After a disappointing, disheartening loss last night, continuing a string of poor play by the team, it wasn’t totally clear how this young Mariners team would respond, if they’d be able to shake off the painful extra-inning loss against a Zombie Angels squad that put a damper on their playoff hopes and cast a shadow over their franchise superstar’s historic achievement. But this Mariners team hangs together—for better or for worse—and after some clearing out of the bad vibes in the clubhouse (literally), they re-enacted last night’s game, this time with a more satisfying ending.
Once again, the Angels sent a lefty to the mound—this time Patrick Sandoval—and once again, the Mariners jumped on the Angels starter early, with a little help from Mike Moustakas, who flubbed back-to-back plays (one ruled an error, one a hit), allowing Julio Rodríguez and Teoscar Hernández to reach. Cal Raleigh then struck out on an elevated fastball, putting Eugenio Suárez in a two-out RBI situation. It’s been a struggle lately for the Mariners’ merchant of good vibes, who’s been running a wRC+ of just 57 for the past 16 games. But the thing about Eugenio Suárez is he brings the same consistent, positive energy every day, never letting himself get too high or too low because he knows, like another great head of hair in one orphan Annie, that the sun will come out tomorrow.
Julio and Teo had both singled on the slider (Eugenio’s hit came on a fastball), so Sandoval attempted to make an adjustment to Ty France, having seen his colleague Reid Detmers have success with this approach last night: after the Mariners scorched his slider all over in the first inning, Detmers switched over to a changeup and used it to rock the Mariners to sleep over the next half-dozen innings. Sandoval also has a good changeup, butTy France worked a nice six-pitch at-bat, laying off the changeup until he found one he could drive for another RBI single, keeping the inning going and bringing up Dylan Moore, who doubled deep into the corner to score Geno (unfortunately, Ty France, who has the spirit of a golden retriever if not the footspeed of one, was thrown out at home).
Sandoval was able to find the handle on his slider and put the Mariners down quickly in the second and third, although not without some very loud contact in the third from the top of the order. That loud contact came home to roost in the fourth inning when the Mariners broke this game open, drawing out a lead they wouldn’t give back. With one out, Ty France reached on a generously-awarded “base hit” when he sent a ball in Mike Moustakas’s direction, where Moustakas went full Bartleby the Scrivener (“I would prefer not to field the ball”). Sandoval started trying to work in his slider again and both Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty singled off it. José Caballero struck out on three pitches, again chasing after the changeup, but then Sandoval—who doesn’t throw the changeup to lefties—opted to go back to the slider against J.P. Crawford, who made him pay dearly for that decision:
Julio followed that up with an RBI single of his own, extending the lead to 7-0, with all seven of those runs scored with two outs.
Last season, Mike Cameron did some cleansing of the visitor’s clubhouse in Houston, historically a house of horrors for the Mariners. Inspired by Cameron, after last night’s defeat, J.P.—who also does the practice at his home with his wife—went through the Mariners’ clubhouse to clear out the lingering bad vibes. “I went by all their lockers, went through this whole complex.”
But the Mariners have their own constant font of good vibes, and it comes in the form of third baseman Eugenio Suárez, who followed up his clutch two-out RBI with a solo home run:
With his offense charged up around him, Bryan Woo went to work against the Angels. He set the tone early with a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts, coaxing ugly swings from the Angels and mixing in his cutter and changeup with confidence. Postgame, Woo said he was pleased with his attack mindset both with his fastballs and his changeup, which he thought he was being less “picky” with.
Woo carved through the Angels lineup, making them truly look like the Zombie Angels we expected. He didn’t give up a hit until the third inning, which was his most laborious, costing him a whole 21 pitches. He did have to work around two baserunners in that inning, though: Brett Phillips made some weak contact for a parachute-shot single, and Nolan Schanuel—or as I think of him every time he comes up to bat, Fauxtani—hung in for a seven-pitch at-bat and finally got a fastball that caught a little too much plate he was able to get a ground ball single on. However, Woo came back to get Zach Neto and his annoying leg kick to line out easily. In addition to the 20 (!!!) whiffs Woo got, the Angels just weren’t able to square him up all that well, recording just one triple-digit exit velocity:
That lone hard-hit ball came off the bat of Randal Grichuk in the fifth inning, off a sinker that wound up slightly elevated but still in the middle of the plate. However, by sandwiching a pair of strikeouts around it, Woo was able to end the inning by getting Jordyn Adams to ground out easily. He’d get one more inning of work, giving up a leadoff single to Schanuel, who reached out and tapped a changeup oppo for a base hit, but then striking out Neto looking and pinch-hitter Kyren Paris swinging. That put Woo at 83 pitches, and Servais had been adamant about keeping that pitch count around 85, so Woo’s day was done—he came off the field to a nice ovation and cheer.
Today’s sun hat award goes to Eduard Bazardo, who entered to close up the sixth, which he did in tidy fashion; he’d then stick around to pitch through the eighth, putting the Angels down 1-2-3 in each inning. With the Angels going full “let the kids play” mode and the Mariners resting most of their starters (shoutout to Luis Torrens, who doubled in his first plate appearance back with the team; truly, the vibes cannot be stopped), it would have been easy for Bazardo or his ninth-inning replacement Dominic Leone to take their foot off the gas, but they combined their powers and preserved the shutout and in fact went into no-hit mode, allowing nary an Angel to reach first base. Together, the pitching staff combined for 11 strikeouts and no walks with no runs on just four hits: a refreshing, and necessary, change from the heavily taxed bullpen.
After sputtering through the road trip and losing last night in painful fashion, tonight’s game truly was a much-needed vibes reset. Also a vibes reset: the Mariners play just one more game of this grueling, thirteen-straight set before they get a well-deserved day off.