It doesn’t have to burn going down. Like a tincture prepared for a medieval monarch, the Seattle Mariners have often singed the throat of fans on the way down this year, even in victory. Their brand of baseball has been inconsistent, exasperating, and downright puzzling at times, playing far better than their record, yet struggling to make manifest a season worthy of the expectations placed upon them. Tonight, however, was no indulgence of ennui, no parade of players pressing to overachieve. No, tonight the Mariners took on the dismal Oakland Athletics, with a lineup of their ostensible reserves, and delivered a resounding victory that may provide some of the club’s most heavily leaned-upon players a merciful sigh of relief ahead of a gauntlet in the final 12 games of the campaign.
First star goes to Bryan Woo, whose four walk night was mirrored by JP Sears on the Oakland side of things, yet Woo evaded incident repeatedly with excellent resolve and some of his better adaptation in a big league ballpark. The first inning saw both sides put runners in scoring position, with Sears walking two and hitting a batter to load the bases, not to be consummated in a run, tragically. Woo put two on for his money, but as he would all night, the rookie righty bore down. A pair of strikeouts, mixing four-seams, sinkers, and cutters all over the plate and just off it. He would execute the same dance all evening, working around seven baserunners in total, and turned a lead over to the bullpen that was able to be cradled with care by four arms in sequence.
Taylor Saucedo, Justin Topa, Trent Thornton, and Isaiah Campbell were varied in their sharpness, but each cleared their lines scorelessly, affording Andrés Muñoz, Matt Brash, and Gabe Speier two precious days off in a row. Similarly, the offense, in particular Cal Raleigh, were given a chance to reset their bodies ever so slightly. On a night where Luis Torrens returned to catching duties, the bottom of the order manufactured multiple rallies, first with Sam Haggerty scooting into scoring position with a single and a fielder’s choice to be knocked across by J.P. Crawford, then José Caballero going deeper than I frankly thought he had in him.
Torrens would check in with a RBI double himself, helping push the M’s to a victory that was both appropriate given the opponent and as distant a sensation as they could have provided just a day ago. Since Tom Murphy went on the IL, retroactive to August 14th, Cal Raleigh has played in 31 of 33 possible games, and Cal had played the last three days in a row as well. These are not the games that they build statues of players for, but they are the tidy, responsible wins that get god teams in position for greatness. Two more such opportunities await in this series. With Houston and Texas both falling and Toronto idle, the M’s are right back in a playoff spot. Nothing left to fear, as the last players on the roster reminded us today.