For the Seattle Mariners, this season has been one of duality. On the one hand, several players have performed well, some rising to lofty expectations, others surpassing what was expected. On the other hand, some have fallen far below what was promised. For every time one aspect of the team has succeeded, it seems there are two more examples of other parts failing and holding them back. Tonight, they were a paltry 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, but would you believe me if I told you that their 126 wRC+ in the same situation ranks fifth league wide? You might say they that they are winning battles, but losing the war, as they lost to the Angels 2-4 tonight in the first double header game.
Chris Flexen himself was a dichotomy in tonight’s game. Over 5.1 innings he allowed six hits, two walks, and struck out five. He allowed only two earned runs, which absolutely kept Seattle’s hopes alive in this game. However, in that regard, he also got somewhat lucky.
Overall, Flexen did his job. He produced outs, and when he got into trouble, he almost always got out of it. His command was not pretty however, and when he missed, he missed terribly. His line was also very close to being much worse when he left the game with runners on second and third base, and only one out, but Andrés Muñoz came in and struck out the remaining batters. In fact, Muñoz stayed in the game to work the top of the seventh inning, and worked it 1-2-3 and racked up another two strikeouts, bringing his total to four for the day and cementing a stellar outing from the young arm. He managed to whiff Kurt Suzuki, Tyler Wade, Taylor Ward, and Mike Trout. Each one more impressive than the last, here are all four:
Erik Swanson then came in and worked an inning also facing the minimum, but he had some luck of his one when Shohei Ohtani almost took him deep in the first at bat, but instead flew out to Dylan Moore at the warning track. Swanny quickly bounced back though, racking up two strikeouts of his own to end the inning.
On the offensive side, the Mariners actually outhit the Angels, racking up eight hits to Los Angeles’ seven. The Angels ultimately outscored the Mariners, but they were not the first to strike. Seattle was first on the board in the third inning, with a blast to left field by Dylan Moore.
That lead would not last though, as the two runs Flexen allowed followed in the next half inning. He started the inning strong enough with strikeouts of both Ohtani and Walsh, but quickly was in trouble after a Matt Duffy single and a Brandon Marsh walk. Kurt Suzuki then quickly punished those mistakes with a double to left field, just missing Dylan Moore’s glove in a valiant diving attempt, putting the angels up two to one.
The score remained there until the seventh inning, when Aaron Loup took over pitching for L.A. Dylan Moore started the inning off by taking an 0-2 pitch off of his foot, not even flinching in such a way to make even Ty France proud. Yay, baserunners, but also, it would be nice if they stopped hitting Mariners hitters, this Moore’s sixth hit-by-pitch of the season already. DMo’s foot must have been fine though, because he wasted no time in stealing second base. Then Abraham Toro, our beloved, hit a single moving him to third base. Abraham Toro arguably had the best game among all M’s hitters, going 2-for-3 with a walk.
Raleigh came in and struck out for Taylor Trammell, and the Angels opted to bring in Archie Bradley to face Julio with two outs and runners on the corners. Rookie move, big mistake.
Julio may have fallen behind in the count 0-2, but he was not out. His single brought home Moore, moved Toro to third, and set him up for a stolen base. He now has a league leading eighteen stolen bases on the season, only adding to his resume for rookie of the year. Similar words have been spoken in many recaps so far, and don’t expect to stop hearing them any time soon. Unfortunately for the box score though, him and Toro would be stranded, and the game would remain tied until extra innings.
Well, extra inning. It only took until the top of the tenth inning for Mike Trout to do Mike Trout things. Diego Castillo came in to work the tenth, and had managed to induce a groundout and a fly-out to start the inning. The Manfred Man, Tyler Wade, had managed to move to third on the fly-out, but ultimately it mattered not. Trout watched a ball outside of the zone for a first pitch ball, a sinker at the top of the zone for a called strike, and decided he had seen enough and sent the third pitch perfectly dotting the bottom of the zone over the wall. It wasn’t a bad pitch to Trout, in all honesty. We can debate whether they should have walked Trout or faced him, or whether Ohtani is too much of a threat to walk to, but that’s because we are blessed with hindsight. If Trout would have struck out, as he had three times already in the game, then Castillo would have been praised for attacking him.
Alas, the damage was done, and the Mariners fell in order in the bottom of the tenth. Because that’s the story of this team so far this season. Even when they are good, they are not. Even when they do everything right, they are unlucky. They are a team at war with themselves, at war with the team history that has been handed to them, and at war with the seemingly random nature of the game they choose to play. Hopefully, it is merely the first half to a story that has a happy ending. As this gets published, they are in the second inning of game two of their double header, the game still scoreless. The offense did load the bases in the first inning, but they also stranded all of those runners. Maybe, just maybe, they can bounce back and tie up the series. If they do, the hope for a series win remains alive for tomorrow. If not, well, tomorrow still will come.