Tonight at T-Mobile Park it was Geno’s Good Vibes Only Day. There are a lot of ways to describe the vibes of a team, of a fandom. Call it team chemistry. Mojo. The Electric Factory. Take your pick. It’s elusive, intangible, immeasurable. It’s not a necessary component for good teams, or great teams, but it is absolutely a component of fun teams. The last two nights included two decidedly anti-fun losses. Tonight the Seattle Mariners found their fun and rallied behind solid pitching to defeat the Angels six to three and split the series.
The shirt says it all pic.twitter.com/mVQT6ZLXQX— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 7, 2022
One month and six days ago, on July 1st, the Mariners fell to the last place in the division Oakland Athletics, their record falling to 37-42. The starting pitcher in that game was Marco Gonzales, who posted a quality start, if an unremarkable one, going six innings and giving up two earned runs, only striking out two and walking one. The vibes were bad. Then the Mariners went on a nearly historic, fourteen game win streak. The vibes were good again.
Ever since that loss on July 1st, and before tonight, Marco posted a 5.87 ERA, a 5.13 FIP, and a dismal 6.7 K-BB%. Since that win streak they are 8-9, having been on both ends of series sweeps, and both winning and losing in grand fashion. Just in the last two days they won one and lost two to the Los Angeles Angels. An Angels team that has been abysmal, but in those three games outscored Seattle 12 to 6. The vibes were.. mixed.
Mixed is exactly how I would describe my feelings about Marco Gonzales. On the one hand, I respect his tenure with the Mariners, his stubbornness, his ability to defy his own numbers and eat innings, often posting quality starts in the process. On the other hand, his peripheral numbers are at times very, very bad, and you don’t always know which version of Marco is going to show up. Tonight the Marco that showed up was the stubborn, quality start one.
Gonzales near equally used all four of his pitches, and generated whiffs on all of them, his fastball even playing up in velocity topping out at just over 90 MPH. He limited the damage to eight hits and three earned runs, only walked one, and struck out seven. He gave up some hard contact, but he was also absolutely painting at times, giving Seattle the chance to win if the offense could show up.
I say if, but perhaps one of Marco’s motivators was that the offense in this game showed up early, and showed up strong. It’s one of those intangibles I spoke of, but I think most would agree it’s always easier for a pitcher to protect a lead than it is for an offense to overcome a deficit, and we only need look at the last two days of games for evidence of that. Today, the Mariners wasted no time getting on the board first. Both Adam Frazier and Mitch Haniger rewarded opposing pitcher Tucker Davidson’s poor command by drawing walks, and Eugenio Suárez rewarded their diligence by lacing one down the left field line for an RBI double.
The scoring in the first ended there as Jesse Winker and Cal Raleigh grounded out and popped out, respectively, to end the inning and strand two. The vibes were good, but could have been better.
The Angels almost evened the score in the top of the third, but Jesse Winker rocketed one in a beautiful relay via Eugenio to Cal Raleigh to tag the runner.
Fast forward all the way to the bottom of the third inning. Tucker Davidson faced the minimum of Seattle batters in the second, but he never looked to be particularly in command. That continued here, and Ty France and Mitch Haniger both seized the opportunity and hit balls into the outfield for singles, and Eugenio drew a walk to load the bases with only one out. Jesse Winker, a ground out victim earlier, came up to bat. Now, I know what you might be thinking. The Mariners have a reputation when it comes to the bases being loaded, and not a good one. Jesse Winker, despite mostly turning around his early season woes and being an absolute walk machine, has seemed to mostly lack the power he has flashed in previous seasons. The vibes were in danger. Except, they weren’t.
After taking two balls out of the zone, Winker saw the pitch he wanted, a 91 MPH fastball in the bottom third of the zone, and hit it 102.7 MPH off of the bat and 392 feet down the right field line for Seattle’s second grand slam of the season, just staying fair and becoming his eleventh home run this year.
Jesse Winker’s grand slam put the Mariners up 5-0 with that blast, and while the Angels would answer back the next inning with two runs, it was a commanding enough lead that it never felt like a threat. To be extra sure though, Seattle decided to put one more on the board. This time the precursor was an Eugenio good vibes single, followed by a trademark Jesse Winker walk. Two outs later, it was Sam Haggerty’s turn. Sam Haggerty, who has the highest OPS of tonight’s starting lineup now at .875, whose average is sitting at a cool .314, and had a 2-for-4 night, including this RBI double.
Perhaps the universe demanded balance and that’s why Jesse Winker was called out at home plate there, payment to the baseball gods for the run stealing relay he started earlier in the game. On the slow motion replay it certainly looked as if he was safe, his cleats reaching the plate before you can see the glove make contact on the other side of his leg, but the angle on the broadcast was not ideal for confirming that and it certainly wasn’t enough to overturn on a challenge, though the Mariners tried.
The Angels did manage to score another against Marco in the sixth inning, but never came close to being a real threat. So toothless were the Angels that Andrés Muñoz, Penn Murfee, and Paul Sewald all faced the minimum over an inning apiece to close the door and seal the win, striking out four among them.
Today, the vibes were good, the Mariners meeting the moment and the theme for the day. That hasn’t always been the case this season. However, it has been more than it has not. There have been injuries and slumps, and the Mariners have answered back with a rotating cast of heroes. The intangibles don’t matter the most, but they matter. This team is fun, this team has fight. And this season especially, I can’t think of any better vibes than the Mariners decisively overcoming the Angels on an easy Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Park, carrying that momentum into a three game home series against the Yankees.