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Mariners play silly game, lose in silly fashion

well THAT didn’t go according to plan

Cleveland Guardians v Seattle Mariners
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Look, not every day can be the grandeur and gravitas and late-inning heart-stopping action of Opening Day. Sometimes games are really, deeply, very silly. Sometimes a game is a fart. That was this game. It was a fart game.

The big talking point about how the Mariners and Guardians match up has been the comparison with their pitching: two teams with fearsome starting rotations and powerful bullpens. Tonight, the Guardians mostly delivered on their side of the bargain, while the Mariners pitching staff decided to play some musical fruits.

Out of the Arizona sunshine, Robbie Ray wasn’t able to recapture his desert aura on a chilly, 45-degree night in Seattle. He walked five batters, struggling against the patient Cleveland hitters, and struck out just three. “I felt like the fastball was misfiring tonight,” said a matter-of-fact Ray postgame. “Everything up and out of the zone, kind of noncompetitive. One of those nights where I just had trouble finding the top of the zone and really driving the ball through. And they put some really good at-bats on me, too.”

The tone was set for his day by a nine-pitch at bat to open the game from Steven Kwan; it ended in the unstrikeoutable Kwan somehow collecting another strikeout on his trip to Seattle, but ate into Ray’s count early on a day when he was neither efficient nor effective with his pitches. While Ray thought he threw some good sliders, they weren’t tempting the patient Cleveland hitters—just a 20% whiff rate—and while the first inning showed signs of that newly zippy velocity, by the second inning it was down to 92-93 mph, settling right in at his average of 93 mph. “I just fell into bad counts the whole night,” said Ray. A real collection of barking spiders, you could say.

Ray surrendered three runs in that second inning, and [Mike Blowers voice] it didn’t have to be three, as after a single and a bunt single, Ray walked [grits teeth, wills self to type this out] Michael Accorsi Zunino to load the bases. Then, after some bad luck (a throw in from Teoscar on a flyout that hit Zunino, Teoscar was—we think unjustly—charged with an error), Ray made another ill-considered decision in attempting to catch the trail runner, throwing the ball away and allowing another runner to score and for the slow-footed Zunino to advance all the way to third, and he’d later score on a sac fly. Here’s the whole thing, if you want to see it, for some reason. Some real cheek squeaks, all of that.

Ray’s innings were so laborious they made Hercules jealous; he’d thrown 80 pitches and recorded one out in the fourth inning when the Guardians added on, with a Steven Kwan double allowing two more runners to score. Scott Servais then summoned Trevor Gott to make his Mariners debut under some tough circumstances, on a cold night with a restless crowd; Gott was able to navigate around that trouble but wilted in another inning of work, surrendering two more runs. Perhaps it was an unfair ask of Gott to go over an inning on a cold night in his home debut, but that doesn’t make that outing less of a wind loaf.

What’s frustrating is the Mariners offense was actually relatively active tonight after being a little slow to get started yesterday. They opened up the run scoring off Guardians starter Hunter Gaddis in the first, with a Julio double that put a charge into the crowd followed by a well-struck single from Kolten Wong to give the Mariners an early lead. Even after they fell behind, the offense battled back in the third to tie the game back up thanks to who else, Perfect Best Boy Cal Raleigh.

And then again, when Ray let the Guadians’ lead stretch back to 5-3, the Mariners battled again in the fourth to crawl back within a run, with other perfect best boy Julio collecting his second double of the day, this time for an RBI.

(Cooper Hummel was aboard on second there, having been HBP and stolen a base, which meant the lifelong Mariners fan got to experience tonight what it felt like to cross home plate at the House That Griffey Built, and although this game was very silly and very farts, that’s a nice thing to think upon.)

But alas, that is as close as the offense would be able to come, as Cleveland continued to roll out a parade of very good arms like it was the Beautiful Biceps competition and they were in first place. They added on another run against Chris Flexen, doing yeoman’s work in the eighth, but overall, Chris Flexen earns the Sun Hat award (if I may borrow it from Zach Mason for this exercise) for pitching in a very undesirable situation and keeping the game close. This game might have been a free jacuzzi/ringing of the Taco Bell/bowling for colons, but Flexen cleared the air after a real stinkapalooza. Bonus miniature Sun Hats to Cal Raleigh, who handled a shaky pitching staff, the free-running Guardians, and more than his fair share of plays at the plate, earning a well-deserved day off tomorrow and some hard-earned praise from his skipper, “Cal doesn’t let his guard down,” said Servais.

A second miniature Sun Hat to Teoscar Hernández, who helped out Flexen with this run-saving play:

As they say in New Zealand, better an empty house than a bad tenant; let’s hope the Mariners got that out of their systems and can show up a little better on Julio’s inaugural bobblehead night tomorrow.