We are 13 whole games in the 2023 Seattle Mariners season and already the USS Good Vibes has threatened to capsize several times only to be saved from the brink by a few solid offensive outings by the Mariners. Today was another last-second iceberg dodge deftly pulled off thanks to a stellar Logan Gilbert outing and two massive back-to-back home runs by Teoscar Hernández and Jarred Kelenic resulting in a 5-2 victory.
It was certainly not smooth sailing the entire game, as the Chicago Cubs scored first on a sacrifice fly in the first inning and stayed within striking distance the whole game. Gilbert was perhaps still calibrating a bit in the first inning before settling in to lock things down for the next 6.2 innings. “Walter” was in the house by the third inning as Gilbert seemed to be pitching with a little extra anger and umph! on the mound. I think he saw his chance to be the stopper and he wanted it badly, racking up seven strikeouts and surrendering only 4 scattered hits.
Gilbert was noticeably miffed coming off the mound after walking Patrick Wisdom in the bottom of the seventh, as the Mariners were clinging to a 3-1 lead. Given what we’ve seen from Matt Brash lately and seeing as LoGi was at 94 pitches, I was leaning toward leaving him in there. Manager Scott Servais, ever the level-headed Midwestern dad, made the smart call given we are, again, 13 games into the season and there’s no need to overtax the starters with more high-stress pitches yet.
Brash entered and threw three sliders completely out of the strike zone’s zip code. At that point, Brash may have remembered that Manny Gonzalez’s strike zone was more of a Picasso than a rectangle today and started getting close enough to the zone for two strikes (one being a “strike”) before Miles Mastrobuoni grounded out. Crisis averted.
All right, it’s time for the really fun stuff.
The top of the eighth inning came around and Teoscar Hernández decided to disappear a pitch at the very top of the zone, pulling the ball so hard a fan in the left field bleachers decided to pour out half his beer out of respect.
I think it’s safe to say that Teoscar’s bat is fully pre-heated now and ready to roast any and all pitches from here on out. It’s gonna be fun having him anchor the middle of the lineup all season.
Jarred Kelenic, ever the competitor, decided to one-up Teo. What happened next resulted in the both the longest home run hit at Wrigley Field in the Statcast era (since 2015) and the longest Mariners home run period in that same era. Three home runs in three games for Jarred, all absolute rockets. Yeah, let’s over-the-fuck-react, friends. It’s all happening.
It must noted that seconds after that clip ends, that very happy little Cubs fan who ended up with the ball threw back that (probable) longest home run ball ever hit in Wrigley Field’s storied history. Bummer, man. Enjoy living that one down.
- Kolten Wong is off to a horrendous, cursed, extremely shit-tastic start this season and maybe only has single digit days left with the team at this point, but I give him credit for even bothering to keep playing today after this happened in his first at-bat. Obviously the third strike is a bad swing and miss, but after you get 2 egregious non-strikes called against you, how are you not going to swing at whatever is next? Technology-assisted umpiring cannot arrive soon enough.
- On the other hand, here’s how Julio Rodríguez responded to a similarly bad strike call, collecting his first of two hits on the day. Nice to see him end an otherwise quiet series for him with some knocks.
- Cubs starter Marcus Stroman hadn’t surrendered an earned run until today, so good job, Mariners!
- Mariners head into an off-day with decidedly improved vibes and come back to Seattle for a nine-game home stand versus more National League teams. Friday’s game versus the Rockies features a Cal Raleigh bobblehead commemorating one of the greatest hits in franchise history. Get there EARLY if you want it, folks!