Like many people the past month, I’ve been captivated by the new video game Star Wars Jedi: Survivor (No spoilers, I promise). Like anyone who quickly switches between video games and baseball for recreation, my mind can sometimes have trouble adjusting. It doesn’t help that the hero of the video game and the hero of this game share the same name: Cal.
Just as Star Wars’ Cal Kestis fights a personal war against the Galactic Empire, tonight Cal Raleigh fought a personal war against the Boston Red Sox. And, just like a Jedi, our Cal accomplished supernatural feats.
First, behind the dish. The position of a catcher is one of leadership, calm, and focus. As the only fielder looking forwards, its up to the catcher to direct the game. Defensively, Cal was excellent today, catching a red-hot George Kirby and making a ton of blocks (despite his -1 statcast Blocks Above Average). On top of that, he made this throw, with a poptime of 1.91 seconds:
You may notice in that clip that the Mariners have two runs. Would you like to know how they got them?
First, Eugenio singled to start, and it’s good to see him start to boost his BA a little bit. Following that is when our hero stepped into the box, and decided that a fan in left field deserves a souvenir.
Cal Raleigh going down to get a pitch and sending it 430+ feet down the left field line? Where have I seen that before?
A Ty France
triple double and a throwing error followed by a Julio walk teed up Jarred for a big-time RBI opportunity, but he was just able to put the ball in play for an run-scoring fielder’s choice. But that’s ok. Jarred’s been the hero enough this year, it was someone else’s turn tonight. Speaking of: we’ve got one more superhuman feat to cover.
That’s right, Cal Raleigh quite literally hit a baseball out of the park. From the right side of the plate. Statcast somehow quantified the numbers on that Big Dump, but I find that process to be profane on hits such as these, and I so dare not blaspheme and share them. It will suffice to share that in this moment, Cal became the first catcher to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the the 112-year history of Fenway Park.
But two home runs, magnificent as they are, do not a 10-1 win make. One of the themes of the previous Star Wars: Jedi video game was the process of finding a family in a difficult time. As I have opined in previous recaps, the Mariners this year have typically not felt as together as they did in the back half of last year, and that they haven’t played together as a team. In the last 20 losses, the Mariners were less of a crew and more of a collection of individuals. And, as much as the scientist in me wants a bigger sample size, I think those days may be over.
We can pretty easily chart the other Mariners heroes of the night onto the crew of the Mantis that the other Cal lives on.
Our beloved Eugenio Suárez, the heart and soul of the team, is pretty easily compared to this lovable scamp, Greez Dritus.
Much as Eugenio’s “good vibes only” approach to baseball has energized the Mariners for the past two years, this four-armed Glup Shitto keeps his found family together with good humor and skillful flying. And speaking of flying, Eugenio decided to join in with Cal and send a ball to space himself.
We’ve only briefly mentioned George Kirby tonight, and while he was pretty dour in the post-game interview, George threw his 7th straight quality start, going 6 and 2⁄3 innings and only giving up 1 run while striking out 6, including a clutch strikeout of Connor Wong to end George’s night. Talent and a tough-on-the-outside personality? That’s Nightsister Merrin, baby.
Not to be missed in tonight’s offensive onslaught was Tayler Saucedo, who still has yet to give up a run at the Major League level. Tayler showed off in two ways today, both with pitching and with a little bit of pitcher fielding position. He moved his sinker all over and generated whiffs with his slider and sinker while stealing strikes with his curveball and changeup. Young and plucky but can throw perfectly in any situation? Sound’s like BD-1, Cal’s loyal droid bestie, to me.
Tonight’s game was one of the first this year that it really felt like the Mariners were clicking together on all fronts, offense, pitching, and defense. They strung hits together, worked strong at bats, and fed off each other’s energy. In short, they were a crew.
And that is what the Mariners need to be going forward. Just like trying to rebel against an Empire of incomprehensible scale, playing a full baseball season is grueling. No one player can shoulder responsibility for success all on their own. Much, too much, has been made of Julio’s slump to start the season, but it seems like he’s started to improve recently, going 1-4 with a walk tonight. It’s not a lot, but getting a knock is always good, and anything that helps him find his rhythm is good. But maybe the solution lies elsewhere.
By leaning on each other, trusting the people around them, the Mariners can learn the same lesson that revolutionaries, fictional and historical, always learn: by working together people can do things previously thought impossible, and clear any obstacle that stands in their way. And also, whether fighting the Red Sox or an Empire, we can always count on a Cal to lead the way.