If you’re anything like me, you love a good time loop. It’s one of my favorite sci-fi premises. Groundhog Day, Palm Springs, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Cause and Effect,” etc. I love them all. Time loops offer opportunities for unique storytelling. They show us how putting in the same or similar inputs can lead to radically different results. And this is where, importantly, they relate to baseball.
Baseball is, I think, the closest we can get to time loops in real life. Teams play 162 games a year, and they trot out the same or similar lineups each day to play other teams doing the same. Chaos theory dictates that radically different things will happen each time, but on the scale of a season, each individual game is its own trip through the loop.
But the time loop we’re talking about today is on a much, much shorter scale. You see, the Orioles were stuck in a loop of individual batters causing Pure Chaos™ on the field. And they had themselves stuck in it in the second inning.
With one out, Abraham Toro, our beloved, got the fun started with a hit to left-center (batting lefty, by the by). The Orioles outfielders had a light collision that allowed him to take an extra base and advance to second.
This would be the only base hit by the Mariners to leave the infield all inning. Right after Toro’s double, Frazier hit a ground ball that ate up Baltimore third baseman Jonathan Arauz reached safely on the error. And this is where the loop gets strange.
Sam Haggarty, recalled from Tacoma, stepped in to his trademarked Godfather music, hit a beautiful bunt down the third base line. This time through the loop, Arauz again tried to field it, and this time commited a throwing error by sending the ball sailing past Mancini and allowing Toro, pumping his arms, to score.
But the Mariners weren’t done yet. The next loop they sent J.P. Crawford to the plate who hit one of the shortest fair balls of the season, just barely tapped in front of the plate. As the ball rolled down the first base line, it was slightly deflected by the grass. Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman thought it was going to go foul and just watched as it rolled slowly, staying fair, and allowing Frazier to score and J.P. to reach safely.
Julio followed that up with a 109 mph sac fly to dead center, and then Winker grounded out to end the inning and break the loop. But by then the damage was done.
If you’re anything like me, you love a good time loop. It’s one of my favorite sci-fi premises. Deathloop, Returnal, the Doctor Who episode “Heaven Sent,” etc. I love them all. Time loops offer opportunities for unique storytelling. They show us how putting in the same or similar inputs can lead to radically different results. And so it is in baseball.
The time loop that the Orioles got themselves stuck in today was really in the fourth inning.
Abraham Toro, our beloved, led the inning off and got the fun started with a hit down the third base line (batting righty, by the by). The Orioles outfielder bobbled the transfer, and allowed Toro to take an extra base and advance to second.
In the next loop Frazier slapped a single to left field on a pitch outside the zone. Adam has been scuffling recently (wRC+ of 15 in June), so here’s hoping this is a sign of him returning to the line drive machine he was last year.
The chaos really got started in the next trip through the loop when Sam Haggerty slapped a ball directly onto third base that scored Toro and put two in scoring position.
J.P. Scored Frazier with a sac fly in the next loop, and that brought up Julio Rodriguez. If you were anywhere in King County, I’m sure you were able to hear what happened next.
431 feet. 109 mph off the bat. Into the left field bleachers. We haven’t seen a home run like that at T-Mobile Park in a long time. Not infield chaos, but instead a majestic arc to bust the game wide open. Is it possible that we’re underappreciating Julio?
Back-to-back base hits by Winker and Suarez chased Orioles pitcher Nick Vespi out of the game, replaced by Bryan Baker. Baker struggled in the loop and issued a four pitch walk to Carlos Santana, with a wild pitch to score Winker from third mixed in. Cal Raleigh, the only Mariner not to reach base today, picked himself up an RBI by scoring Suarez on a sac fly in the next loop. Toro then flew out to end the inning and break the loop. But by then the damage was done.
If you’re anything like me, you love a good time loop. It’s one of my favorite sci-fi premises. Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, Martian Time Slip, etc. I love them all. Time loops offer opportunities for unique storytelling. They show us how putting in the same or similar inputs can lead to radically different results. And so it is in baseball.
Today the Mariners pitching staff did an admiral job of managing the loop. Chris Flexen got some serious run support for the first time in his life it feels like, and gave the Mariners a Quality Start in return. The QS is not a perfect stat, but as our own Zach Mason has written, it is still a useful one. Flexen did give up 6 hits and walk 2 batters while only striking out 3, but he limited those 8 runners to just three runs, more than enough with the offense hanging 9 on the O’s bullpen. All in all, it was a respectful outing.
Once Flex escaped the loop, the M’s trio of relievers of Swanson, Giles, and Murfee were stellar. They combined for 2 walks (Swanson and Giles) and 1 hit (Murfee), with only Ryan Mountcastle advancing as far as second. Personally, I love seeing Penn, even if he rarely gets to come in during high leverage moments. I never get sick of his goofy little Dracula impression.
So this loop was broken, and the Mariners came out victorious. It’s always good to see the offense explode, even though it was a bullpen for the Orioles. The Baltimore bullpen is one of the best in baseball, though, so maybe it does mean something. (And don’t look now, but Jesse Winker’s wRC+ is over 160 for the month of June.)
So, at the end of the day, a time loop where the Mariners score runs and win games in resounding fashion? Not a bad one to be in.