The secrets and next frontier of scientific development do not hide out in the beyond, in the vast and incalculable scale and size of extraterrestrial and extrasolar space - they live, instead, in the incredible nano-world of elementary particles and the Standard Model. Tonight, the Seattle Mariners managed what fundamental physicists have only dreamed of - they entered quantum space and, in it, found beauty, horror, and the ordinary contained in whole. They gazed upon neutrinos and bosons, danced with free electrons, quarks and gravitons, and there, they found the secrets of the fourth dimension, gazing upon time from a different, unimaginable perspective.
The Mariners, with their new understanding of causality and the directionality of our three-dimensional experience of time, collapsed an interval of 4,406 hours, condense it by 2000x the size and map it onto the subatomic structure of a mere 165 minutes.
They stood, awestruck at the beauty of a landscape unimaginable, before leaving that most fragile architecture in favor of their native existence.
If you aren’t following this tortuous metaphor, well, the Mariners put together a game that appears to be a microcosm of their season - a full 162-game cycle condensed to an uninspiring and disappointing 2 hours and 45 minutes.
This game was clearly not going to be the easy start to the half that many had hoped for against a mostly hapless Tigers team, as the All-Star Week afterglow faded nearly instantly. Detroit proved they would be no narrative-fodder for a Seattle team in search of lucky breaks, as Luis Castillo gave up a quick two-run home run to Kerry Carpenter to put Seattle in an early hole (a peek into the nanoverse will conjure 12 simultaneous wins at the same time as 16 consecutive losses over the first month of this season)
Julio’s year thus far could be accurately described as hitting the ball hard as hell, and only getting mediocre results to show for it. Tonight is not the night for a jump into his xwOBA vs xwOBACON (bacon jokes are already disallowed for the night, commenters. Sweezo, sic em!) and what it implies might be his problem (launch! angle!), but him hitting a ball at 101 mph directly to the deepest part of the park, still clearing the fence, only to have it robbed, feels like a pretty descriptive sample of his season.
Julio Rodríguez nearly kept the Home Run Derby vibes going, but he's robbed at the warning track by an epic grab by Detroit's Matt Vierling. pic.twitter.com/u9aLs5eLQI— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) July 15, 2023
Julio ended the night with two hits, and yet, this play feels most salient - he simply cannot seem to catch a break this year.
Now, towards the middle of this game, the Mariners made things interesting. The quantum version of the bottom of the fifth inning tonight can be considered the last seven series, five of which the Mariners have won - a bright spot of hope after a pretty bleak first third.
The bases were loaded after Eugenio worked a walk, Tom Murphy took a pitch off his foot, and AJ Pollock (??) roped one for his first hard hit-ball in what feels like an eternity. Dylan Moore, he of the .035 batting average, continued to deliver on his promise of playing not-so-great most of the time but coming up clutch in big moments. He hit a double that was inches from being a grand slam, driving in two and leaving the Mariners with a runner on second and third with just one out, now down only 3-2.
I don’t even need to do a “surely the Mariners could take advantage of this” bit for you to be able to infer what happened, if you’ve been paying attention this season. As they have all year, they failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity, with Pollock getting flash-frozen off the bag on this Crawford grounder that could’ve, should’ve been a run.
AJ Pollock should be ejected for not running home when the 2B had to freaking DIVE for the ball. No way he makes the play at home https://t.co/fR5uCM3Kbz— Sam (@SorensSam) July 15, 2023
This probably isn’t The Reason we lost the game like the Twitter crowd is saying it is, but this absolutely hurts. This is a run-on-contact play if I’ve ever seen one.
Then, Ty France, called out on strikes for the second time in a row, earned himself an early night. He laid into the home plate umpire, who seemed to have a tenuous grasp of the strike zone tonight. His slam of the bat is relatable to those who spend a lot of time watching this team play.
Ty France has been ejected by home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson after a called strikeout with the bases loaded to end the 5th inning. pic.twitter.com/M3URgEbe3D— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) July 15, 2023
To jump forward in time, the Tigers hit their 3rd home run of the night in the top of the 7th to extend their lead to 5-2, and with the way the Mariners had been playing, the game felt fairly out of reach by that point. The exciting fifth inning aside, the Mariners managed just three base runners until the last inning.
This game was a rough watch, an incredibly 2023 Seattle Mariners game. The luck and little breaks that had turned the tides in favor of the Mariners for the last couple of seasons in one-run games are gone. Julio’s batted-balls are not finding the plate. We are besieged by a lack of production from those who ought to be key contributors - Crawford, Suárez, Teoscar Hernandez and France combined to go 0-for-14. The stopgaps we’ve found to fill second base, DH and other spots didn’t really deliver, outside of Moore.
And despite it all, T-Mobile was absolutely packed with fans, hungry for a win and howling at each missed call. There’s no better symbol of this year than to see a stadium full of baseball lovers paying money to the franchise with the highest operating income in the MLB last year - a franchise that, through their actions, appears indifferent to the loyalty of their fans, their past statements and to the concept of spending capital to improve the team (or the “on-field product”, if you are fluent in front-office) in the pursuit of winning.
All of this, to watch yet another frustrating, exasperating, exhausting, “2023 Mariners game” of a game slip out of reach.
The Mariners are by no means out of the playoff hunt on the first day after the All-Star Break - they are 5 games out of a wild card spot, and behind just 3 teams for that spot. But they’re running out of time to prove that they have some magic in them - or at least, some very good baseball.
I’ll leave you with what is perhaps the most archetypal and unlikely moment of this dreadful season become game - a smoked Mike Ford Big Boy Home Run.