mariners as they fell 2-9 to the Baltimore Orioles.
Perhaps I set myself up for failure, for allowing myself to hope, despite being well acquainted with the volatility of baseball. In all of May the M’s only managed to string together two wins in a row one time, this last weekend in the first two of three games against the Houston Astros. On the one hand, that’s an abysmal streak. On the other, it was an impressive feat that ended the streak, against a tough opponent, that seemed to propose that the bats were waking up with the consistency they desperately needed. Yesterday’s 10-0 victory was a downpour of rain on that garden of hope. Then the Seattle Mariners of today came in and stomped all over that garden. If there was potentially a happy ending in the story of today’s game, then they ripped those pages out and ground them into the mud.
Robbie Ray is a character in this story that quite frankly, I have lost all interest in dedicating thought to, at least for the time being. He was not expected to be the same Cy Young caliber of yesteryear, he merely had to be good. To be fair, depending on which metric you decide to look at, he has been. In fact, he’s fifth in all of baseball this season in strikeouts with seventy-four, six of which he added today. Unfortunately he’s also tied for sixth in all of baseball with home runs allowed, sitting at eleven. He is a two-trick pony with his fastball and his slider, and if either of those pitches are as hittable as they have been, it means bad things for Robbie Ray and it means bad things for the Seattle Mariners.
Credit where it’s due, five of his six strikeouts today were with the slider. Unfortunately though, the good has to outweigh the bad, and a few too many of his sliders were left hanging and hittable (and far too many of his fastballs). In Robbie Ray’s exponentially infamous Big Inning problem that once again popped up today, the big damage came off a slider that didn’t slide, that Rougned Odor promptly sent over the right field wall in the bottom of the second, scoring three and putting the O’s up early. Yes, Ray had the six strikeouts, but that is no fun when it’s erased by four earned runs on six hits and three walks. I haven’t lost faith that he can still turn things around for the season, but it’s one book I might put down for awhile, and trust in my friends to tell me when (if) it’s started getting good again. If it’s a story you are still interested in finding the good in, here are Ray’s six K’s for the day:
Taking over for Ray in the sixth inning came Sergio Romo, who before today had appeared in eight games, only having allowed one run. There was no joy in today’s story though, not even for the characters I consistently have liked. Zero, none, zilcho. Romo got chased after only 0.2 innings, walking one, and giving up five runs on four hits, three of them home runs. There are no indications that this was anything but an outlier for Romo, but it was still hard to watch. An easy to watch pitcher today was Penn Murfee, who salvaged the sixth inning for Romo and stayed in for all of the seventh, striking out one and allowing no hits, but also walking one.
One thing that can be said for the Seattle squad today is that they didn’t get shut out, and there were a few intermittent pulses of life in the offense overall. Ty France extended his career-high hitting streak to thirteen games, and had a 3-4 night. J.P. Crawford had a blossoming hitting streak of five games meet it’s demise yesterday with an 0-4 night, when the rest of the team was having a party at the plate. J.P. showed us today that he is the wizard in the Mariners’ story, and that he never late, he arrives precisely when he means to, when he put Seattle on the board with a solo shot in the fourth inning.
Julio Rodríguez being the good teammate he is didn’t let J.P. celebrate alone, and hit in the Mariners’ only other run of the game with an RBI single in the top of the fifth, scoring Taylor Trammell.
As I said with Ray, it unfortunately matters very little when the bad so heavily outweighs the good. Baltimore was able to turn their ten hits into nine runs, whereas the Mariners in stark contrast only turned their eight hits into two. Ty France was the only M’s hitter to have a multi-hit game today.
Today, the Seattle Mariners were a story I only finished because I had to. Yet, I am a reader who revels in the twists and turns, who feasts on the nuance of the plot, who can’t help but adore the Chaos Ball of it all. Today’s story was but a paragraph, this last week of play but a chapter. This season, one volume in an encyclopedia. There are characters whose stories have only just begun. Exciting, fun characters, with unlimited possibilities. Tomorrow, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next part of the story, as the Mariners turn the page, and leave this one behind them.