There are many sayings about heat. If you can’t take it, you’d best get out of the kitchen. If your iron has enough of it, you’d best get to striking. And, of course, Some Like It as as such. Personally, I loathe even a moderate heat, much less the triple-digit scorching the Seattle Mariners faced off against the Chicago White Sox in this Wednesday afternoon. As the sun beat down upon the increasingly toasted players, the M’s squandered a multitude of opportunities to sweep the lowly ChiSox, instead settling for a 2-1 series win after this 5-4 extra innings loss.
The primary squandering came in the form of the offense in early innings, as White Sox starter Michael Kopech was as advertised: wild and wilder with four walks allowed and a hit by pitch, affording the M’s ample opportunity to score. The M’s would do no such thing off the league’s leader in free pass percentage, and though Kopech would leave the game in the 5th with an apparent injury, Seattle was little more effective against a motley medley of middle relievers. 14 men left on base in a game where it took until an eighth inning single by Julio Rodríguez for Seattle to push a ball out of the infield is simply exasperating, and while I am a firm believer that it is worth celebrating a team that puts 14 players on base, this was a disappointing outcome.
George Kirby was acceptable, though he was squared up well by a Chicago team that is aggressive at the dish and finally got something to show for it. Were it not for a 9th inning letdown by Andrés Muñoz, in fact, the story of the afternoon would likely be Luke Weaver’s impeccable debut for the M’s, working two innings without incident and five strikeouts. Instead, disappointingly, a bullpen that does still ultimately miss its most veteran stopper bent just enough, and what looked like a comeback victory was instead spoiled by two ill-located two-strike offerings from Muñoz, knotting things at 4-4.
That there was a game at all in the bottom of the 9th was thanks to the White Sox’s bullpen, first and foremost, which was similarly glad-handed in free passes. Walks and hit by pitches afforded Seattle multiple opportunities, and to their credit the M’s made much of them, advancing by steal on the bases five times but seeing those runners come around to score just once. The one, it should be noted, was quite spectacular, as pinch-hitter Jose Caballero walked, swiped both second and third, and scored on a stellar bunt single by Josh Rojas. Rojas had a gem of a game across the board, singling in the top of the 9th as well to kick off the rally, ultimately cashed in on a bases-loaded RBI HBP to Julio, with Eugenio Suárez pushing the tying and go-ahead run across on a lazer single. Teoscar, however, lasered a fielder’s choice right back to the pitcher, and despite his hustle to avoid a double play and another hit by pitch for Ty France, the rally only gave a hair’s breadth of room. The sweat that trickled down that breadth was enough to drown the M’s.
In extras, Seattle threatened again, including another Rojas single, but the bloop nature of the hit kept Mike Ford from being able to score as he waited to see it down. It was not enough, and even what on many days has been the M’s salvation - capitalizing on the sloppiness of their opponents - was today out of reach. A successful back pick of Elvis Andrus at second base led to a likely erasure of the Manfred Runner. Instead, the ball clanked off Tim Anderson’s back on an errant Crawford hurl to third. A clanging conclusion to an otherwise effervescent few weeks.