The Mariners have rarely been a team that takes good things for granted. We all naturally want good things to come naturally. They look like they come so naturally to other people and other teams.
The feeling that’s not a particularly good feeling (how feelings go) most often comes from scrolling through social media or listening to someone describe their exploits. You will see someone who just bought a house or hear someone talking about the promotion they just got and the feeling comes. Call it envy or resentment or jealousy: it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it’s a terrible pang when your mind tries to convince you that something could be seriously and fundamentally wrong with you that has caused you to fail to achieve those things.
Of course, that feeling doesn’t last after a few seconds of clear-headed reasoning. You can see the new house on social media, but not the 7% interest rate mortgage with a 30-year term. promotion Sounds great, but those 70-hour weeks don’t sound great.
The problem is that the analogy doesn’t exactly hold true when trying to apply it to the Mariners. Trust me: I tried every cognitive gymnastics in the book to justify how my Mariners fandom will ever start giving me returns on my investment. Oh, those other teams had to spend $200 million to win the World Series. not my money Okay, well, they had to fill up to get there. Sure, but they arrived.
The coping has turned inward as the Mariners have continued to slide down the standings. Her strong schedule was really tough! Her xwOBA was much higher than her overall wOBA! The bullpen will flip it! Et cetera, et cetera.
This month was the first litmus test for the first claim: that the Mariners will look better if they start playing worse competition. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well against the Oakland A’s last week as the Mariners dropped the series to their pathetic, tanking Bay-area rivals.
So this series was a must see if you can only imagine. Injuries be damned – if the team can’t win against the forever basement-dwelling Orioles, they probably won’t take places this season.
After a game one win, yesterday’s meltdown turned into a rubber match today that probably looked like a joke to most Major League Baseball but turned out to be (if only) a joke because of its implications for Jerry Dipoto’s upcoming State of the Team speech felt urgently important.
It didn’t start out great. A Jesse Winker TOOTBLAN cost the Mariners a run in the first inning and Chris Flexen continued a worrying stretch of mediocre command as he gave up a string of singles that gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
Luckily the opponent of the Mariners was the damn Orioles of Baltimore, after all. Taylor Trammell continued his great start to his season with a double to start the third inning and a winker single brought him home. Later, with Luis Torrens at third base, Julio Rodríguez again showed his speed as he stole second place and forced a throwing error that allowed Torrens to score and end the game 2-2.
More icky singles and doubles at the end of the third made the game 3-2, Orioles. With that in mind, it’s striking how different it feels to watch Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, or Marco Gonzales compared to…any other Mariners pitcher. The Logan/Kirby/Marco experience is fun. Experiences with any other pitcher range from milquetoast to being actively harmful to an observer’s health.
Thankfully, the M’s finally put together a big inning in the sixth. Three straight singles from Julio, JP Crawford and Eugenio Súarez eventually set the stage for a sacrifice fly from Adam Frazier and a single from Torrens with two RBI to put the Mariners 6-3 ahead.
Unfortunately, the most frustrating thing about the 2022 Mariners was their tendency to blow leads. Tonight’s bullpen goat was Matt Festa who recorded one (1) out, two (2) hit batters and one (1) hard hit double. Shot. Paul Sewald was called up to limit the damage, but an unlucky brace from Cedric Mullens allowed his two inherited runners to score and level the game.
Of course, with the game now tied, both bullpens looked exemplary. Sewald threw another inning of original relief, and Andres Muñoz did the same. Two amorphous Orioles reliefs kept the Mariners off the board until nine, and we went to extra innings. As with every game so far this season, the Mariners’ season was at stake.
Adam Frazier started the tenth by landing on the right, allowing Súarez, who played the role of Manfred Runner tonight, to advance to third base. Not that that matters. Abraham Toro, who also had a couple of exemplary plays on third base tonight, cracked the first fastball he saw down the middle.
A less dead ball might have carried more than the 411 feet this one had. Eighteen more baseball fields would have allowed him to escape their walls. But while he didn’t make it all the way over the fence, the ball did make it over Cedric Mullens’ outstretched glove. The ball bounced off the top of the wall and sped far enough into midfield for Toro to roll to third base with an RBI triple.
The Mariners were unfortunately unable to hit Toro from third, so the Orioles got their shot at the end of the tenth with the game-determining Manfred Runner at second base.
It would have been game-defining anyway if Diego Castillo hadn’t served the game of his season so far.
Two sliders, a fastball, and a final slider for Austin Hays culminated in a swing-and-a-miss for Strike Three.
Five direct sliders to Ryan Mountcastle ended up doing exactly the same thing.
Adleyrutschman had enough discipline to score 3-0 against Castillo. However, Castillo fought back, eventually inducing a line drive into the shift to seal the game and pin the abomination that is the Manfred Runner at second base.
So it was that the Mariners scraped, pushed and gave it their all just to claim a 7-6 game win and a 2-1 series win over one of the worst teams in the league.
However, like any Mariners game, it didn’t really matter. Gone were my concerns about the impact the game was having on the rest of the Mariners’ season, or what the way the game was played said about who the Mariners are as a team. These are the thoughts that fester throughout the day in the hours leading up to the actual game.
No, as Abraham Toro grinned in his postgame interview, I had neither the inclination nor the energy to care for the fancy new homes that the Dodgers and the Mets live in, nor the brilliance with which the Rays by nature seem gifted.
As the saying goes, I was just happy to be here.