As human beings, we’re genetically engineered to look for patterns. Patterns are the things that, over the course of human history, have taught us what food is and isn’t safe; what routes might be dangerous at what times; how to follow the stars at night; when is best for our bodies to do certain things. As baseball writers, we thrive on patterns: we look for underlying data to explain what’s happening in front of us and help people manage their expectations for what might happen next. As both a pattern-seeking person and a baseball writer, these 2022 Mariners have been the most frustrating team I’ve covered over my tenure at LL: they’re bad, but it’s hard to explain why; or they’re good, and it’s equally hard to explain why; and there’s seemingly no correlation from one day to another. One of the things about doing back-to-back recaps like last night and tonight’s is it allows me to set the two games against each other like a diptych, envision them side-by-side, and determine...yeah, I still have no idea what the pattern here is. I do know that tonight’s game, a 5-0 drubbing of the Twins, is a lot more fun to cover.
Okay, if we’re going to talk the biggest difference between last night and tonight, and one of the easiest to track and predict, it’s the starting pitching. Whereas Flexen started last night shaky and rounded into form, Logan Gilbert was dominant out of the gate tonight, which seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game. His first inning started with getting Luis Arráez to ground out on two pitches, followed by two swinging strikeouts of Buxton and Correa, neutralizing the powerful top of the Twins’ order right out of the gate. He allowed one batter to reach in the third—a poky little groundball single off the bat of Gilberto Celestino—before retiring the side, and walked Buxton to lead off the fourth before giving up a single to Carlos Correa, putting him in his first real trouble of the day, but (after a well-timed mound visit) quickly induced a double play off the bat of Max Kepler and got Gio Urshela to line out to quell that threat. Gilbert also allowed a leadoff single to Celestino in the sixth, but followed that by quickly recording two more outs; Correa singled on a hot shot Eugenio Suárez couldn’t quite handle but again Gilbert rebounded in a 3-0 count to strike out Kepler to end the inning, and his day, with a little bit of emphasis.
With this win, Gilbert is now 7-2 on the season, and while we all know that Pitcher Wins Don’t Matter, it’s pretty reflective of the role Gilbert plays as a “stopper” on this team: someone who can help turn around a losing skid and set his team up with a chance to win every time he steps on the mound. If you didn’t see the game, I’d urge you to go back and watch the first inning, at least, just to get a sense of the tone Gilbert set for his team right out of the gate. As frustrating as it’s been trying to discern patterns for this 2022 team, Logan Gilbert has been a consistent thread in the tapestry, and tonight was another indication as to why he deserves the title of team ace.
Logan Gilbert worked his way back from a 3-0 count to ꓘ Carlos Correa -- all via called strikes and gas: pic.twitter.com/EaiQrfbqP8— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) June 15, 2022
Of course, a stopper only works if the rest of the team cooperates, which required the...less consistent parts of the pattern to step up. Luckily, while the diptych of Eugenio Suárez from yesterday was the haggy old witch from Snow White with an 0-for-4 2K day and the lowest WPA on the team, today he was the beautiful but terrifying Evil Queen and had the highest WPA of all batters, mostly because he hit this towering shot in the fourth inning and the Mariners never looked back.
Eugenio Suárez gets the Mariners on the board! pic.twitter.com/dfvmVUYlTR— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) June 15, 2022
Is this a sign it might be time for Eugenio to go with just one color of hair? But what if he chooses the wrong one? I think I’d prefer not to risk it.
(Also, that was a two-run homer because Julio had doubled before him. Julio didn’t drive in a run today but quietly had a great day anyway, hitting the double, making all the plays he needed to in center, and getting on base twice via the walk. They don’t all have to be big, dramatic days to be ROY-quality.)
Speaking of the AL ROY, the Mariners did their part to ding Joe Ryan’s chances by stacking four runs against him in 4.2 innings. Ryan’s day would come to an end in the fifth, when Dylan Moore (again having a quietly—and not so quietly—good stretch at the plate, hi Dylan) singled and then stole second, his first of two steals on the day and a direct laugh in the face at staff writer Zach Mason who claims to believe DMo is not fast. You dare doubt these yabba-dabba-dooing-legs? Ty France then knocked his 10th homer of the year to put the Mariners out to a 4-0 lead.
Ty France - Seattle Mariners (10) pic.twitter.com/0BOLTVY593— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) June 15, 2022
Mariners fans haven’t so much seen the 2022 team hashtag-Rise as they have seen them crest, fall, and toss their faithful fans against the rocks, hopelessly beaten back by the current, but above this all Ty France has emerged as a tricolor lighthouse, a steady beacon of offensive capability, trusty as the mail, constant as time itself, and...[taps earpiece] okay Connor is telling me Ty France has struck out at least once in five straight games, and tonight was his first three-strikeout game of the year. Okay well even lighthouses get to have an off day and...oh no? That’s not actually how lighthouses work? Moving on.
Not satisfied with this glut of runs or perhaps fearing the bullpen post-Logan, the Mariners tacked on one more run in the seventh because Samuel Onofrio Haggerty walks up to The Godfather Theme Song and that’s good for at least one hit a series. He doubled home DMo in the seventh, who had walked and stolen a base, everyone wave to DMOBP. It turned out to be a strongly Italian-American influenced evening late in the game (too bad it wasn’t Italian Heritage Night instead of 90s Night), as after some strong work from Erik Swanson and Diego Castillo, who each contributed a no-hit inning, Staten Island Native Matt Festa aka the Peachfather (IYKYK) came on to close things out and introduce this epic new celebration:
new favorite victory celebration just dropped courtesy of matt festa and cal raleigh pic.twitter.com/DU6VsktkJP— Connor Donovan (@kennerdoloman) June 15, 2022
Oh, let’s see a high-def version:
The bullpen has been one of the more frustrating aspects of the 2022 team despite the inherent nature of bullpens being fungible, so it was silly to expect a duplicate performance from last year, but seeing the once-stalwart Steckenrider sent down has shooketh me, what can I say. And yet it’s also allowed for the rise of Penn Murfee, one of the truly pleasant stories of this season. I guess what the 2022 Mariners really are is a lesson that not everything in life can be ascribed to a pattern; not most poetical things, of course, as John Keats was fond of telling people in his writings on negative capability, the state of being empty and allowing the world to flow through you rather than attempting to ascribe meaning to the world around you:
“I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”
To truly experience the world, argues Keats—to see it as the poets and philosophers and astronomers do, those visionaries who see beyond the boundaries of the physical world around us—requires people to become comfortable with discomfort, to internalize the uncertainty of the world and try, not to make order, but to simply let all those perspectives exist at one. So that’s what I’ll be trying to do with the 2022 Mariners, to the best of my ability and office; to stop irritably reaching after fact and reason, and simply open myself to the limitless possibilities that exist when you’re not trying to predict the universe’s next footfall.