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Seattle’s Professional Baseball Team members do their jobs, win on Jackie Robinson Day

And by do their jobs I mean got out of the way while the Rockies gave us points

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Seattle Mariners
Everybody wants a hit on Jackie Robinson Day
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes I forget that baseball is a profession. A “profession” sounds buttoned-up, serious, like something that happens indoors. Baseball, on the other hand, is fun. Today was fun! It’s a game, and there’s Gatorade-pouring and dancing and swearing. I admit it is also easier to forget that baseball is a profession when your team is playing like the Mariners did last week, or worse, like the Rockies did today: dead bats, bad fielding, pitcher meltdowns, angry faces, coaches getting ejected, etc.

I’d like to suggest that the Mariners played a professional baseball game today. Hot take, I know. What I mean is, think it’s worth noting a variety of ways in which Mariners showed real professionalism (competency and assuredness as relates to a profession or activity). Below, therefore, find a recap, with video highlights for your reliving pleasure, followed by some Notes on Professionalism.

The Recap:

Neither George Kirby nor the offense was super sharp today, and yet we find ourselves the proud owners of a decisive 9-2 victory. It’s a relief to be on this side of one of these! The first inning went by in a blink. By the second, it was clear that Kirby’s stuff wasn’t in dazzling form, but he also had good control and movement. His pitches were sitting high in the zone over and over, and he put a lot of them over the middle of the plate. However, he had enough of his stuff to get good outcomes. The Rockies got the first run of the game in the second, however, on base hits by C. J. Cron, Elías Díaz, and Elehuris Montero. The Mariners did mostly nothing, and by the end of the third my eye was twitching a bit, a typical physiological response to mild overexposure to pathetic strikeouts and bad ump calls.

The fourth was just what the doctor ordered. Though Kirby was still throwing a lot of pitches up and over the middle of the plate, the endorphins started flowing when Geno made a brilliant play, fielding a grounder and making a midair throw to first to nail C.J. Cron. It wasn’t clear from the angle on TV if Cron was really out, and despite searching I haven’t found a video of the play online. The spark lit Suárez’ night ablaze, and he led off the bottom of the fourth with a game-tying homer, all casual-like:

That’s when the wheels started to come off for the Rockies and they handed us a few runs. Cal Raleigh reached first on a single that I was sure would be a throwing error, and Feltner (who until this point had looked like a much better pitcher than his record suggests, and had some good movement on his fastball today) walked Tommy La Stella. Kolten Wong drew a walk on ten pitches to bring up J.P. Crawford with the bases loaded. At this point, a few things went right for the M’s. First, Feltner got a pitch clock violation called on him, which seemed to rattle him. Second, J.P. showed some tremendous plate discipline today, which paid off in several ways. In this at bat it did so via a single, which scored a run and kept the bases loaded for the 2022 Jackie Robinson AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, Julio Rodríguez.

From that point on, the game was in the bag. But there was still fun to be had. Kirby’s command looked a little better in the fifth and sixth innings, and in the bottom of the sixth the Mariners played add-on off reliever Brent Suter (whose delivery includes a real gem of an egg-laying pose). Jarred Kelenic led off with a single (off a lefty!). Kolten Wong reached on a fielder's choice interrupted by an error that allowed Kelenic to hustle to third. J.P. drew a beautiful walk, loading the bases for Julio again. The rest of the inning felt incredibly drawn out given the quick pace we’re becoming habituated to; the Mariners scored four more runs in a sequence involving an RBI force out, a Ty France HBP (STOP IT), a pitching change, another HBP, a great 11 pitch RBI walk for Cal Raleigh and a Teoscar Hernández single up the third base line. Great stuff, and by now Hernández, Suárez, France, and Kelenic had all extended their on base streaks to 13, 12, 12, and 10 games, respectively. Score? 9-1 Mariners.

From there it was fairly smooth sailing. The Rockies scored one more run in the seventh on hits by C.J. Cron and Elias Diáz, the only two Colorado players with multiple hits in tonight's game. I wasn’t expecting Kirby to come in for the seventh after such a long bottom of the sixth, and after that run scored his night was done. He confirmed in his post-game comments that he wasn’t able to stay warm enough during the long sixth to be successful in the seventh, though he really wanted to finish the inning. Penn Murfee then pitched 1.2 innings with four strikeouts, and Diego Castillo took the ninth. The only real fun of the ninth was that José Caballero replaced Crawford at shortstop in the bottom of the frame, making his MLB defensive debut. Here’s hoping he gets an at bat tomorrow!

Notes on Professionalism:

  • Jarred Kelenic struck out thrice today, which is a deflating outcome after his last four games. However, his response to those strikeouts was both markedly different from what we saw last year, and quite professional. I didn’t see fury, or throwing his bat, or increasingly desperate swings his next time up. I saw disappointment but also a posture of assurance that there is such a thing as process, not just outcome, and that process can be honed and trusted. This is professionalism: honing your craft, identifying with the doing of it rather than the outcome of the doing. Stepping back up to the plate with competence regardless of what happened the last time, which we saw when Kelenic found his pitch in the sixth.
  • Watching John Paul Crawford take a walk (or two, tonight) is a lesson in professionalism. In competence at the strategy of an at bat. He drew a six-pitch walk in the third, and his plate discipline was visible in the at bat in the fourth that ended with a single as well. What patience, what strategy. Argue all you want about whether he’s a good hitter, I’ll stake my ground that he’s an excellent at-bat-haver.
  • Cal Raleigh showed a similar professionalism in his eleven-pitch walk in the bottom of the sixth, responding to different types of pitches from Seabold. The videos I’m finding only have the last pitch, which is a real pity because I’d like to watch the elegance of the whole at bat again.
  • Another true professional showed off his craft today on the broadcast: Ryan Rowland-Smith was on the TV team and gave insightful, relevant analysis of the pitching throughout the game. He was able to identify the ways that Kirby used a good pitching rhythm to his advantage and good outcomes for the team, despite more contact and pitches over the plate than he’d hope for. Rowland-Smith’s commentary brings the intellectual and strategic elements of the baseball profession to the fore; it’s always a treat to have him in the booth.