Having been sick with COVID a couple weeks ago, I finally downloaded the app version of one of my favorite board games, Wingspan, allowing me to pass many hours filling up my virtual aviary and learning tons of cool Bird Facts, some of which I will share with you now, as the details of this Mariners game, which they lost 3-1 to the Athletics, are not really worth sharing. In addition to playing Wingspan, I’ve also downloaded the app Merlin, which helps you identify any bird you see by just entering some basic info about the bird. As a bonus, it comes with some jaunty little descriptions about the birds, some of which could apply to tonight’s performance by the Mariners.
Marco Gonzales - Sharp-tailed grouse
The sharp-tailed grouse is known for their energetic tap-dance during mating season. Similarly, Marco danced into and out of trouble all night, allowing traffic on the bases on some softly-hit balls and just generally getting BABIPed to death. He finally allowed a run to cross in the fifth inning, when a Sean Murphy single scored the ever-pesky Tony Kemp. A second run crossed in the sixth when, with two outs, Tony Kemp flicked a little single to center, scoring Sheldon Neuse, who had doubled.
Sam Haggerty - Greater roadrunner
The roadrunner is North America’s fastest land bird; they can hit up to 26 MPH at top speed. Sam Haggerty used his own above average speed to help bail Marco out of a couple tight spots with some excellent running catches:
Haggerty also had a key hit in the seventh inning against A’s reliever Domingo Acevedo, although sadly he would be stranded, because unlike Wile E. Coyote, the Mariners succeed in their plans (to leave as many runners on base as possible).
Eugenio Suárez - Eastern Bluebird
It took until the fourth inning for the Mariners to get their first hit off James Kaprielian, a snuck-through single off the bat of Eugenio Suárez. Suárez would also contribute a double in the sixth inning that almossssssst went over the fence—it definitely fooled Dave Sims into thinking it would. The bluebird is associated with happiness and good vibes, but it also has some pretty spectacular plumage, making it a good match for Eugenio.
Julio Rodríguez - Bird of Paradise
You might know the bird of paradise flower, a beautiful, showy bloom that shows up in summer, but there’s a real bird-of-paradise too: a big, showy bird with dramatic plumage. That seems to sum up the J-Rod Show, which was on display again tonight as Julio jussssst missed a home run, instead settling for a triple:
Every day this guy is doing something— Just Baseball (@JustBBMedia) July 2, 2022
Julio's triple leads to a run as the Mariners pull within a run pic.twitter.com/GQL790Dzxi
Julio also took a key two-out walk in the seventh against new A’s reliever Luke Jackson instead of getting over-excited and swinging out of his shoes, which shows he knows when to switch the J-Rod show on and off.
Jesse Winker - Australian fairy-wren
It’s appropriate Jesse Winker’s daughter’s name is Wren, because the fairy-wren is known for helping out other birds by telegraphing danger to other friendly birds in its habitat when it spots a predator. We’ve seen Jesse Winker do this in a couple different ways to protect his habitat-brother Julio, first by sticking up for him in the melee with the Disgraced Former California Angels, and again tonight, as he grounded out to send Julio home after his triple for the Mariners’ first (and sadly only) run tonight.
Unfortunately, Winker also flew out with the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh inning in what would be the Mariners’ best scoring opportunity of the night (103 EV, .830 xBA, new un-dead balls now please). This wren goes womp-womp.
Penn Murfee - Varied Bunting
The varied bunting is a bird that looks dark and dull at a distance, but up close explodes with rich color. Similarly, Penn Murfee’s stuff doesn’t look impressive from a distance, but has been baffling hitters all season. Unfortunately tonight he made a mistake—a pitch that wound up in the middle of the plate that Sean Murphy got a hold of in the seventh for a solo home run, pushing the A’s lead to 3-1—but outside of that, Penn has been a pleasant surprise out of the Mariners’ pen despite the Golden Girls fastball velo. The varied bunting also possesses, per Merlin, a “low, rough warble” of a song, which definitely captures the guitar-strumming Nashville-born Penn’s sound.
Erik Swanson - Western Meadlowlark
The Western Meadowlark is the official bird of North Dakota, Erik Swanson’s home state, and like Swanson, enjoys camouflaging itself in nature, although likely not with the intent to hunt for large game. If this bird was a person it would also be blonde. The meadowlark can also survive in multiple habitats, much like Swanson has been able to switch between the starting rotation and bullpen and New York and Seattle over his term. Anyway, Swanson also had to work around a little trouble as again he seemed to have trouble reigning in his fastball tonight, but ultimately posted another scoreless inning. If the bats had been able to do...anything, Swanson’s scoreless inning and Ken Giles’s would have both been key elements to a Mariners comeback. Alas, it was not to be.
The Oakland A’s - Mockingbirds
Harper Lee got it all wrong; it’s not a sin to kill a mockingbird, it should be a requirement. Mockingbirds suck. They’re not big and they’re not strong, but they’re annoying—territorial, rude, savage birds who will attack pets and even people. They sing their annoying, loud, horrible songs, well after other birds have retired for the night, which is similar to how games against the A’s always feel like they’re going late at night. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s recap can be sub-headed “killing the mockingbirds.”