After their 5-4 loss to the Guardians last night, the Mariners decided that drastic action was necessary. They had their best baseball engineers and baseball quantum physicists construct the ultimate training tool: the Several Players Literally In Two Seperate Quantum Universal Avenues Device, or SPLIT SQUAD. This would finally allow the team to play two games at once, doubling their chances to win. Scott Servais hunkered down for the night, a twinkle in his eye, and a smile on his lips.
For scientific reasons, the SPLIT SQUAD players could not play on the same field at the same time, lest they touch and create a matter/antimatter cascade. So instead, the Prime Mariners left to play the Texas Rangers while the Alpha Mariners would stay behind and play the White Sox. In order to avoid confusing fans, ROOT Sports decided only to broadcast the Alpha Mariners, so for most viewers, the White Sox game was business as usual.
The process of going through the SPLIT SQUAD is quite taxing, so it was understandable that some of the Mariners would struggle. Bob Ray, the Alpha version of Robbie Ray, took the mound and seemed completely unfazed, however. In his first inning he got two strikeouts before inducing a week grounder to end the inning. And that pattern continued through all of his 4 innings of work. Two strikeouts and a field out, except in the 4th when he struck out the side. In addition, his velocity seemed to benefit from the temporal split, with his velocity renewed to what it was about 2 years ago, around 95-97 mph. Despite 2 hits and 2 walks on the day, Bob did not let a single run score, lowering his Spring Training ERA to 0.75. Bob had a new strategy for his shiny new splitter today, using it as a “get me over” pitch whenever he fell behind in the count. It worked.
Meanwhile, in the Prime timeline:
Jacob deGrom leaves a 99-mph fastball up on an 0-2 pitch and Jarred Kelenic clubs it into right field for a triple.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 19, 2023
Things also looked good for the hitters in the Alpha timeline. After A.J. Pollock led off the Mariner’s first with an infield single that he just beat out, And Teoscar Hernandez walked, Leonys Martin hit a ball so hard it could be heard in the other timeline; a line drive to right field that scored Pollock and gave the Alpha M’s an early lead.
Things weren’t so good for the Prime M’s, Kelenic triple notwithstanding. Bryce Miller, making his first start of the spring had some trouble dealing with the Rangers’ lineup. Texas had not gone through the work of inventing the SPLIT SQUAD and so all of their players were ready for action. A walk to Corey Seager, a wild pitch, and a Nathaniel Lowe single gave the Rangers the lead and they never gave it back. A little later, Josh Jung homered for Texas’ second run. Someone should check on Miller’s shoulder, the timeline transferal may have altered it somehow.
Bukauskas replaced Bob in the 5th for the Alpha team, and immediately had trouble. Seby Zavala led off with a double, and moved to third when Erik Gonzales reached on error. This was followed by the worst kind of RBI, the RBI groundout to tie the game. That tie lasted exactly one pitch before Hanser Alberto doubled to give the Sox the lead. With the quarks now rapidly spinning in the wrong direction and the wheels fully off the proverbial bus, Eloy Jimenez singled another run in.
Meanwhile, the Prime team managed to employ the uncertainty principle to cause Brock Burke to throw a wild pitch, moving him to second from first. He got there by spontaneously switching souls with Julio, who had been recalled back to the device. Tanner moved to third when Karred Jelenic continued to assault baseballs by hitting a sharp groundball single. Once again the Uncertainty cannon was used and Burke threw another wild pitch, scoring Kirwer. The Prime Mariners managed to cut their deficit in half.
It doesn’t matter how, (a 2 run homer and a 1 run homer), but the White Sox pulled 5 runs ahead of the Alpha Mariners. That’s bad, because the SPLIT SQUAD could only be undone if one of the deficits was even, and the other was odd. Otherwise, the two teams could not remerge. With the Prime game cruising along and the score seeming increasingly unlikely to change, it all fell on the Alpha team to rescue the day. At this point, it was no longer about winning, it was about saving the team itself!
It came all the way down to the bottom of the eighth. Alpha timeline manager Mike Cameron looked on with baited breath as Kolten Wong struck out to lead off the inning. He got some relief when Jose Caballero double in the next at bat. Knowing the incredibly high stakes, Cameron replaced Caballero with a pinch runner, Logan Warmouth. That decision paid off when Zach DeLoach brought him home with a double of his own. For most people, a 6-2 game doesn't mean much. But for those who knew the peril the team was in because of the SPLIT SQUAD, that moment may as well have been a walk off. All that was left was to coast in on the current score, which is exactly what the team did, and the timelines recompressed safely.
So even though both teams lost, today was a successful trial run of the SPLIT SQUAD. The theory has been proven. Another experiment is scheduled for March 25. Perhaps then, the device's true power will be unleashed.