The Mariners had many chances to win this game today and climb above .500. They had several key opportunities to pick up their ace, La Piedra, and to yeet that rock at the heads of their enemies (the Rangers, sliders in the dirt, RISP, etc), but they failed to do so and now everyone who was rightfully wary of the Now Dangerous Texas Rangers (Kate, et al.) gets to feel validated. Sad, but validated still. The Rangers are going to make the road to the top AL West in 2023 significantly more covered in speed traps and qualified immunity. If only something more could have been done by the Mariners in the offseason to counter-balance this power shift, he says as he slowly shrinks and transforms into a corn cob.
Things started off swimmingly for Luis Castillo, who needed about two minutes and eight pitches (seven strikes) to notch three outs. It was the platonic ideal of a half-inning in this new pitch clock era.
Ty France continued his recent turnaround at the plate as he singled and then outfielder Robbie Grossman made a poor relay throw, allowing J.P. Crawford to score, but Ty was thrown at second. Weird play, but you give up an out for a run 10 out of 10 times. Surely the Mariners wouldn’t rely on just one run in the first inning, right? (/pained smile)
The rest of Castillo’s outing was rockier and belabored (by Castillo’s standards anyways), starting in the second inning as Josh Jung got his first hit of the series, Ezequiel Duran took a 95 mph heater to the ribs, and then France couldn’t quite pick a throw to first, which loaded the bases. Castillo got out of it without giving up a run, but his pitch count would continue to balloon from there.
In the third, Marcus Semien led off with a home run to right field to tie the game. This would be followed by RBI doubles by both Nathanial Lowe and Jonah Heim to make it 3-1 Rangers.
Castillo would battle his way through the fourth and fifth innings, overcoming a sun double by Heim in the 4th and then striking out the side in the fifth, but his day ended there with nine strikeouts on 98 pitches with no walks. Not a terrible outing by anyone’s standards, but just not quite an expected LA PIEDRA outing. It was the kind of outing where your offense should be like, “Luis, we got you, man.” (Spoiler: They did not get him....man).
The fellas tacked on one in the fifth when Julio singled on the first pitch he saw and then J.P. smacked an 0-2 RBI double (which was later ruled a single) and things were looking up!
The good vibes would not continue as Ty France got jammed up by Dane Dunning, who had his longest and best outing of the season so far. Ty cracked his bat on the swing, and did the rest himself on the way to first base.
Matt Brash entered for the sixth inning and was ineffectively wild as Duran singled, Josh H. Smith singled, and then Semien struck again with a ground ball RBI single just past a diving Eugenio Suárez to make it 4-2. Gabe Speier came in to get the third out, striking out Lowe.
That seemed to be a wrap for the Mariners, but the fellas (well, Jarred) did try one more time to pick up Castillo. José Caballero was hit by a pitch, perhaps or perhaps not intentionally for his now known predilection for waiting until 8 seconds have expired on the pitch clock before making eye contact with the pitcher. Maybe it was just a whoopsie, but it’s something to be aware of going forward.
Jarred Kelenic then stepped in and hit his first triple of the season, scoring Caballero, and giving all Mariners fans heart palpitations when he appeared to have hurt himself sliding into third base. Turned out the throw just pegged him square in the back and he was fine, praise be. Look at this fine piece of hitting, though.
Geno would then work a very nice walk, prompting a lusty “HE TOOK IT!” from Dave Sims when Suárez laid off a juicy breaking ball a foot off the plate for ball four. Cal Raleigh proceeded to have an utterly perplexing battle of an AB, where he fouled off multiple inside pitches that would have been ball four before ultimately swinging through a near middle-middle fastball that he would certainly like to have back.
The ninth inning was the Bad Mariners Offense of 2023 in a nutshell as Julio struck out, Teoscar struck out (on a slider in the dirt, shocking I know!), and AJ Pollock grounded out.
So, the Mariners ended the home stand 3-3 with as many highs as lows, depending on your mileage. The Mariners rotation continues to shove, but I would like to shove the Mariners offense into a lake. Again, if only someone could have seen this come coming or done something to prevent in the offseason, but oh well, we’ll just keep doing our Sisyphus thing here as Mariners fans and hope for the best outcomes possible to manifest themselves again. It is only May 10, after all.