Major League Baseball has battled through a pandemic scare, but they seem to be on the rise and are putting down stricter restrictions for the players, including requirements to wear masks and not leave their hotels or clubhouses without consent, under threat of suspension.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about… The Mariners got off to a 2-4 start in the first week with the big benefactor being rookie sensation Kyle Lewis. Thursday, July 30 marked the third and final game of their series at the Los Angeles Angels, with a booming start to the week. Rookie outfielder Jose Marmolejos got his first home run of his MLB career in the first inning of that game, driving in Kyle Lewis and Tim Lopes and taking an early 3-0 lead. The Angels bit back in the fifth with a two-run home run by Max Stassi off Marco Gonzalez, but the Mariners weren’t finished, reaching 3-2 in the top of the ninth. Shed Long comes to bat and hits a solo home run to lead it. Two walks and a sacrifice groundout later, J.P. Crawford scored two on a single. Another single and two stolen bases later, Lewis scored two on a single of his own, giving the Mariners an 8-2 lead. Los Angeles scored three in the bottom of the ninth but it was not enough, giving Seattle both the game and series wins.
They finally got their home opener on July 31 boasting a two-game win streak which somehow already felt surreal. In the bottom of the fourth, Kyle Seager kicked off the scoring with a two-run double, followed by an RBI single for Austin Nola. They scored again in the fifth, with Lopes and Lewis driving in runs on consecutive plays. Up 5-0, the Athletics put together three but the Mariners extended their win streak to three. They were on top of the world, right?
Wrong. Aug. 1 came around and it was Yusei Kikuchi’s turn through the rotation. He pitched six scoreless innings for the Mariners, an absolute gem. They were up 2-0 heading into the seventh when Chad Pinder tied it on a two-run bomb. The Mariners left the bases loaded in the ninth, the Athletics took the lead in the 10th and won it 3-2. Kendall Graveman took the mound on Aug. 2, when the Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth. The first batter after Graveman got pulled, Ramon Laureano took Anthony Misiewicz deep to give Oakland a 3-1 lead. They would eventually win 3-2. The series finale took place on Aug. 3 where the Mariners lost 11-1. No mom, I do not want to talk about it. The Angels arrived for another round on August 4. Thin Lizzy’s “Boys Are Back in Town” floated lazily on the Seattle breeze. Justin Dunn allowed three runs in the first but settled down with three clean innings afterwards. Seattle responded with just one run over the first six innings. David Fletcher took Erik Swanson deep in the seventh and rode it to a 5-3 victory.
This is the Mariner experience. Is this why we’re here? Just to suffer? Marco Gonzales takes the mound on Aug. 5. Max “the greatest Angel of all time” Stassi takes Marco deep for the second time this week to open up the scoring in the top of the third. No matter, the Mariners score three in the bottom of the inning thanks to a Seager three-run missile out to right field. They score again on a Lewis single in the fifth. It’s 4-1 heading into the sixth, when Marco gives up two solo home runs to David Fletcher and Mike “Now with Dad Strength” Trout. He was pulled after seven innings, all three of his hits allowed being solo home runs. The Mariners push across three more runs in the bottom of the seventh. It’s 7-3. Two people get on for Mike Trout. The count is 2-2, the pitch is in, and the ump gives him the call at the top of the zone and there was no other way for this to go. The 3-2 slider comes in and Trout mashes it 400 feet to bring the deficit to one. It’s up to Carl Edwards Jr. to play lockdown in the ninth. It’s 1-2-3 and the Mariners break their losing streak with a narrow 7-6 victory.
It was every bit as exciting as it sounded. The Mariners have but a 5-8 record but I’ve had more fun rooting for them than I have since they went 13-2 at the start of 2019. Lewis is the best rookie in the MLB according to the league itself. Seager has been hitting like it’s 2014. Austin “backup catcher” Nola is raking. Dylan Moore is somehow a stud. Crawford and Evan White are going to be the shortstop-first baseman combo of the 2020s. The starting pitching has been lights out. Mariner baseball is back and better than ever.