It bordered on the tired chorus at the start of the homestand last week – “Mariners always fall apart at home after a solid road trip sparks interest!” Lollablueza, Night Court, Deadgar Weekend… I’m sure I’m forgetting a few, but they’ve all run deep to this day. After a solid series victory against the modest Texas Rangers, Addie pleaded with us on Sunday to drop the “same old Mariners” narrative, to allow this rambling young team to forge its own destiny. Sure, a 12-1 loss to the Yankees followed by a narrow loss stung, but Logan Gilbert single-handedly turned the tide with arguably the best start to the season on Wednesday. At 3-3 on the homestand, all that stood between the M’s and the All-Star break was the Angels, and now the tales of seasons past are firmly dead and buried.
Chris Flexen again came out strong from the gates, facing minimal in his first three innings before David Fletcher annoyingly broke the non-hitter with a slap shot down the center to keep his streak alive. He walked Ohtani six lengths in the first, which was fine with me considering his nukes yesterday, but Tom Murphy absolutely killed him trying to take the second to quell any nuisance.
Patrick Sandoval tied Flexen’s zeros at three, his nasty change making Luis Torrens and Jake Fraley fools in the second. Sandoval, as you may remember, set the season’s record for hitting strikes the last time he faced Seattle, pulling out thirty two puffs on June 6. It wasn’t quite there tonight, and Dylan Moore stifled any hope of a no-hit with a clean single in the third, but a pitching duel was seething, and it was only a matter of time until someone to blink.
It turns out that Sandoval must have had something in his eye between the sleeves. After Flexen rounded the aforementioned Fletcher shot for a scoreless fourth, Mitch Haniger opened the bottom of the frame with a walk across five fairly uncompetitive fields. Ty France fell without fuss, Torrens smoked a juuust baseline inside the first baseline to get Mitch to the third, and Fraley redeemed himself with an old-fashioned #hustle.
Tom Murphy hit to end the inning, and it looked like Flexen’s eye was starting to twitch a bit in the fifth, with Phil Gosselin starting with a good shot on a 3-2 cutter for a single. Although Max Stassi and Taylor Ward hit on maybe my two favorite pitches of the night – Stassi collapsed on a low-to-high change (!), While Ward watched a 1-2 curve that s’ slipped into the top of the zone – Juan Lagares cushioned for an easy hit, and the Angels had a runner in position to score for the first – and the only one! – time the whole game. Luckily, instead of someone like Mike Trout, or Justin Upton, or Anthony Rendon, or, or… you get the idea, Jack Mayfield called and hit an easy forced takedown at Dylan at the third base to end the set.
You might have had a double take when you saw DMo was third tonight. With Kyle Seager suffering from a bone contusion last night which Scott Servais says looks like a “Bruised banana” (iiii if you know what I mean) the hot spot was Moore’s tonight, and he was excellent there the entire game. No game, however, stood out more than this beauty to rob Fletcher of a hit into the infield in the top of the sixth.
I mean, this is just a vintage Kyle Seager game out there, and it’s hard to overstate how valuable his glove has been almost anywhere the M’s have deployed it. The bat has been quiet this year, but with a wRC + career of 96, it’s clear Dylan Moore is a viable Major League baseball player, and he should have a home in Seattle for at least 2022. Ohtani went on strike in a truly hilarious three-strike call (seriously, that 2-2 change was at least five inches off the plate), Jared Walsh crashed harmlessly, and it was time for the bald ones -mouse to add. JP Crawford struck to reach first, and the ball flew away from Walsh on a stray Mayfield throw (good!), Perry Hill instantly motioned for JP to move up to second, but he or Crawford or maybe being both missed as the ball bounced perfectly back to a covering Fletcher, who shot second to catch JP from at least twenty feet (bad!). As a result, Mitch Haniger’s single immediately after was quite bittersweet, and with a forced withdrawal replacing him on the base trails with the much slower Ty France, it would take something truly extraordinary to bring a run home. .
How about a good old fashioned triple receiver?
I absolutely love everything about it: Torrens leaping on a first pitch change that Sandoval had been working through all night (and falling victim to his first time around), Ty France blowing around third base and finishing with a glorious head first slide, resigned glance as the ball hits the corner… a chef’s kiss if there is one. Torrens closed his night with a walk in the eighth inning, making it the sixth straight game he has secured a free assist, and his wRC + has risen to 106. His turnaround since his comeback has been nothing short of remarkable. , and apart from a few lucky home runs, the approach seems very sustainable. A name that has elicited boos and whistles throughout the first six weeks of the year suddenly sounds like one of the team’s best hitters, and if his second half looks like the past few weeks, Luis Torrens could be a colloquial name of Mariner in October. Wouldn’t that be something?
Of course, it wasn’t just Torrens who led the Mariners tonight. Flexen responded with a scoreless seventh, ending his night with a glorious Taylor Ward strikeout on a 2-2 curve. Drew Steckenrider only needed eleven shots to get the side out in the eighth. Seattle had the goals loaded late in the inning and couldn’t capitalize, but that was okay. Paul Sewald, him of the untouchable fastball 91-93, he of 1.03 (!!!) FIP, was in ninth place to face the 2-3-4 of Anaheim. If the worst were to happen, Ohtani could only bite them for one. Fortunately, it did not come to this!
An easy flyout and groundout later, and the Mariners completed their second shutout in three days and landed a winning record in what is arguably the most important homestand in the past four years – and par Ryan Divish, today’s attendance total was the second highest of the season, with many late and last minute sales. If the electric atmosphere of the crowds in recent days shows us anything, it’s that this city will roll or die for a vying team, and against all odds, seems to be on the horizon by the end of the premiere. half time. Give us a hand. Héctor Santiago will start what appears to be a paddock day for Seattle tomorrow; give us more of his steadfast refusal to recognize the sack of rosin. Give us the dazzling defense of Dylan Moore, give us the faces of Luis Torrens, give us the stop backup throw, give us the Crawford-Hanger 1-2 punch, give us a funeral procession for the Angels. All of this and more is within our reach and that of the team. They just need to reach out and grab it.