Notice of play: change of status – in progress
The Mariners scored three runs in the first inning tonight, but not without putting their bodies on the line. It started, of course, with a Ty France hitting a pitch, as tradition dictates.
Kyle Lewis then got behind France, and they both managed to score points, but given the state of their knees, I use the word “run” loosely. When the score was already 2-0, Framber let another get away from him.
Adam Frazier drove the Mariners’ third run of the inning, which increased Valdez’s ERA against the Mariners by 0.56 in a single inning.
Defensive substitution: Jesse Winker replaces left fielder Dylan Moore, 6th at bat, playing in left field
After putting his body on the line, we assumed it was a toe injury that prompted Jesse Winker to replace Dylan Moore. Halfway through the game, we learned that the utility /thirst quencher was actually taken out for back spasms. According to Ryan Divish, DMo has been dealing with these spasms for a few days and “it locked him up”. It doesn’t sound super serious, but it’s probably unavailable tomorrow.
Unfortunately, as bumpy as that first inning was, Valdez cut through the Mariners lineup over the next six innings, overpowering his curveball and complementing it with his lead that gets more travel than any player within two seams of this side of George Kirby. I commend JP Crawford, though, for getting one of two more hits Valdez would give up, both beating the shift and getting Alex Bregman to eat it with the same swing.
Change of pitch: Matthew Festa replaces Chris Flexen
Mariners having acquired Luis Castillo, wait, did you hear the Mariners acquired Luis Castillo? Because the Mariners acquired Luis Castillo—Seattle now has six legitimate starters, and while I’m sure they’ll all have work to do, Chris Flexen is one of the guys most at risk of losing playing time.
Looking at Flexen’s peripherals, you might think he screwed it all up tonight, with just one strikeout tonight against four walks and just 16 percent CSW. But Flexen never made its money on its peripherals. He’s a contact manager, and while the Astros hit the ball hard eight times in Flexen’s six-and-a-third, those balls found gloves more often, and Flexen escaped after giving up just two runs. . Was it enough for him to keep a lock on his place of rotation? From my seat, I’d say his performance tonight didn’t move the needle either way.
But while good positioning bailed out Flexen for most of the night, one of Flexen’s runs can be partially blamed on Sam Haggerty. In a nod to his Italian heritage, Haggerty turned his arm into a noodle during a points game. Haggerty is not this away from his natural second base position when he makes this throw.
Likewise, can one of Matt Festa’s two earned runs be blamed on Haggerty, with Altuve getting revenge for his five basic racing boners since the last time Seattle was in town getting into position to score on a Haggerty boner.
Game Notice: Injury Delay
The score was therefore 4-3, with Houston entering the top of the eighth. And if you’ve heard of this game before coming to this recap, it’s probably this:
At first, Julio stayed in the game, playing center field late in the set, perhaps in an effort to prevent an inevitable meltdown among Mariner fans. Good luck with that, Scott, because at least this fan FREAKING THE HELL OUT.
After the game, Julio received x-rays but did not speak to the media. We know he felt good enough to play defense and was part of the celebration line of five, but that’s not real knowledge. We will have useful information tomorrow. What more can I say, we all know what Julio means to this team.
Offensive replacement: Carlos Santana, pinch runner, replaces Kyle Lewis
We received a second Gameday notification in the eighth after Kyle Lewis reached first base with two outs. Having likely reached the end of his night at the plate, Scott apparently didn’t want to risk Lewis leading the bases. Perhaps hoping to appeal to the Chaos Lords, Scott made the oddest choice possible and called on Carlos Santana, him of 15th percentile sprint speed, to make his first pinch racing appearance in his racing career. 1,731 games. Of course Scott. Tragically, a JP Crawford takedown ended the inning before anything got too chaotic.
Offensive replacement: Cal Raleigh, pinch hitter, replaces Luis Torrens
But in the ninth round, things got wild. Jesse Winker, who you’ll recall was in the game for an injured Dylan Moore, started the inning with a four-pitch walk. Adam Frazier followed that up with a line drive straight off the top of Altuve’s glove to put the riders in first and second with no one coming out. Sam Haggerty then continued his terrible, horrible, not good, very bad day by failing to reduce the bunt in any of his three attempts, which led to a strikeout.
Then Cal Raleigh, unable to get a damn minute to himself, was put on duty again. In an apparent act of passive resistance, he kept the bat as short as possible, putting the first pitch he saw in play for a pitch that sent runners up. I #StandWithCal and its off work.
Offensive replacement: pinch hitter Abraham Toro replaces Julio Rodriguez
This lifted Julio’s place in the lineup, but Julio didn’t return to bat, which is when the mass panic really started in earnest. Of course, part of the panic was that the replacement was Abraham Toro. I was among the skeptics, but I should have known better. While he has a career slash line of .206/.280/.347, when Toro faces his old team, he’s slashing .277/.351/.538. Abraham Toro, Our Reluctance. No wonder he did this:
Defensive switch: Abraham Toro stays in the game as a right fielder
Defensive move from first goal to second goal for Ty France
Defensive switch: Carlos Santana stays in the game as first baseman
Defensive pass from second base to center field for Adam Frazier
Defensive switch: Cal Raleigh stays in the game as a receiver
Pitcher change: Paul Sewald replaces Erik Swanson, 8th at bat, replacing right fielder Sam Haggerty
This is what an empty bench looks like. Why would Servais put Sewald in the lineup and drop the DH in case it went to extras?
Haggerty leaves with medics with a cut on his forehead. Spike his helmet after failing to knock off the bunt, bounced up and grabbed it.
— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) July 31, 2022
Did I mention Haggerty was having a “terrible, horrible, not good, very bad day”? I don’t mean to pick on poor Haggerty, but calling him what I see, the ham was decidedly lootless tonight. Hopefully he heals up quickly and gets back to hitting balls in the park and terrorizing opposing defenses on base paths. But his absence left the Mariners with that 2019 defensive roster.
Go figure Sewald only faced three batters: a line drive to Frazier, a popup to JP and a grounder to France, all of which were handled with ease and grace. So tonight’s Sun Hat Award goes to Sewald for securing the save while facing the top of Houston’s lineup with no room for error, lest the Mariners have to beat again. Make it easy? It’s bringing order where the chaos should be, and for once, I was there for that.
To make the point, the Mariners got their first victory over Houston (don’t check this), and they did it in cathartic fashion, with a ninth-inning lead change. And combined with losses to Cleveland and Baltimore, the Mariners won a field game in the Wild Card race. But at what cost ? After this game, the Mariners’ infirmary has no more beds. In order of apparent seriousness:
- Julio (wrist)
- BMD (return)
- Haggerty (forehead, dignity)
- Kyle (knee – not newly aggravated, but you know, in general)
- Cal (exhaustion (presumably))
Until we have more news, all we can do is wish them all a speedy recovery.