Tonight the Mariners welcomed the two more major-league-ready parts of the Paul Sewald trade to the club, and really gave them the full Mariners experience: a ballpark overrun by fans of the visiting team, seven runners stranded on base, and occasional bursts of offensive excellence bookended by some straight-up frustrating plays.
The Mariners offense had a chance to get to Red Sox starter Brayan Bello early. JOBP Crawford started off by working a walk, and then Julio scalded (116.7 EV!) a single, giving him a career-high 10-game hit streak. Eugenio followed that up with a single, and J.P. was able to score thanks to a shoddy throw from Jarred Duran in left field. Cal then took a walk, loading up the bases for brand-new Mariner Dominic Canzone, who popped out. John’s scouting report on Canzone was that he’ll make a ton of contact, but unfortunately, that contact can often be un-ideal, and that bore out here very early. Ty France went on to strike out looking and Mike Ford went after the first pitch he saw to leave the bases loaded, which is about as Mariners a welcome as you can get.
Unfortunately, one positive aspect of the Mariners experience—solid starting pitching—wasn’t particularly on display tonight, as Bryce Miller struggled, giving up six runs over 5.2 innings. Miller had to labor early, fighting a 10-pitch at-bat against Alex Verdugo that ended in a walk, with Miller pulling out both his slider and changeup to try to retire Verdugo. Millers throws two varieties of slider, one that’s often classified as a “sweeper” by Gameday and a harder version that’s his go-to secondary. The harder version of the slider unfortunately wasn’t there for Miller tonight; the Red Sox hitters were not fooled by the pitch, swinging at it half the time and whiffing on it only once. That left Miller fending for his life with his fastball, which was notably down a couple of ticks tonight, although he says that’s more due to lapses in command and concentration than it is him wearing down physically.
“Whenever I take a pitch off and it’s 93, that’s where I get into trouble. We’ve gone over the numbers, like, below 94 and it’s [a] substantial [difference]. And the back half of games is when I’ve gotten into trouble and given up the most damage on the fastball, and that’s where I have to be ready to go—fifth, sixth inning.”
Tonight it was the fourth and fifth innings that caused the majority of damage for Miller, although he noted with disgust postgame that the Red Sox only had one hit in the fourth—a leadoff double to Masataka Yoshida on the changeup. Miller then made trouble for himself, walking Rafael Devers and hitting Adam Duvall with a sinker—a pitch he’s had for “three weeks,” he says, but found himself drawing upon heavily tonight as he searched for answers on the mound. Unlike the Mariners, the Red Sox were able to move those runners around, hanging a three-spot in the inning; they’d add another two in the fifth on a Verdugo two-run home run, and one more on another longball in the sixth, this time from Reese McGuire.
Miller was tough on himself postgame—he often is—but these are the pitches the Red Sox put in play for no outs/runs. There are definitely some pitches in there that caught too much plate—like the two home runs, the two red dots in the upper left of the box—but also a fair number that are just pitches being gotten to by good hitters.
Another new addition, Trent Thornton and his rec specs, came on to bail out Miller after he gave up the two-out home run to McGuire, which was also his first of the year; Thornton pitched well, giving the Mariners 2.1 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and just one hit. Devin Sweet also pitched an inning, holding the Red Sox off the board and collecting his first MLB strikeout. Alex Verdugo wasn’t pleased, but we sure were.
The Mariners hitters tried to bail out their young pitcher. In the fifth, Cade Marlowe led off with a single deep in the hole at short that he managed to beat out because Cade Marlowe Is Fast. That set up Eugenio Suárez to formally announce that he’ll carry his hot July into August, thankyouverymuch.
That put the Mariners to within two, and even though Miller would give up the solo shot in the sixth, Canzone would make up for his earlier weak contact with some very solid contact in the bottom of the sixth, leading off with a well-struck double that would have been a home run at Wrigley Field and nowhere else, so hopefully Canzone isn’t resenting his new home park too much. Ty France, who’s quietly turning it around in recent weeks, doubled home the speedy Canzone, and the Mariners were within two.
Unfortunately, that’s as close as they would get. The Mariners had another opportunity in the eighth, after Cal Raleigh led off with a walk against Josh Winckowski (Canzone then popped out again, please Dominic let’s make good contact). Ty France then hit a single that bounced off Triston Casas’s glove, which appears to be made of Lego bricks, and then the Red Sox bricked the ball around a little more, ending up with Ty and Cal standing at second and third with just one out. Unfortunately, Mike Ford struck out, and then Josh Rojas, wanting to fit in with his new teammates, struck out to end the inning with runners at second and third. I would like Cade Marlowe hitting higher in the order, and I would like it immediately.
The Mariners cost themselves an opportunity to move up in the standings tonight, with the teams closest to them in the Wild Card race all losing, and instead gifted Boston another game. They’ll try to take the series and maybe move up again tomorrow, hopefully while making a better impression on their new co-workers.