If you’ve been a Mariners fan for a while, or have been reading this blog for a while, you’re familiar with this metaphor: Mariners have a much-anticipated game at home, usually against a class competitor. The team was making enough noise to tempt fans to believe this might be the year the drought ends. Often something else happens – an important milestone, the retirement ceremony of a beloved player, or, for example, the unveiling of the All-Star logo. Fans show up wholeheartedly at the stadium, creating a gigantic green North Sea of over 35,000 people eager to cheer on their hometown Nine. Then the sailors immediately laid an egg, sending these fans home in disappointment, only to repeat the entire course again next summer. Lollablueza. Didgar Weekend. We’ve said these things so many times before that they couldn’t hurt us, unless they did.
Emotions were immediately extinguished at this moment when Julio was announced as a last-minute scratcher, with an annoying “wrist ache”. I feel really bad for all the kids (and adults!) who came to the park, so excited to see all the stars, only to see he wasn’t going to play. We will of course update you as we hear more; Look for the blurb after Servais is inevitably asked 452 questions about it in a post-match queue.
The bad vibes continued when Jose Altuve tattooed this absolutely terrible, third pitch of the game, from Marco Gonzalez 422 feet to center court:
And again when Marco abandoned the more understandable Homer to Jordan Alvarez, we can respond to him only with a reading from the ancient texts: at least there was not a single rule. However, the Astros then hung on for two more innings in the fifth, first on Homer’s solo from Martin Maldonado (ouch), then another, first little ball from the Astros today, after one hit from Altoff, one from Peña, then a sack fly from Alvarez. That lucky sailors stayed in the yard.
The Astros pushed the lead to five with more difficult contact from Aledmys Díaz and Jake Meyers in the sixth inning and scored again, and that’s just a real rough sentence to write. This was the end of the road for Marco, who didn’t jump Ugly, not exactly; But against the Astros, a bowler like Marco should be practically perfect, and he wasn’t.
Meanwhile, the Mariners’ offense decided that, with a whiff of the 2001 All-Star game running across the field, it entered the classic game and reverted to offensive incompetence in May/early June. There were signs of life here and there: Eugenio Suarez proved that all-black hair has the same effect as a black-and-white biscuit look with a double (I’m Stranded). And in the fourth inning, the Mariners got two with no thanks to Jesse Winker’s single and Carlos Santana’s walk (both were on my side). That fourth inning was a real smash: Eugenio Suarez pulled off, and Kyle Lewis, who walked earlier, got a little anxious at the 3-2 count and settled into a double play that ends in the first round. By my very approximate estimation, the Sailors were at 0-2 the number forty, although it’s funny that one of those ended up with Dylan Moore posting a rocking solo and helping the ground crew by spreading some nice sawdust all around the field – I was instantly stranded by Adam Frazier swinging the first pitch and flying unharmed for the second time in this game.
The Mariners got their first and only run of the night from Ty France, who took an Urquidy fastball located on the outside edge of the board 400 feet above the wall in the right center. France were uncharacteristically aggressive in their first two matches, going 0-2 each time before going out, but that was clearly the plan, as that aggressiveness paid off when O’Keade decided to challenge him on the board twice in a row:
If you’re looking for silver linings in this game, seeing Ty France hit the ball hard – not a cold comfort, but perhaps a tepid comfort. lukewarm rest. Convenience of “forgot the tea in the microwave”.
The Mariners had a notable advantage in this game: The Astros, who showed up with a double header against the Yankees where they had to use many of their high-leverage arms, were supposed to have a tired DB. After the offense went down without a whisper against Seth Martinez, the Mariners had two with nothing against Phil Matton at the bottom of the eighth, but Jesse Winker [spins giant wheel of Mariners Offensive Ineptitude] It popped up harmlessly. Carlos Santana then marched to load the bases with only one exit, prompting Dusty Baker to burn another pitcher for the evening, and summoning the crushing Ryne Stanek. Honestly, in a game that was already heading for a loss from early turns, forcing Baker to exhaust the pen a bit more drops as a net positive, looking forward to the remainder of the series. Eugenio Suarez worked out a refreshingly disciplined batting, taking the score to 5-2, which left Jeremy Peña’s stole Kyle Lewis (xBA .770), the all-time robber. That sparked Cal Raleigh, who trailed 1-2 before going out at 100mph at the top of the area. And that would be, despite Dylan Moore trying to go into champion status with Hector Neres double in ninth.
One game that doesn’t make for a streak, but it’s very frustrating to watch the Mariners again in prime time in front of a crowded house, once again falling against the Astros, and once again having players in the background in someone else’s highlight reel on a night they were supposed to belong to them. There are moments of relief here: the Mariners worked at Urquidy’s expense on the field, they forced Dusty Baker to use more bulls than he wanted, the Mariners Bullpen seemed untouchable (point-free innings from Murfee, Festa and Swanson), Ty France hit a ball Very difficult and far. But it’s a cool relief, as cool as walking into your T-Mobile car after losing the Marines when the marine class settled. So what if Mariners worked at Bullpen? Justin Verlander presents tomorrow, and it’s like a bullpen’s spa day.
And here’s the frustrating thing: It seems that no matter how good the Mariners are, the Astros will always be just one step ahead. Did the Mariners clinch a historic 14-match winning streak? The Astros go 14-5 over a similar time frame. Sailors have the talent of a new generation of junior competitors this year? The Astros have their debutant star, who made a big appearance in a game where the Mariners star didn’t play. Sailors sign winning Cy Young winner? The stars have one current probability. And so it is.
It’s so easy to get caught up in how good this team is, how fun they are, and how much better some of the real horror shows going on in baseball right now. [stares in tonight’s Red Sox game score] And we forget that in order to go anywhere, they have to be able to go from toe to toe with these superstars and come out front often. They have two more games from the series to show for it, soon followed by four more games in the house of horrors Minute Maid Park. They could rise above the memory of Deadgar Weekend, Lollablueza, and all the other rare times they spotlighted—in Seattle, of all baseball—trained on them and stumbled upon their own shoes, but really put themselves in the 0-1 hole with the best (at worst, 2nd best player) in the MLS on the hill tomorrow. But this team has done surprising things before. They have defied faith before. So maybe they can challenge this private, painful part of our history, too.