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Mariners Phone It In, Nationals Pick up the Call and Win 3-1

Heavy on the analogies, light on the analytics, somehow still about today’s game.

Washington Nationals v Seattle Mariners Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Readers, allow me to take you back to a very specific memory I’m sure most of us share from the days when we were younger. I apologize to those this won’t apply to — anyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas.

Which is supposed to be me, but I maintain that I’m only Jew-ish and growing up with divorced parents meant my twin sister and I got to spend part of the holidays with the Hanukkah parent and the Christmas parent. But I digress.

Close your eyes (but only for a second, there’s more to read) and picture the last week of school before Christmas break. If you were young enough, it was arts and crafts week. If you were old enough, it was Finals week. No matter the age, though, it was a series of days of sugar-coated chaos. On the good years, Christmas fell on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, and you only had to go to school for a couple days. On the bad years, December 25th fell on a Sunday meaning you had to somehow make it through five whole days of school before the fun began on Saturday, Christmas Eve. Some days you put in the effort, other days (especially Friday) you phoned it in, just waiting for the fun to start.

For the Mariners, Ichiro Hall of Fame Weekend is Christmas, the first game of the Cleveland series is Christmas Eve and today was the Friday before.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Seattle Mariners
Aug 24, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher George Kirby (68) delivers against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Lindsey Wasson
Lindsey Wasson-USA TODAY Sports

George Kirby: The Only Kid In The Group Doing Their Work

Today’s start for Mariners rookie baby ace George Kirby didn’t begin with the usual flair that comes with being the “does all the work in the group project” kid. His 1-2-3 strikeout to kick it off had whispers of the can-do attitude, but what came after (three straight hits capped off by a Nelson Cruz RBI single) closer resembled the kid that forgot his flash drive with all the work on it at home or the kid that slept in and was late.

After a costly mistake that dinged his group some points, Kirby hid in the shadows of the classroom (the dugout) and focused his mind on the task at hand — winning the game. To do his part all he had to accomplish was shutting down Washington for the rest of his outing and his teammates for responsible for putting Seattle ahead.

It also can’t be overlooked that this candy cane of a guy really came into a Wednesday afternoon game and set the record for the most strikes thrown to start a game. The 24 strikes before a thrown ball beat the previous record holder, Joe Musgrove of the San Diego Padres, who previously tossed 21 strikes to begin a game. Kirby certainly has the “freshman in a senior AP Physics class and still the most productive” vibe to him. And it’s not bad.

Washington Nationals v Seattle Mariners
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 24: Julio Rodriguez #44 of the Seattle Mariners looks at his bat during the game against the Washington Nationals at T-Mobile Park on August 24, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. The Washington Nationals won 3-1.
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Julio Rodríguez: The Kid That Is Guilted Into Doing Their Work (But At The Last Minute)

If your high school experience was anything like mine, you had a Social Studies teacher like Tim Adams who had a knack for treating his students like they were human beings with their own will power. Tim was the AP teacher that truly made his upper level classes feel like a true college experience — in that your teacher isn’t holding your hand. Could it be harsh? Yes. But did it often push students to do their work knowing the person putting in their grades really only cared that the pimply teenagers in his classroom made a true effort? Absolutely. Sometimes that came in the form of Tim leaving the classroom during 4th period AP US History in the week leading up to Christmas because he didn’t feel the effort.

“Go to [second] lunch with your friends, I won’t care if you don’t.”

Some students would leave, some would get down to business knowing this was the time that mattered for them to do their classwork.

Something tells me a Tim Adams-esque voice got to Julio Rodríguez today.

Going into today’s game, Julio was only one home run away from joining the 20/20 club — that club being a group of ballplayers that hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases in one season. Nothing was significant about him accomplishing it today, he wasn’t up against a clock other than the one ticking the days down until Game 162. Julio’s first three at-bats represented that lackadaisical mood of knowing you technically didn’t have to get it done today if you didn’t want to. There’s still time. That was his strikeout in the 1st inning and ground outs in the 3rd and 6th.

Sometime after that and before Julio’s final at-bat in the 8th inning, the spirit of Tim Adams (I think he’s still alive, but just go with it) got to Julio. And Julio got to work.

As stated, Julio became the first Mariner since Mike Cameron in 2002 to join the 20/20 club and only the 12th rookie in MLB history to achieve the feat. It’s very exciting for us as Mariners fans to witness this right before our eyes. But, more importantly, with his home run Julio evened the score between Seattle and Washington (lol) and handily picked his team right up.

Was it a little late? Sure, but you can’t say Julio didn’t get any of his work done.

The Rest of the Class

Today’s game featured a whole class of characters, check it out:

J.P. Crawford: The kid that got sent out into the hall by the teacher who mistook them for the another kid but the teacher is so stubborn that J.P. gets sent out to the hall anyway

Jesse Winker: The kid that hasn’t really been coming to class for awhile but for some reason shows up today?

Paul Sewald: The ol’ reliable kid that’s stressed out from the holidays and just didn’t have it today

Mitch Haniger: The kid that goes to the student government office to get Winter Ball tickets for him and his crush and sees the kid that did get tickets (the last ones, in fact) walk right by him

Dylan Moore: The kid that gets hit by a wayward candy cane in the hallway because the owner of said candy cane was twirling it around their finger and lost control

Sports Contributor Archive 2020
CHICAGO - CIRCA 2002: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners runs in from the outfield during an MLB game at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. Suzuki played for 19 seasons, with 3 different team, was a 1-time All Star and won the Rookie of the Year and the MVP in 2001.
Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images

Finally, Holiday Break

Readers, we’ve made it. We’ve made it through the last five days (games) before the festivities could start. Yeah, we phoned it in for the better part of the last five games but the Hall of Fame series is finally here and just like the holidays, it’s time for some cheer.