The great thing about baseball is that even after a teeth-achingly bad loss, you usually get a chance to get right back after it the next day; there’s no stewing in one’s own juices for a week like in the NFL. However, the other extreme of this is having to get hyped up again to play a doubleheader a half hour after the previous game ended, with a bench shortened by injury, after your bullpen blew a huge lead to lose the game on a walkoff. Nevertheless! The Mariners played, and again kept pace with the red-hot Padres, and this time got the ending they should have had earlier. Sometimes a mulligan is just what you need.
First inning: GLORIOUS
Keeping the offense train rolling, the Mariners got to Garrett Richards in the first, with J.P. Crawford and Sam Haggerty hitting back-to-back singles followed by a walk to Kyle Lewis to load the bases. Kyle Seager hit a sac fly scoring J.P., and then Austin Nola walked to re-load the bases. That set the stage for Garrett Richards to graciously throw a comically wretched middle-middle fastball to Jose Marmolejos, who did what you’re supposed to do with a comically wretched middle-middle fastball:
And following that, Shed Long got in on the action with a tasty little oppo taco of his own:
That bounced Richards from the game to be replaced by Luis Perdomo—not to be confused with Luis Patiño, who you’ll see later; Perdomo is a former Rule 5 pick who walked so Yohan Ramirez could fly. Perdomo got Dee Gordon to lineout to end the carnage.
Yusei Kikuchi would give one of those runs back, giving up a solo homer to Manny Machado, who absolutely cannot be stopped of late, but otherwise navigated through the top of the Padres lineup without damage, including striking out Tatís Jr., for his third K on the day handed to him by Mariners pitching.
Second inning: LABORIOUS
The second inning wasn’t quite as sharp for Kikuchi. It started with pesky Jake Cronenworth hitting a ground ball with eyes to extend his hitting streak to 11, followed by longtime Joe Doyle crush Ty France doubling into the corner to put runners at second and third with just one out. A Profar chop to Seager scored Cronenworth, but Kikuchi was able to strike out Austin Hedges and Trent Grisham back-to-back to escape the inning without significant damage to anything other than his pitch count – 45 pitches through two innings.
Third inning: DESULTORIOUS
Desultory means lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm. Seager led off the Mariners’ half of the inning with a double, but his teammates showed a lack of a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm in bringing him in, and the inning ended with Seags still standing where he started on second base. Luckily, the Padres had a similarly desultory approach, and Kikuchi had a much smoother go of it in his half-inning, cutting through the top of the Padres lineup including the dangerous Tatís and Machado 1-2-3. Kikuchi’s fastball was sitting an easy 97 today, and his cutter—his cutter!—touched 95.
Fourth inning: MERITORIOUS
Both pitchers worked their respective innings quickly and without damage. Perdomo retired Long, Gordon, and Crawford 1-2-3, and Kikuchi gave up another ground ball single to the pesky Cronenworth but also collected two strikeouts, including getting Ty France to swing through 97 at the top of the zone and one on a cutter at 94 (!) that looked like it was going to take a nibble out of Wil Myers’s knees.
Fifth inning: PRECARIOUS
The fun thing about playing the Padres is there’s never a shortage of premium prospects to see. San Diego called up Luis Patiño earlier in the month, but this is the first chance I’ve gotten to see him. I did see Patiño in the last game that the Mariners would play at Spring Training, in a night game shortened by rain. Then, Patiño was pumping big stuff—a high-90s fastball, a biting slider, and a hard curve only a couple miles slower than the slider—without much idea of where it was going. Here, he got a couple easy groundouts from Sam Haggerty and Kyle Seager but also walked Kyle Lewis and Austin Nola, with ball four to Nola being a wild pitch that moved Lewis to third. Unfortunately the Mariners couldn’t do anything with Patiño’s wandering control as Marmolejos tapped out softly to end the inning.
Things got precarious for Kikuchi in the fifth, when Jorge Mateo—no longer an Athletic!—led off the inning with the first double of his young career. Trent Grisham knuckled 96 mph into right field for a single scoring Mateo, which not only narrowed the Mariners lead to 6-3 but also brought the teeth of the Padres lineup a little closer. However, Tatís’s poor showing against the Mariners continued as he flew out softly on a breaking ball (not soft: Tatís’s curse word after he flew out), and then Machado politely hit into a double play to end the inning and Kikuchi’s day. Kikuchi wasn’t perfect—he needed 81 pitches in his five innings—but he struck out six and walked none in addition to pumping some gas. It was overall another encouraging outing for Kikuchi. Just keep stringing these kinds of starts together, Yusei.
Sixth inning: INEXPERIENCEOUS
More prospects! David Bednar, another player I remember from the AFL but who suddenly throws 97 now because Padres, has an ERA of over 6 but didn’t look like it as he blew threw the Mariners 1-2-3. Meanwhile, the Mariners countered with their own prospect in lefty Aaron Fletcher, who did not throw a strike in his first 10 pitches and left with the bases loaded and just one out. That left fellow prospect Joey Gerber to clean up the mess, but luckily Joey with his oddball delivery puts the “freak” into “neat freak”:
Seventh inning: VICTORIOUS
David Bednar didn’t have the same luck against the top of the Mariners order, with JP rapping a leadoff single for a multi-hit game, followed by yet another stolen base. Sam Haggerty thought a multi-hit game looked like a fun idea so he promptly doubled into the right field corner to give the Mariners a much-needed insurance run. If I was a professional baseball player I would simply see what my teammate did when he got a hit and attempt to replicate it. Unfortunately Kyle Lewis is an iconoclast and struck out, ending his 10-game hitting streak, but Austin Nola knows a good thing when he sees it, singling into left field to drive home more insurance for the Mariners. Marmolejos followed with more loud contact, doubling to deep center field, but slow-footed Austin Nola was held up at third. Bednar then lost control of the strike zone and walked Tim Lopes, and came within feet of giving up the second grand slam of the day to Shed Long, but Petco just held it.
That left a five-run lead in the hands of Yoshihisa Hirano, who started off by walking something called a Greg Garcia on four straight pitches. Can we have Gerber back please? Is Ljay still tired? Can Braden Bishop pitch?
(No, but he can catch. Out number one.)
Tatis then hit an infield single to put runners at first and second with one out and bring up the Monster Machado.
The final boss: anime villain Eric Hosmer.
Hosmer decided he’d be aggressive on a first pitch splitter.
Tomorrow the Mariners kick off their next series in Anaheim against the wretched Angels. Now I have a taste for this winning thing, so let’s keep it rolling.