From 1995 to 2023, there is only a single season - 2006 - wherein Dan Wilson wasn’t a player for the Seattle Mariners nor Dave Sims their broadcaster. While I miss Mike Blowers’ consistent presence on the TV broadcast mightily, a sentiment shared by many fans I know, it’s been nice listening to Wilson grow more comfortable in the booth. The bombastic, exhilarating, and occasionally erratic Sims is balanced well by a measured former player, and while Wilson at times could stand to unbutton a bit, the two often divert into stories and analysis that leans on their history of experience with the game, something that sat more heavily on my mind after this afternoon’s 8-7 M’s victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Bryce Miller was about as sharp as the brim of a ballcap this afternoon, but his 5.2 innings with 6 ER and 4 home runs allowed speaks to the warmth and easy flight of the ball, capitalized on by a Minnesota club geared to crank mistakes out of the park. It’s amusing to know this was the game that Seattle squeaked by in after hanging Luis Castillo out to dry in the first game of the series, but Miller was efficient enough to at least work long enough to give some of the bullpen a break, heading into a travel day. It’s also far from the wackiest game the M’s have played at Target Field, which opened in 2010, well beyond Wilson’s playing days but just a few years following Sims’ hiring to the M’s broadcast. Sims oversaw Christian Bergman get tagged for 9 runs in 2.2 frames, followed by 6 more from Casey Lawrence in a game that ultimately concluded with Chooch Ruíz on the hill, a 20-7 throttling that you can read Isabelle Minasian’s recap for here if you’re a real wild one.
Seattle was able to weather Miller’s middling outing because they built an early lead in a way they’ve so rarely done, having been outscored in the first inning this season by their opponents. Julio Rodríguez continued his recent scorching stretch with a double to lead off the game, immediately cashing himself in with a brilliant read on a bloop single by Teoscar Hernández. The M’s would swell the lead on a Dylan Moore solo shot in the 2nd and a bullet big fly by Julio again in the 3rd, which officially ticked Rodríguez past 3.0 fWAR on the year. Though the game seed and sawed, Seattle kept their noses above water, with Kolten Wong ensuring a no-out, bases-loaded situation led to something fruitful in the 4th and get Twins starter Joe Ryan out of the game. It was Moore once again departing the park in the 5th, this time with friends Ty France and Cade Marlowe who had worked walks, stretching the lead then to 7-3 for what seemed might be a comfortable win. Wilson has seen those in Minnesota, too, like when the M’s erupted in the Metrodome in the year 2000 for a 14-0 clobbering, running Twins starter Eric Milton out of the building before putting further hurt on the poor 21-year-old asked to mop up the mess, a southpaw named Johan Santana. Every M’s starter recorded a hit in that game, Wilson included, while Alex Rodriguez went deep in the first inning and Edgar Martinez left the park twice, including a three-run fifth inning bomb just like Moore’s.
It might’ve been smooth sailing, but an adventurous route by Teoscar Hernández allowed a two-out RBI double by Joey Gallo, and Matt Brash needed both hands to slam the door shut in the 6th, putting a spotlight on the vital insurance run secured by Eugenio Suárez on an opposite field liner in the gap to knock in Julio after the 22-year-old turned a seeing-eye-single up the middle into a hustle double. The bullpen was nails beyond that, however, with Gabe Speier, Justin Topa, and Andrés Muñoz giving the Mariners three shutout innings to close it out and giving Paul Sewald two straight days of not having to pitch to head into Arizona.
8-7 might have looked familiar enough given last night’s 9-7 win, but it also could have evoked the May 23, 2011 thriller the two clubs played, albeit in one whole hour more time and an extra inning. This game had power and back-and-forth excitement, recapped here by Jeff Sullivan, with Jack Cust driving in Ichiro on a first inning blast off Carl Pavano, Jason Vargas yielding a solo shot to Denard Span immediately in the bottom of the frame, and the Mariners in the same spot as the Twins today (and themselves yesterday), trailing 7-4 late, chipping away at Joe Nathan and Matt Capps to knot things up in the 9th on a Carlos Peguero single knocking in Michael Saunders. Nearly a decade before he’d become a Mariner himself, Anthony Swarzak yielded the go-ahead run to a sac fly by Luis Rodriguez, driving in infielder Jack Wilson to score, whose son Jacob was just selected 6th overall in the 2023 draft by the Oakland Athletics.
Memories, memories, memories, they all carry forward to the present, to a team now 52-50, still in the hunt, flashing once again the type of team they could be.