“You can’t beat a Seattle summer.”
Ty France was talking postgame about how the balls were traveling in T-Mobile Park tonight, but any denizen of the Northwest knows what he means: it’s days like today, seventy and sunny with just a little bit of a cool breeze, when the air smells sweetly of saltwater and everyone in the city has a little extra skip in their steps: the payoff for what we wait for over nine months of rain and gray and more rain and more gray. While many other parts of the country are rounding into suffocating heat and humidity, this is where Seattle shines, with clear skies and warm sun and cool breezes off the water.
Tonight the Mariners came back home on a prototypically beautiful Seattle day and played to match the weather, finally finding themselves on the happy end of a blowout game thanks to some cleaner play of their own combined with capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes, better at-bats up and down the lineup, and a get-right start from one of their young starters.
After showcasing some sloppy play this past weekend, the Mariners were able to profit off some mistakes made by the Marlins right away, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to J.P. Crawford doing Captain things and lining a double into the right-field corner to lead off; he’d later advance to third on a pickoff error by pitcher Jesús Luzardo, and be brought home when Teo found a Luzardo slider to his liking and scalded it (109 mph EV) out to the left field corner. Speaking of scalding baseballs, Eugenio Suárez sent a ball at 101.8 mph right at Bryan De La Cruz, who reacted to it as if he’d never seen a baseball before and was baffled at to what this strange object might be, allowing Teo to score from second.
The Mariners broke the game open in the second, punishing Luzardo both for things within his control and those that were not. With one out, Tom Murphy doubled, taking a slider low and out of the zone and sneaking it just fair down the left field line. However, then Luzardo grazed José Caballero with a 97 mph fastball—thank goodness it was just a graze!—putting two. J.P. Crawford then grounded into what could have been an inning-ending double play, but Old Friend (?) Jean Segura double-clutched the play, bringing up Julio Rodríguez instead, who took a 98.6 mph fastball on the inside edge and punched it gently into shallow right for an RBI for a 3-0 Mariners lead.
Postgame, Servais said the team has changed up their messaging a little to focus on hitting as many balls up the middle as possible, noting that this change in approach has especially helped out Teoscar Hernández, as well as Julio, who showed a good willingness to take what the pitcher was giving him rather than trying to hit a homer in that moment.
I’m not sure if Ty France was trying to hit a homer when he absolutely unloaded on this slider from Luzardo. I do know that it was hit so hard and so far it was one of those where the outfielders don’t even bother to move. 6-0 Mariners.
I love when Ty France is doing well and can really be the goofy lil guy he is:
Who is Ty France talking to? pic.twitter.com/JUwIcRKs1w— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) June 13, 2023
Postgame, Ty explained that he was calling the bullpen to acknowledge them because he forgot to shout them out on his home run trot, explaining that it’d just been so long since he’d hit a home run he totally forgot to do it, so he called to apologize. When the brain is goldfish but the heart is also gold.
In addition to building a sizable lead, the Mariners also worked Luzardo’s pitch count extensively; he was at 30 pitches after the first, and nearing 50 after the second. He’d make it just four innings, his shortest outing of the season, recording just three strikeouts, also a season-low. They took advantage of the Marlins mistakes but also worked some nice at-bats against Luzardo, pushing full counts even if the result wasn’t productive. Postgame Servais was visibly (if maybe a little tongue-in-cheek) excited to note the Mariners’ strikeouts were single digits for the night. Fire up the banner, Joe Veyera.
Meanwhile, Bryce Miller was a model of efficiency, clearing six innings. It looked like things might be a little shaky, initially: after blazing through the first inning on just 11 pitches, Miller’s second inning started with him going to 3-0 counts on the first two hitters he saw, walking them both. His fastball velocity, after sitting between 94-97 in the first inning, fell to 92-94 on average, and he got into long battles with hitters, although he was bailed out by Jean Segura ending a six-pitch at-bat by grounding into a double play on a slider, and Jon Berti lining out sharply to Julio.
But armed with the 6-0 lead, Miller was able to come back in the third in attack mode. Postgame, he talked about how his college coach had always impressed on his pitchers the importance of the shutdown inning after the offense goes out and scores for you, and that’s just what miller did: he needed just eight pitches to cruise through the third, including fielding this first-pitch comebacker from Arráez to end the inning and then walking off like it was absolutely no big deal. I want to be as cool as Bryce Miller when I grow up.
Bryce Miller, fielding his position ... a 95.7 mph comebacker from Luis Arraez, the hottest hitter on the planet. pic.twitter.com/0EjcMZrHre— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) June 13, 2023
Postgame Miller said he’s been using that glove for a year and a half and it’s “super floppy” but he’s scared to switch it in case the ball might pop out of a stiff glove. We say dance with the one that brought you, Bryce. (He also said he instinctually tried to catch the Segura GIDP but “luckily, I didn’t touch it.” Let your infielders infield, Bryce!)
The only blemish against Miller would come in the fifth, when he allowed a solo home run to Nick Fortes, whose name I have typed as “Nick Foles” no fewer than five times attempting to write about the Marlins. Miller tried to go up with a fastball, left it too much in the middle of the plate, and that happened. Fun fact: that was Miller’s first hit surrendered during the game, and the only hit the Marlins would record all night.
Ty Adcock came on in relief of Miller and pitched two solid innings in his major league debut. He didn’t record a strikeout, but he did get the Marlins to ground out six times and line out once (Eugenio misplayed one of the groundouts, which is why Adcock had to face seven hitters, not six) and didn’t allow a ball out of the infield. I thought Adcock would be more of a strikeout and whiff-getter with that big fastball (he sat 97 with it tonight) and wicked slider, but the Mariners bullpen could use another ground ball specialist, honestly.
Meanwhile, the Mariners continued to enjoy Seattle’s warm air, adding two more solo home runs for Suárez and Tom Murphy, and you know what that means: Terrifying Tom Murphy Wielding the Trident Pics!
Yes, that is indeed the good stuff.
Those of us longtime Seattle residents know to get out and enjoy the sun when it shines, because this isn’t Annie: there’s no guarantee it will come out tomorrow. Scott Servais seemed similarly cautiously optimistic postgame, pointing out that while tonight was certainly encouraging, this team has looked before like they’re about to get things turned around and then backslid.
“Tomorrow’s a new day,” he said. “You’ve gotta keep it moving. We’ve had decent games and then we take a step back, so.
I’m anxious. I wish we could play tomorrow’s game right now, I really do. See who shows up.”
Here’s hoping for this good stretch of weather to continue, literally and figuratively.