Sunday is considered by many to be the last day of the week, and this naturally lends many to use it as a day to catch up on missed duties, reflect and assess on the state of things, and plan and prepare for the next set of days to come upon us. It is a strategy used by adults trying to keep their homes in some semblance of togetherness, students who put fun before studies, and procrastinators in general. Today was both a literal Sunday, and a sort of metaphorical baseball Sunday, for the Seattle Mariners, with them playing the final game of a series and of a homestand. The biggest chore they had to try and tackle today was to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals. Their brooms were nowhere to be found and the Cardinals kicked plenty of dust in their face, Seattle losing with a final score of 7-3.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t conclusions and observations to take out of today’s game, in fact we are slowly creeping to the point in the season where the sample sizes will start to give these moments of reflection real value. The week may be over, but Seattle clearly still has some chores to catch up on as the next one begins.
Speaking of chores, this was a particularly hard Chris Flexen start to watch, from the very first pitch in fact. Neither the command nor the velocity were present today and it showed in the results. Four innings, six runs all earned on nine hits and two home runs, three walks, and two strikeouts. The good news of it all is that the type of chore Chris Flexen embodies is like needing to mow the lawn, but your riding lawnmower is in the shop getting fixed and you have to use your neighbors old-school push style ones with the exposed rotating blades and no motors. (Something I’m sure some of our younger readers may need to look up to know what I am talking about.) Sure, those push style lawnmowers are high effort workhorses, but they tend to get the job done. Or at least... they used to before the blades went dull, now they did just barely a good enough job to keep the HOA off the Mariners backs for a couple days. Dull blades or not, Flexen was always the backup plan and riding mower Robbie Ray will ideally be returning soon.
Not all chores are boring or bad! In fact after grinding away the day with tedious projects, putting on some loud music and vacuuming can feel like a fun break. That’s what Jarred Kelenic has been for the Mariners this season, just absolutely rocking and cleaning up the basepaths with that loud power, giving his team a clean path to victory if they so choose to take it. In fact, Kelenic has been so fun it’s unfair to say he is a chore at all. He’s a refreshing glass of lemonade on the porch while you take a break and let the Roomba have a turn. Okay, he only had a 1-for-4 night, but that one was a home run that put the Mariners on the board.
At this point it is starting to look more and more like the kind of household duty Diego Castillo embodies is doing the dishes, only with a dirty sponge. Or, at least doing dishes would be the ideal for Castillo if he was even remotely approaching his prime. The version the Mariners have been trotting out this year is actually like trying to mop with a dirty mop, because with his struggles lately mop up duty was all they trusted him with as his appearances have become more sporadic. Today he did manage to get three strikeouts in his two innings of work, but he also gave up a home run and looked anything but sharp. His velocity has been down, his control atrocious at worst and mediocre at best, and he is just not getting the results he needs to earn his keep. It may be time to get a new mop.
Kolten Wong had himself an interesting day, and is hard to place with the current running theme. He had a 3-for-4 day and came around to score, with all his hits coming on very soft contact. He missed a significant double play opportunity when he couldn’t glove a toss from Crawford, but also managed to pull down a high throw from Raleigh to nab the second caught stealing on the day. Overall there was more good than the bad, and it was a nice showing for the struggling second baseman. Let’s just say he was drying clothes, and we’re going to need to repeat that cycle at least once more to fully get rid of the dampness from his performance in the season so far.
Even when Sunday is catch up day, sometimes that can still inevitably fall into a high effort morning and a lazy second half, which in a rare turn of events was the reverse case for the top and bottom parts of their order. Rodríguez, France, Suárez, Raleigh, and Hernández all combined for 1-for-15 performance, with eight strikeouts. In fairness that one hit was a two-RBI single from France, and Julio and Eugenio both drew two walks apiece, but that is still far too anemic for the top of the order. While these players have been performing well overall, one area the team has struggled with is answering back when the opposing team scores four or more runs. We’ll call this problem dusting, everything is on the shelf where it should be, just needs cleaned up a little around the corners and crevices. Seattle needs to work on getting hits in the big moments when they are down, and these are the players that are going to be the ones to do it, if anyone. Jarred Kelenic can’t do it all on his own, but you are welcome to tell him I said so because the way he is playing this year I am sure he will take it as a challenge and prove me wrong.