Mariners fans should know better than anyone else that, in lost seasons, things like an unheralded player making his MLB debut and winning the game are the necessary bits of masonry that make the drudgery of a broken-down house livable.
But that doesn’t mean it’s fun to watch, on the other side.
Today the Mariners lost in extras to the White Sox, 4-3. They did lots of things right: they exhausted White Sox starter Lucas Giolito’s pitch count, working long at-bats; they played mostly clean defense, turning multiple stellar double plays; they ran the bases well. Their starter gave them 5.1 innings of two-run ball despite not having great command of his bread and butter pitch, the fastball.
But they also did not execute when they needed to. They struck out double-digit times (13! Even with the extra-innings game, too many times). They left double-digit runners on base (12!). They had so many opportunities, and they squandered them, a story that’s becoming uncomfortably familiar with this 2023 team.
It looked like this would be a different game entirely. The Mariners jumped on Giolito early. J.P. Crawford, looking sharp in the vintage Steelheads uniform, ambushed the first pitch he saw from Giolito, a 90 mph middle-middle fastball, and sent it into the seats in right field. Two batters later, Ty France did the same, lacing a fastball in the upper quadrant of the zone into center field. Teoscar Hernández actually took a pitch before poking a slider back up the middle, continuing the pressure on Giolito and sending France pedaling to third base; he’d later score on a passed ball to make it 2-0 Mariners.
But that’s all the Mariners would get that inning, and all they would get until the fifth inning, when Teoscar and Julio teamed up to get the Mariners what was then the go-ahead run.
But that would then be all the runs they scored in the game despite having baserunners in every inning except the fourth—until the baserunners dried up at the most inopportune time. After scoring in the fifth, the Mariners would be held at bay by the supposedly exhausted White Sox bullpen until J.P. Crawford worked a ten-pitch walk off former Mariner Keynan Middleton in the ninth.
Meanwhile, the Mariners let the White Sox hang around long enough that eventually they were able to tie, and then win, the game. It’s hard to put too much blame on the pitching staff when the offense tripped over its own shoes so often today, but the fact is this team relies on the pitching to prop up its inconsistent offensive efforts more than it should, and when the pitching isn’t perfect, the games are that much harder to win.
When Tim Anderson left today’s game with shoulder soreness, bringing on long-time minor-leaguer Zach Remillard to make his big-league debut, that should have been an advantage to the Mariners. Instead, Remillard lit up Mariners pitching for three hits, including the game-winner.
Zach Remillard, hero in his major league debut at age 29. pic.twitter.com/2Vf6GBJAM8— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) June 18, 2023
It’s a great story... for everyone except the Seattle Mariners and their fans.