the jduge orders me to take off my anonymous v mask & im wearing the joker makeup underneath it. everyone in the courtroom groans at my shit— Mad Now (@dril) March 10, 2015
Our first viral tweet comes from Weird Twitter’s undisputed king, @dril. And it’s here in reference to the Mariners pot stirrer in chief, Jose Caballero. I’ve spent my life rooting against José Caballeros, but only because the Mariners have never had one before. You know those Cologaurd commercials where the annimated box is always butting into strangers’ conversations only to insist upon them how non-invasive he is? That’s José Caballero. And the most annoying Mariner reached his logical conclusion tonight, putting the Astros on tilt, seemingly just because he could.
It began in the second inning with his usual shenanigans, working the pitch clock as beligerently as he worked the count. It worked. Home Plate Umpire Bruce Dreckman had to stop things to remind Framber Valdez that he needed to wait for Cabby to make eyes before Valdez was allowed to start his motion. (Recall that when Houston visited Seattle earlier this season, Astros catcher Martin Maldonado had some choice words for Cabby for working the clock.) Seven pitches later, Cabby had worked a two-out base knock. He then came around to score on a Cade Marlowe triple.
In the third inning, he fouled off four pitches to work an eight-pitch, two-out walk, part of a sequence where the Mariners got five two-out baserunners, scoring twice to bring the game to an early 4-0.
But it was his third time up that really got the juices flowing. Valdez was on the ropes, having surrendered his first ever home run to the Mariners (after 276 other M’s batters faced, an oppo shot from DMo that brought the score to 6-2). Valdez reared back and let one rip that hit Cabby in the shin. Cabby didn’t like that and stopped to stare out at the mound and yell.
Almost inevitably, the benches cleared. This was pretty close to being one of those stupid, pointless, everyone-stand-around-jawing “brawls” that I wouldn’t even bother writing about. But this one stands out simply because Cabby seemed to cause the whole thing on purpose. He knew he was under the Astros’ skin, and with the score having put the team on the edge, he seized an opportunity to push them over.
No punches were thrown, but the Astros were big mad. Cabby don’t care. Before the next pitch was even thrown, Caballero stole second base. You know how loud T-Mobile gets with boos raining down on Altuve, Bregman, Correa? That’s how the Juice Box sounded for Cabby the rest of the game. For Cabby! I remind you that, meance though he is, he’s a rookie part-time player rocking a 108 wRC+. Considering that the Astros live in my head rent free, it’s a relief to know that after looking at tonight’s data, they’re way more mad than I am.
Speaking of pests, Jose Altuve has spent the better part of his career crushing the Mariners hopes and dreams. And Mariners pitching is a big reason why the sports page of tomorrow’s Houston Chronicle is likely to lead with Altuve recording his 2,000th career hit tonight: Of his 2,001 hits, more than 10% have come against Seattle (h/t Matthew Roberson).
Altuve occupies a weird spot in the game. I think that his achieving superstardom despite his diminutive stature had people really wanting to root for him, but then the banging scheme made him one of baseball’s biggest milkshake ducks. So now Mariner fans, like many around the league, boo Altuve for the cheating. It’s almost a compliment though because I really think we wouldn’t care so much if he wasn’t so darn good.
Yet things have taken a bit of a turn lately as Father Time has started to nerf his aerodynamism. Last season, when the Mariners won a series in Houston for the first time in four years, it was in no small part thanks to Altuve getting thrown out on the bases five times in three games. Then tonight, he led off with his 1,999th hit followed by a Bregman walk. But Gilbert wiggled out of that jam easily thanks to striking out Yordan Alvarez and Altuve adding yet another TOOTBLAN. This time, Altuve misread a good catch from Cade Marlowe (one of many Marlowe would make tonight) and got himself doubled up at second base. Ah! Well. Nevertheless, Altuve did cross the 2,000 mark a few innings later.
All of which made his 2,000th hit was fitting in more ways than one. Of course it came against Seattle, and how could it end any other way?
Just listen to the air come out of that crowd when he’s called out. I’m not above enjoying that deflation.
In the seventh, when Altuve hit his 2,001st hit to left field, he’d finally learned his lesson, throttling down at first and perhaps putting his hustle doubles in the rear view mirror. Don’t worry, Altuve, legs are coming soon.
every time I see an Angels highlight it's like "Mike Trout hit three homes runs and raised his average to .528 while Shohei Ohtani did something that hasn't been done since 'Tungsten Arm' O'Doyle of the 1921 Akron Groomsmen, as the Tigers defeated the Angels 8-3"— ℳatt (@matttomic) May 18, 2021
We’ve reached the pinnacle of viral baseball tweets. Tonight, the incandescent Julio had yet another four-hit game, his fourth in a row, for a total of 17 hits in a four-game span. Mariners PR points out that this takes the record from Milt Stock of the 1925 Brooklyn Robins. He got his first hit by going the other way at 106 mph, then did it again at 109. His third and fourth hits were pulled balls, but one was an infield hit thanks to his speed.
That he’s stolen five bases in these games makes the whole thing simply absurd. And none of this even takes into account one of his biggest highlights of the game. As the tensions were boiling over and the benches cleared, Julio went out and pulled Framber Valdez out of the situation, frog-marching him into the outfield (with an assist from Geno). If that sounds familiar, it’s because he did the same thing to Hector Neris when the benches cleared in Houston last season. All hail Julio, the Peacemaker. All told, it’s the most decisive Sun Hat Award win of the year (somehow Julio’s first of 2023?).
But back to the fictional Akron Groomsmen and the real Brooklyn Robins. See, the key difference between the situations is that the Mariners have actually won all four of the games in Julio’s hitting streak:
- Teo’s hitting .529/.526/.882 over that span
- Cal Raleigh has two home runs in those games
- Utility players Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty combined for three home runs tonight
- Gabe Speier’s working on a streak of 10 innings where he’s struck out 13, while walking just one and allowing no runs
Julio’s a megastar, hotter than the sun. But the Mariners are close to a complete team around him. Even when J.P. is out and the starters struggle, the team has been able to pick them up.
It takes them to 13 games over .500, half a game up on Toronto for the third wild card and just four games behind the Rangers in the AL West. Put all that together, and you’ve got FanGraphs putting the Mariners’ playoff odds over 50% for the first time this season. And having now gone 7-2 against Houston, Seattle has also clinched the season series against them, meaning they hold the tie breaker, which, slowly then suddenly, is feeling like it might just matter.
It’s a difference that brings me to this: Even though I’m comfortable going with this angle in the recap because I got to this comparison before Joe did (which I’m sure he didn’t see), friend of the site Joe Veyera unquestionably deserves the newest viral tweet because he’s the one who got the phrasing just right:
every time I see a Mariners highlight it's like "Julio Rodríguez broke a record held by Milt Stock of the 1925 Brooklyn Robins for most hits in a 4-game span, as the Mariners defeated the Astros 10-3”— Joe Veyera (@JoeVeyera) August 20, 2023