It was hard not to spiral a little after yesterday’s unfortunate events. Losing both James Paxton’s power arm and the joy of Maple Grove at once was as big of a gut punch as you can get, and topped off with an injury to one of the few productive hitters in Jake Fraley and a dying 10-4 loss , came fifteen minutes that lasted four hours, I do not blame anyone for the bad vibes that take over. It’s early, we all know that, but the damage and piles of strikes are never pleasant to look at.
For a long time today, it felt like more of the same. Justin Dunn’s infamous command questions were the worst I had ever seen them, and by the time he went with the bases loaded in the fifth inning, eight free passes had been handed over to the White Sox. Look, I like Dunn, his competitive fire, and his seemingly endless ability to work out jam after jam, but eight walks? Half of that number would have pushed it today and it̵
There were stretches where we saw what he was capable of, though: the third and fourth inning were things of beauty. Leaning heavily on his basket, he retreated in order in each of these frames, grabbing a few strikes and four easily handled balls into play. The basket and slider looked especially sharp, and he made the reigning MVP look stupid in the third with a:
And hey, at the bottom of that frame, the Mariners actually grabbed the lead on a field pick from Evan White! Granted, they should have gotten more, with the old enemy Dallas Keuchel not his usual self, but after not leading in twenty innings, I take it.
However, Evan White’s hoarding did not.
White left the game with left square according to the team.
– Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) April 7, 2021
Billy Hamilton also left the game with a hoarding problem, and between these two, Fraley and Tim Anderson, it feels like many guys are not quite stretched out that early in the year. Good reminder to us all! Per Ryan Divish is White day-to-day and the club will likely wait until the weird Friday of the day to make a decision on whether or not he is IL-bound.
At the top of the fifth, Dunn’s luck finally ran out. He was able to get two pop-ups – including one from Abreu with the bases loaded – but forced into a race anyway thanks to four walks, three of which came on four lanes. Although his groundbreaking pitches were exciting, and the speed bump was encouraging if it was a little inconsistent, his fastball command was non-existent all afternoon, and the two-run single Will Vest immediately gave up relieving him made his last line much more reasonable given the fights . Still, he only allowed a double to hit Luís Robert, and when the White Sox swung, they usually did not do much. Today was a pretty yummy start, but I expect Dunn to get at least a few more chances. For all our sake, let’s not take an eight-walk out again.
West gave up another race that was all his at the top of the sixth, and at this point things looked bleak. Keuchel had settled down, and when the new first baseman José Marmolejos stepped in to open the bottom of the frame, one could hear faint, vain complaints about route control and position depth in the distance. I love Marmo, but from the bench against a tough left wing? He would be lucky not to strike out here.
Instead, he worked a trip. And just like that, life was breathed into the seafarers’ offense.
Dylan Moore gorked a blooper in low right field and advanced to second place thanks to a throwing error from Adam Eaton, and when Marmolejos moved to third, Keuchel’s day was over. Still, however, we saw the White Sox bullpen dismantle the Ms the last two nights, so I was still guarded. Matt Foster was a strong contributor out of the bullpen in 2020, and with strikingly inclined Tom Murphy and Taylor Trammell next time, you could say it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see every go down.
You could, but you would be wrong. Murphy blew a ball straight to third, which Jake Lamb could not handle to load the bases, and Trammell skipped a hanging first pitch change.
Sam Haggerty, the only starter who did not reach base today, went down three lanes, but that did not deter JP Crawford. Mired in a hard decline to start the year, he quickly found himself behind in the count again, a late wave of 95 at the top of the zone, which put him at 1-2. Foster threw a switch from the record, JP threw his bat at it, and good things happened.
Mitch Haniger hit a perfect sacrificial fly to tie the game, and Ty France followed suit to give what I think may have been the best fight of a Mariner hitler so far. I mean just marvel at this:
He chased exactly one pitch out of the zone and it was a quick ball up that he was able to get a piece of. He may be an ongoing defense, but there is no doubt that this man can hit. Still, I remained intimidating. Binding was great, but with two outs and two lefty-killers in Garrett Crochet and Aaron Bummer still lurking in the Chicago bullpen, the lead might have asked for too much. Luckily, Tony La Russa remains washed, and for whatever reason, he left Foster to meet Kyle Seager, and it bit him square in the ass just two pitches later.
Between Trammell’s high steps, Crawford’s rigid and France’s majestic roller coaster, this is the highlight of the season for me. Passion! The energy! The camaraderie! All we ask is to be entertained and that moment delivered and more. Oh, Marmo also joined the parade to put a cherry on a seven-run inning.
Did anyone hear anything? Just the wind? Cool.
Kendall Graveman came on to relieve Vest and unfortunately ran quite quickly into trouble, squeezing a single around a couple of walks to load the bases without outs. I really did not want to do this, nor did JP Crawford, who caught a pop up from Zack Collins on the infield fly rule for the first time, then turned an almost guaranteed two runs from Robert to two outs to wiggle for free.
Things were pretty much JP Smoove after that. No more runs from the Mariners were just fine, and Anthony Misiewicz and Rafael Montero slammed the door in the final two frames, with Montero easily beating the White Sox in the middle of the order. We even got a first Major League win for Will West! Good vibes all around! You would not have convinced me of this three hours ago. Sometimes all you can do is join the trip. The Ms are on their way to Minnesota to see old friends Nelson Cruz and Michael Pineda for their next series against a strong AL Central team. It will no doubt be another high test for a young, untested lineup, but games that today show they are ready for it. It could go pear-shaped pretty quickly. We could laugh at watching Sam Haggerty throw the eighth inning on Saturday. But we do not know until the day comes, so let’s keep the good vibes rolling.